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In the ongoing series from Comparably in collaboration with Entrepreneur, "If I Only Knew: Leadership Lessons," I host virtual fireside chats with incredible CEOs from major brands from Indeed and Blue Apron to Waze and Nextdoor. As the host, I ask executives to share some of the valuable lessons and practical advice they have learned during their career journey. These rare, honest insights into the business world of remarkable catalysts for success are available as a source of inspiration for current and future entrepreneurs.
See also: 12 Leadership Lessons from Sarah Friar, Nextdoor CEO
On the final episode, I sat down with Andy Katz-Mayfield, the co-founder and co-CEO of Harry & # 39; s, the New York-based unicorn startup he co-founded with Jeff Raider of Warby Parker. Founded in New York in 2013, Harry & # 39; s started out as an online retailer and subscription service provider selling luxury razors, shaving creams and other grooming products for men at an honest price. In 2014 Harry & # 39; s bought its own factory in Germany to meet demand and became one of the first vertically integrated shaving companies in the world. Then, in 2016, the brand expanded into bulk retailers with Target and Walmart in 2018. Harry owns 13 percent of the single-use items in the US $ 3.3 billion men's grooming market, which has long been dominated by established giants like Procter & Gamble.
Katz-Mayfield ponders how the company was started: “It started when I was in a drugstore and had a frustrating experience, didn't have a lot of choices and needed someone to unlock the razor because it keeps getting stolen because of its absurdity Price. Where the razor is often locked up in a drugstore like it's the crown jewel, Harrys solves that pain point by making products more accessible and actually making people enjoy using them. "
Setting aside his entrepreneurial journey, Katz-Mayfield admits that his company has gone through a number of iterations. Although most people consider Harry & # 39; s a grooming company, the Harry & # 39; s Umbrella offers a selection of consumer goods and other lines of products including Flamingo – a personal care brand for women – and Cat Person, which offers quality cat items for cat parents. There is also another brand up its sleeve that hits the pike next year. The diversified omnichannel CPG company raised $ 375 million and was recently valued at $ 1.4 billion.
These are the 14 key lessons that served as a guide to Katz-Mayfield's success as an entrepreneur:
1. Find value using this equation: brand equity times quality divided by price
As Katz-Mayfield explains, it's not just about price: "We want to deliver a better price, we also want to create a brand and an experience that will resonate with our consumers."
2. Your brand can have an emotional value proposition
The Harry brand attaches great importance to the aesthetics of a product as well as to the mechanics. One that you can be proud of when you put it on your sink. "Direct-to-consumer enables us to have a personal experience with our consumers in order to deliver a human experience," says Katz-Mayfield.
3. CEOs and entrepreneurs can also benefit from support groups
Being an entrepreneur is like an emotional and intense roller coaster ride: you wake up to face the world, but the next day it might feel like the world is about to fall apart. If you can't find a way to manage this, it can be stressful. It is important to find some kind of emotional stability in order to avoid burnout. The shared experience of having a co-founder is a huge asset. There is always someone next to you to talk to. Joining a CEO support group and these types of networks can also be helpful in supporting an entrepreneur's emotional and cognitive burden. Harry's social mission also focuses on men's mental health and the brand donates 1% of all sales to nonprofits that share Harry's ambition to provide quality mental health care to men everywhere.
See also: 14 Leadership Lessons from ZoomInfo Co-Founder and CEO Henry Schuck
4. Smart people can be your source of energy
Katz-Mayfield received considerable benefit simply from being surrounded by bright people who questioned his thinking and pushed things back differently. Or, as he puts it, "a multitude of differences."
5. Fundraise and focus like a unicorn
Raising nearly $ 400 million, Katz-Mayfield admits that integrating Harry's supply chain vertically early on was an expensive task and may not be the best route for all businesses. But for Harry it was important to make sure that it could produce a high quality product. Much capital has also been raised over time to build the company's platform and infrastructure to support not only the Harry & # 39; s brand, but also the various brands under the Harry & # 39; s Inc. umbrella.
6. Don't try to be who you think you need to be
If you're not a visionary salesperson when it comes to fundraising, don't try to be one. It will feel flat and fake. Investors are smart, and if you can offer a balanced, honest outlook while building trust through the process, it will be valuable. You want investors who are focused on your business and who understand the pros and cons.
See Also: 10 Visionary Leadership Tips From Warby Parker's Dave Gilboa
7. Capital is not just a commodity
Raising capital is a team effort and you will be with it for the long term. Katz-Mayfield said he was lucky enough that its co-founder was also the co-founder of Warby Parker because it gave them traction, momentum, credibility and access to investors.
8. No job is too small if you are a Batman or a founder
Sometimes you have to be the one to get in the car and drive from New York to rural Pennsylvania because your prototype parts didn't get to the factory on time. And sometimes it's not the most intellectually stimulating job, but someone has to do it because getting these things right is important. The point is, you need to be ready at all times to get into the trenches and roll up your sleeves for your business.
9. A compelling vision can be a great way to get investors to invest
Katz-Mayfield says fundraising is ultimately an art form. A company needs to have a compelling presentation with a clear vision that depends on investor confidence in you and your company. It also helps to have the building blocks that go from here to there.
10. When interviewing candidates, pay attention to the language "we" and "I"
Have a variety of interview questions that speak about your values. A value and a specific question can move the interview from a subjective to an objective analysis. Katz-Mayfield uses his company's four core values to determine who should be hired. One of these values is "All In, All Together", the idea that someone is willing to subordinate their ego for the good of the team and to work well across functions to support their colleagues. He asks people to give an example of a task they have accomplished in their careers and he listens to see if they use the language "I" or "We". That speaks volumes and can fly a yellow flag.
11. Find out what gives you energy in your role and what exhausts you
In addition to assessing whether someone is a good fit for your team or not, assess what motivates people. Ask the candidates, “What gave you energy in this role? What was that thing that pumped you that day? "
12. Forget about your CV and title. Gain experience that will help you succeed
In his 20s, Katz-Mayfield realizes that he was very focused on growing his career and creating credibility through his resume. In retrospect, he understands that his linear path represented some aspect of risk aversion, but also believes that gaining a range of experiences could have been just as enriching – and sometimes even more valuable.
13. Ask yourself: What would you do if you knew you would not fail?
This career advice, given by one of the Katz-Mayfield professors at Stanford School of Business, is the best he has ever received.
14. A career is a marathon, not a sprint
It can start with an idea in a drugstore and continue slowly and steadily. It ends with a successful, diverse, omnichannel CPG company that grew out of an unmet need for a great razor.
Check out the full webinar for more insight from this incredible leader.
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