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Perfecting the shaving experience

  • April 4, 2018
  • By Joann Mathews
  • 1 Comments
Perfecting the shaving experience

When we set out to design our razor, the biggest mistake we made was underestimating how complex a task it would be. It's just a razor, right? Wrong. It is an instrument that millions of men use to take sharp blades to their face. Every, single day.

It seems non-trivial now because of how common-place it has become. But don’t let that undermine the engineering marvel it is. Product development is a long-drawn, often frustrating process. Our design team left no stone unturned in understanding the relationship between the face, the hair, and the razor. We went through research papers, bought every single razor in the world from the common to the obscure, spoke to scientists and doctors, identified and shortlisted manufacturers, and abused our faces with slowly evolving prototypes.

In the end, we had ourselves a beautiful looking Double-Edge razor. With bated breath, we started selling it in the autumn of 2016 to customers ready to pay the price.

 

We knew we had to keep our ears open for any kind of feedback. At first, we turned to our friends and family. They were enthusiastic with their comments but we soon realised that their propensity to encourage us would often drown out the honesty in their feedback.

 

Our nervousness slowly started turning to delight as reviews started pouring in - in 6 months, we were rated 4.7/5 across platforms. People were loving the Bombay Shave Regimen and the razor was the star of the show. But, we knew that under the surface there was a lot of room for improvement. We just did not know what it was. So we did the easiest thing that came to mind - we started asking people specifically what they did not like about the razor. We forced them to be critical. And after around 30 conversations, two themes became apparent:

  • While the razor provided a close shave that was free of nicks and cuts, it was milder than ideal.
  • The exposed blade could lead to accidental injuries say, while rummaging inside a travel bag.

This was a great starting point. At least now we knew what we were solving for. The first problem was relatively simple. We designed an extension to the razor which allowed for a higher blade exposure and blade gap. We tested it on a growing group of trusted razor critiques and sent it for free to every single person who bought our razor. The response has been terrific. We learned that there is no such thing as the ideal razor - its always a personal preference where some people like it mild others like it aggressive. And going forward, we will continue to respect that people love to have options. But we believe we largely solved the first issue.

 

The second problem was a little trickier. We knew that it wasn't the best idea to leave the blade inside the razor. But it was a convenient habit and despite our best efforts, we couldn't get customers to change.

 

One day, while going through his travel kit, one of our founder’s wives cut her finger on the razor blade. This incident coupled with customer feedback on the safety aspect of the razor convinced us that this was a bigger problem than we had anticipated, and that it needed to be fixed immediately. But, how? We couldn't touch the blade sharpness or the razor specifications. We couldn’t ask customers to remove the blades when not in use. We couldn’t ask customers to ‘store it safely’ without affecting convenience. So, we had to take the razor as it is and design a protective cover for it.

 

Thus, the Razor Sheath was born. A simple accessory that snaps on and off the razor. We worked with multiple constraints - the sheath could not touch the blade but had to protect it, it had to stay firmly in place but needed to be easy to remove, and most importantly it had to ensure the visual appeal of our razor was intact. We went back to the drawing board and got our creative juices flowing.

 

The sheath had nothing to do with the shaving experience per se and it was unlikely that it would ever turn into a revenue stream. It was an accessory at best. But the customers wanted and needed it. And that was reason enough. At the end of 2 months, we had something we were proud of.

We announced the launch of the Razor Sheath with an email to our customers and we got many relieved buyers of our new toy. Is it the most innovative product? No. Will it impact the business significantly? No. But, we sleep a lot better knowing that our customers are that much safer. We know our products are nowhere near perfect. But, we have our ears to the ground to listen to our customers and keep getting better. We believe that if we do this long enough, we would have built something extraordinary. At the end of the day, every drop makes the ocean.

By Joann Mathews, April 4, 2018
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