Business Schools

A Shaving Startup: The Bald Facts


What does an MBA—and a head-shaver—do with a degree? How about starting a men's product business

I am the founder and president of Bold for Men in Dallas, the first company to market a high-end men's waterless shave product. Designed for the face, but ideal for the head, the Dry Shave gel redefines the traditional shaving experience.

It all started with an idea that developed from a personal need. As a head-shaver, I tried every shaving product on the market, from the common $4 to $6 foams and gels to the high-end $15 to $30 products, none of which were marketed for, nor met the special needs of, head-shavers. Then I began conducting preliminary research by examining existing products on the market, eventually creating a virtual brand that combined the best ingredients and components. I later conducted research on the best labs and chemists in the country and found one that would work with me to create my new innovative product. Once I had my supply chain defined and set up, I finally planned for a date to launch the product and brand.

With growth comes the challenge of keeping up with demand. The determining factor for the skin care and beauty industry is the ability to manage the long lead times associated with the components and the raw materials that make up the finished product. Initially one is likely to accept the imposed business conditions, but when I did the due diligence I was amazed to find how many companies could provide the same quality service and product with faster lead times and at lower costs.

Here's a typical day:

7 a.m.— Wake up and head out for a three-mile run. Breakfast always starts with a hot cup of green tea.

8:30 a.m.— Receive a call from a potential distributor in Kuwait to discuss regulatory requirements and certifications for selling skin care products in the Middle East. They require a Certificate of Free Sale, Bovine-Free Certificate, Health Certificate, and Formula Registration Certificate for each product.

9 a.m.— Conference call with Brandoctor, a branding and design company in Zagreb, Croatia, to define artwork requirements for two new product-line extensions. At the end of the call we review implementation ideas for the brand strategy. My company started in early 2007 by launching its products in exclusive celebrity gift bags and events.

10:30 a.m.— E-mail purchase order to manufacturing facility in China for a new order of black 4-oz. tubes. Contact formulation laboratory to confirm 3 p.m. meeting with chemist.

11:30 a.m.— Prepare packages of Dry Shave Gel samples for shipment to five new inquiring retailers. Drop boxes at a FedEx store on my way to a lunch meeting. Recently, Dry Shave was included in the exclusive Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night XIII celebrity gift bags and in the gift bags at the 8th Annual Children Uniting Nations Oscars Awards celebration dinner and after-party.

1 p.m.— Lunch meeting with legal consultant to revise three articles in the international distributorship agreement document for a new partnership in Canada. Currently we have distribution channels in over 10 countries.

3 p.m.— Arrive at laboratory in Fort Worth to meet with the formulation chemist. I test the new product formulation samples: One sample is perfect, but the other still needs some work. We discuss some suggestions for improvement and set up a follow-up meeting for next week.

5 p.m.— Return to office. Reply to e-mails, return missed calls, and review daily sales summary report.

7 p.m.— I get a call from my wife reminding me that we have dinner plans at her favorite Italian restaurant.

11 p.m.— I check my e-mails. Review plan for next day. Go to bed, preferably before midnight.

A men's skin care line may not seem to fit with my background in IT and finance, but when starting any business you first need to find something you are interested in, and then complement it with a strong sense of purpose. Industry knowledge is key. I did not need to be a 10-year veteran to have a strong understanding of the supply chain. The multifaceted, methodological, problem-solving thought process that I cultivated during my MBA at Southern Methodist University ended up being a great asset.

I also found tremendous value in connecting with my graduate school professors and alumni staff members who take great pride in assisting their alums. The contacts I made through my MBA alumni network provided me with valuable entrepreneurial business advice. One regret: I wish I had taken more entrepreneurial courses from Jerry White, the director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship, to help me launch the business.

Minkara can be reached at abe@boldformen.com .

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