Is Todd Greene too impulsive?
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The Razor s Edge
With a hip target market and a cool product concept, Todd Greene hopes to carve out a niche for himself in the
tough razor industry. But can the HeadBlade cut it as a company?
By Mike Hofman l Mar I, 2000
Anatomy of a Start-Up
With his snazzy new product, Todd Greene hopes to carve out a niche for himself in the tough razor
industry. But can the HeadBlade cut it as a company?
It’s not that Todd Greene really wanted to start a company. His temper just got the better of him.
As a wispy-haired 30-year-old, Greene invented a razor designed specifically for the Kojak set – men who opt to
shave their heads, often before nature does the job for them. Early last year he tried to sell the concept to two
large makers of men’s grooming products, only to be rebuffed. But one kiss-off was particularly cutting. It came
from the Schick division of Wamer-Lambert Co., a $10.2 billion conglomerate based in Morris Plains, N.J. The
tacky five-sentence form letter was actually stamped “Rejection.” “When Igot that letter, I thought, â€˜Screw it. I
might as well work on this on my own,” Greene says.
It was an impulsive beginning for the HeadBlade Co. LLC, but then Greene tends to be an impulsive guy.
Evidence: he met his wife, Danielle, by E-mail and married her three weeks later. It took him slightly longer – 12
weeks to be exact – to take his product to market. At 2.25 inches long, the HeadBlade resembles a miniature
yellow Jet Ski and fastens loosely to the finger like a candy ring. Greene created the razor by baking clay
prototypes in the kitchen of his apartment in Santa Monica, Calif.
Greene’s HeadBlade debuted for sale last June on a Web site he’d built himself. He drummed up interest for the
$15 item by posting messages on Web bulletin boards that catered to his target customers, which include balding
men, hardcore athletes, members of the military, and aspiring bohemians. In the first week Greene tallied sales of
$300; these days weekly receipts average $3,000. In addition to being sold on the Web, the HeadBlade is also
available at 16 retail stores. Greene expects to lose $173,000 on sales of $1 .6 million this year and hopes to make
money in 2001, when sales are projected to reach $4.7 million.
But to cash in on his idea fully, Greene will have to sculpt a solid company. After all, he’s hardly operating in the
high-tech world, in which an entrepreneur needs only a half-baked idea to ignite a bidding war among potential
acquirers. “Companies like Gillette are not really known for buying smaller companies,” explains Mark Godfrey,
an analyst who follows the industry for Invesco Funds Group Inc., a Denver investment firm that manages $30
billion in assets. “They spend so much on R& D that their attitude tends to be that if there’s something to be
developed, they’ll develop it themselves.”
Building an organization will require creativity on Greene’s part. He’s raised only $150,000 in seed capital – not
much for a business that manufactures and markets a consumer product. Even so, he claims, his goal is “to make
the HeadBlade a household name, like Miracle Whip and Kleenex.”
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