Why shaving startup Harry's started a series of online business classes

Not content with changing the way men think about shaving, razor startup Harry’s wants to change the way students think about their entire careers. Toward that end, Harry’s has launched its own in-house educational program for budding entrepreneurs looking to lather up for success.

H’University is a free online lecture series launched by the brand late last month. The goal is to prepare students and recent graduates for “the real world.” Each class in the video series is taught by a single entrepreneur — including Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, restaurateur David Chang and fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff.

“College is a seminal moment when you think of what you want to be, and having the right guidance, mentors and connections can really help,” said Jeff Raider, co-founder and co-CEO at Harry’s. “It fits in with our social mission at Harry’s, which is to make it better for everyone to get ready — not just ready for the day but for life.”

Raider and his co founder Andy Katz-Mayfield established Harry’s in 2012 with an eye toward revolutionizing shaving in the way Warby Parker (Raider’s other startup) upended the eyewear industry: By ditching clunky, expensive products in favor of cheaper and better-quality ones. But while Raider took the traditional path to entrepreneurship — he went to business school first — he recognizes that some of the field’s most valuable lessons are not learned in the classroom.

The 20-minute lectures, therefore, detail the various entrepreneurs’ successes and failures in a bid to teach students things they can’t necessarily learn in school. They are available online for anyone to participate.

At the end of the program, H’University also works to connect students and young graduates with a range of hiring partners, including Michael Kors, Plated and Pencils of Promise for summer internships as well as full-time positions starting summer 2016. The program first kicked off in 2104 and had two previous beta versions which required an application process.

“Sometimes the best way to learn is by watching, listening and absorbing, and that’s what H’University provided,” said Chase Denison, a New York University student who was part of H’University’s Spring 2015 class and interned at Michael Kors through the program. “However, today, being connected with the right people is ever important, and Harry’s provided that through the speakers and hiring partners.”

Other brands are ramping up their training efforts, too. Nike, PepsiCo. and Unilever, for instance, have been establishing startup incubators of their own in search of the next great marketing innovations. The Harry’s initiative, for its part, is designed to provide students like Denison a fresh insight into entrepreneurship and business. But at the same time, Denison added, it is also a nice bit of marketing for the brand. “This program gave me a new lens to the Harry’s brand that I think more people need to see through,” he said.

But for Raider, the ultimate goal is to change perspectives. “If they think our brand is different as a result — that’s great — but we aren’t doing it to boost the brand or to make money.”