Our latest alumni entrepreneur with a big idea has joined forces with one of his former classmates to revolutionise shaving for men all over Europe. We asked Tyvand Mckee how he plans to put one of his razors in the hands of the gentlemen of Europe.
My partner (Alex Jordan) and I both did a study abroad in Aix en Provence, France during our time at Regent’s. We had been friends before but we really got to know each other during this trip. We quickly discovered that though we had very different backgrounds - I had just finished my first internship in mergers & acquisitions while Alex had been working in web development and online marketing - we were both looking towards the same destination. We wanted to work for ourselves. It did not take long for us to realize that our two different skill sets would blend perfectly. We spent that semester constantly bouncing ideas off of each other. Some of the ideas were astoundingly grand, requiring enough start-up capital to bail out a small European country; others could be started with a shoestring. We finally decided on “Le Colonel Barbu”
Most men shave everyday, and even with electric razors the best and most common choice is the simple multi-blade razors such as those made by Gillette. As we all know, those blades get dull and need replacing. Those replacements can be quite expensive for the majority of the population. But they don’t need to be; a lot of what men are paying for is marketing. What’s more, we often find ourselves using the last cartridge a little bit longer than ideal, simply because we haven’t gotten around to getting new ones. Understandingly so, it’s a hassle to go out to get them. Usually it is the sole thing men are getting when they pick them up, sometimes they are locked behind a cabinet, and then we have to wait in a line to pay for them. To make matters worse, if you are like me, you haven’t shaved in a couple of days and you can’t help but feel that the cashier is judging you and your spotty half beard.
A brilliant American start-up has decided to tackle this problem, but they have yet to bring their solution to Europe. Tired of waiting, my partner and I have decided to bring the solution to Europe ourselves. Here’s how it works: men go online and subscribe to our website, colonelbarbu.fr (soon coming to other European countries too!), we buy in bulk from a German manufacturer, then once a month we ship out our blades to all our subscribers. Because we don’t spend tons on getting athletes to sponsor us we don’t need to charge crazy prices, and our subscribers never need to go pick up new blades!
We’ve chosen a German manufacturer not only because these are the people who brought us the engineering quality of Audi and BMW, but also because it allows us to take part in encouraging good factory working conditions, and European production.
The road of an entrepreneur is a hazardous one, riddled with risks, doubts, and pitfalls; things rarely go according to the original plan. 90% of all start-ups fail, and a failed start-up could easily claim a year of the founder’s life, if not more. That said, I don’t think I could do anything else.
My partner and I carry full responsibility and with that, full credit. If we do not succeed it will be because of our own error, if we succeed it is our accomplishment. We are not reliant on our superiors; we have full control of our lives and the life of this entity we are creating.
At first I wanted to say no, but I don’t think I can. Here is what I can say, Regent’s does not offer all the courses needed for the vast majority of entrepreneurial endeavors. Yes we learn some finance, economics, and basic business strategy. Regent’s does not offer calculus level mathematics, any sort of programming or strong web development. Despite this hole in their education, I’ve seen many students attempt their own start-ups; a surprising number actually. They find people to fill in their holes, they teach themselves, and they adapt. The last one is maybe the most important aspect of being an entrepreneur. Perhaps it is due to study abroad, a good mix of nationalities, or a selection bias. Whatever it is, as a whole, Regent’s students are incredibly good at adapting.
Last updated: 10 August 2015
Join Regent's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Aldwyn Cooper, for drinks and canapes at the Hotel Bel Air's Bar & Lounge.
Please note the revised date of Wednesday 3 November for the next Regent’s Club Capetown meeting at Societi Bistro.