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razor sharp insight: will king on capital conversation

King of Shaves Will King described himself as an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ last night on the Capital Conversation, “I went from a really nice salary and a car that I couldn’t afford, and long story short, I decided to back myself and solve a problem.”

The problem was poor quality shaving products, and the solution was in his then-girlfriend’s bath oils. After discovering her products gave him a closer shave, he developed his own and launched King of Shaves in 1993.

Operating in a sector dominated by one brand threw up hurdles for Will, but an eye for the internet gave the company a boost: “We bought the domain for £18 in 1995. Now it’s worth two to three million pounds.”

Following more than a decade of selling a variety of men’s products, King of Shaves launched its first razor in 2008; a move that almost doubled the company’s turnover to a high of £25 million.

The business continued to innovate – despite what Will calls an “ambivalence” to shaving developing – launching the Hyperglide razor in 2014, which requires water rather than shaving oil or foam.

Will still plays his part in the brand’s innovation, despite stepping down as CEO in 2014. It’s a hands-on approach that he says is in short supply: “I’m a relatively rare commodity, a founder still involved in my business,” adding, “I’ve done so much but there’s still so much to do.”

With founder-led businesses becoming more uncommon, Will casts a critical eye over modern entrepreneurship, particularly companies who are burning not earning: “They raise money and burn it, in the hope they will get bought.”

But he is positive that despite wider uncertainty, Britain can still keep its throne as Europe’s best for business: “We live in an extraordinary country. Irrespective of Brexit, there’s so much here to allow you to succeed.”

You can watch the full episode here.

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