Even after earning her diploma in 2008 from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Romy Lindenberg showed no signs of slowing down: She wore many different hats over the years, first working as a strategist. She then worked as an executive director at HelloFresh at their DACH operations and later became an angel investor. But her true calling found her just before the pandemic broke out in 2020, when she founded the start-up SHAVENT with her father Armin Lutz Seidel. After a successful appearance on Höhle der Löwen, the father-daughter team is now shaking up the market with their high-quality, sustainable razors.
1. The first documented razors are thousands of years old. How can such an established product be reinvented today?
That’s right. And in fact, the classic safety razors we usually think of when we think of our grandfathers shaving were in some ways more modern than the ones we have today. Those were already making use of a material-efficient blade system that saw only minimal amounts of pure metal replaced once the used blades became dull.
It’s just that grandpa’s razor can’t offer the same level of shaving comfort desired today. Most of us learn to shave with a flexible head and a balanced contact surface of several blades, something that has seemingly “trapped” us so to speak. Today, we opt for razors with cheap handles from the drugstore, and then buy expensive, resource-intensive, and proprietary replacement blade cartridges.
And that’s what we wanted to do differently. The SHAVENT was my father’s idea, one that, as cliché as it sounds, came to him in the shower. He wondered why he was constantly spending so much money on interchangeable razor heads and generating so much non-recyclable waste. Since he couldn’t find an alternative that met his needs, he simply built a razor for himself. He then applied for a patent, and that’s how our family start-up came to be.
The SHAVENT combines the full comfort of modern shaving—a flex head and three blades—with the advantages of classic razors—pure, elegant metal. There’s no excess plastic, and it allows users to use standard, inexpensive blades.
2. Sustainability was of considerable importance during the SHAVENT’s development. Why do you think the time was ripe for this? And why does sustainability not necessarily have to mean ascetism?
When we first calculated how much waste is generated by wet shaving, we thought we had made a mistake and put the decimal point in the wrong place. Up to 500,000,000 blade cartridges end up in the trash every single year in Germany alone! That is equivalent to thirteen times the weight of the Statue of Liberty in New York! It’s almost unfathomable!
And the fact that many people shy away from switching to a safety razor was something we understood immediately after our first try. There’s no use in trying to shave quickly in the shower with a razor that has a rigid head and only one blade. You’re just begging to nick yourself. But it truly got under our skin that a desire for improved sustainability usually meant having to sacrifice comfort. Are we really still of the mindset that going green means having to wear some scratchy, woolen sweater?
No! The SHAVENT is proof that comfort, sustainability, and independence can be wonderfully combined!
3. SHAVENT is still a fairly young product. How have users reacted to it and have you noticed whether consumers have started taking sustainability into consideration?
Our customers are always so amazed by the shaving result they get with the SHAVENT. You can only get how emotional a topic like “shaving” can be first by reading our glowing reviews. It always inspires me how much people like our idea and how enthusiastic they are about the shaving results. With our 30-day money-back guarantee, we’re safeguarding our customers. Buying a SHAVENT means making a somewhat higher initial investment than one is used to if they have been buying alternatives from the drugstore. And yet, we’ve had an incredible time since we’ve started, even following our appearance on Höhle der Löwen [also commonly known as Shark Tank], our return rates have remained in the single digits. This shows me that SHAVENT really is the alternative we designed it to be, one meant for a broad target group.
The motives for buying the SHAVENT are actually quite diverse. For some, the avoidance of plastic is their first priority. For others, it is simply more about the value and independence they get with the product. They are tired of excess plastic and find themselves regularly getting annoyed when they are at the drug store buying more blades—annoyed with the prices, the bulky packaging, and their being dependent on a singular brand. The SHAVENT is the perfect remedy. You keep the comfort but exchange expensive cartridges for inexpensive, standard blades. After about 24 months, the SHAVENT pays for itself and even saves you money every year after that. To some customers, the fact that they also save on having to deal with a lot of plastic waste is just an added bonus.
4. Before founding SHAVENT, you had already worked as the managing director of Hello Fresh. How did your perspectives change once you become a founder yourself? Did your education at WHU play a role here?
After working in so many different areas (consulting, industry, start-ups), I had wanted to set up something myself for a long time. Our core project SHAVENT was born out of an original idea to start a company group focusing on several smaller, organically growing topics. It was a change that happened almost overnight, and I am happy about it every day. Well, maybe not every day, but most days for sure!
WHU, my time there, my education, the perspectives and attitudes there, the people I studied with—all of that is absolutely the foundation of my entire professional journey and a big piece of the puzzle of who I am as a person today as well. It would be impossible for me to determine any part of this journey that my time at WHU did not have a massive influence on.
5. Your co-founder at SHAVENT is Armin Lutz Seidel, your father. How does this father-daughter team work and do you see it as an advantage that your co-founder is a member of your own family?
Simply put, my dad and I complement each other extremely well. As an experienced mechanical engineer, he has a repertoire that I, as a business graduate, am often envious of. Conversely, I have a wealth of experience in B2C, ecommerce, and operations that decisively advances our product. That combination makes ours a somewhat different approach to family business!
And just for the record: I think there should be many more family start-ups! With thirty-eight years (yes, that is how old I am now!) under our belts of maintaining our debate culture, complete trust, and certainty about our common goals… with what other co-founders could I have that?