Exclusive: Investors Bet $1.5 Million That Billie Can Be the Dollar Shave Club for Women
Finally, investors are waking up to the fact that women shave.
Billie, the women’s counterpart to subscription razor services like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding, the startup tells Fortune. The round was led by Female Founders Fund, Greycroft Partners, and Lakehouse Ventures.
While there has been a proliferation of women’s subscription service startups flooding the market over the past few years, there has been a surprising dearth of companies catering to feminine shaving needs. It’s particularly puzzling when you consider that one of the two major players in the men’s space, Dollar Shave Club (DSC), was acquired by Unilever for $1 billion last summer.
“Women are sort of an afterthought in this category,” says Billie co-founder Georgina Gooley. She notes that while shaving is “celebrated” when it comes to men, women have a more negative relationship with razors.
Former Gillette CEO Jim Kilts would agree. In his 2010 book Doing What Matters, in which he discusses the shaving industry in-depth, he explains the difference between male and female attitudes as follows: “Men view shaving as a skill; women see it as a chore.”
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Gooley, along with co-founder Jason Bravman, is trying to change that. The duo launched Billie last month and positioned the company to be a “female-first body brand.” To drive that message home, the company donates 1% of revenue to women’s causes (they are currently working with model Christy Turlington Burns’ Every Mother Counts) and offers a cleverly-packaged “pink tax rebate”—essentially a points system for referring friends.
If the “buy one, give one,” idea sounds familiar, that’s because it is: Bravman credits his brother-in-law, Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal, with teaching him about the importance of giving back. “A lot of the values that are core to them are core to us,” he says. The “pink tax” refers to the extra amount that women spend on items that are nearly identical to those marketed to men.
Billie works much like men’s subscription services, and at a similar price point: A (free) delivery of four razor cartridges costs $9—exactly what a DSC delivery costs. By comparison, Gillette’s Venus brand cartridges cost $17 for a four pack.
Aside from the discounted price—which may not be a competitive advantage for long, seeing as Gillette is introducing lower-priced men’s products to compete with Harry’s and DSC—the founders also pride themselves on the ergonomic design of the handle and a magnetic razor holder, which can be attached to a shower wall.
“We’re not just taking existing products and turning them pink,” says Bravman. “And our customers see that.” Investors do, too.