Today I would like to introduce you to a very special Female Role Model, namely: Romy founder and CEO of SHAVENT. Together with her father Armin Lutz Seidel, she has developed a swing-head razor that is plastic-free, durable and unisex.
Dear Romy, what a great opportunity to introduce you to the FemalExperts community in our interview series!
I’ll “hop” right into the Q&A session, because you’re no stranger to the start-up scene. You were previously Managing Director at HelloFresh, among other things. Would you like to take us on your entrepreneurial “life journey” for a moment?
I’ve done super many different things, consulting, industry, startups – and just “fell in love” with young companies. The direct impact you have every day, the relaxed, solution-oriented collaboration, the common mission – that motivates me incredibly every day.
The leap from a “safe” management position into the fast-moving start-up world certainly seems very courageous to many female readers. What made you decide to make a new start with SHAVENT?
I’ve also always really appreciated my roles at big companies like Burda and Sky, been able to make a lot of things happen and met great people. But I would never want to trade security for discovering something new. First, because I think the feeling of “security”, no matter what the situation, is deceptive and second, because otherwise you would miss out on the best things in life!
What would you say is the main difference in terms of your previous job as CEO at HelloFresh and your current one as an entrepreneur?
I have always done everything with all my heart – that’s why there is no classic answer to this. But in the end, of course, it’s just something different when you’re working on your “own baby.” Especially as a family startup, it’s another very special experience – when you’ve known each other for over thirty years, it’s a completely different basis.
I’m particularly impressed that you worked out the product idea together with your father Armin. How did it come about?
The SHAVENT actually occurred to my father in the shower. He was tired of expensive residual waste with the classic interchangeable heads, but has not found a good alternative for himself – razors were much too uncomfortable for him and for body shaving, these metal razors with stiff heads are almost not at all suitable. So, without further ado, he developed his own plastic-free swing-head razor using the 3D printer I had previously given him for Christmas – and 36 prototypes later, he showed it to my mother and me. We were blown away and thought, “Not only is this one more sustainable than traditional drugstore razors, it’s BETTER!” We couldn’t keep that to ourselves, so I suggested that we start our Family Startup together.
Many do not dare to start up in a partnership or family setting for fear that private and business matters could conflict with each other. How do you deal with such a situation?
We have never had a strict separation of job and private life anyway. I also think that’s an artificial separation if you really put your heart into what you’re doing. But of course it was also a bit weird to “only” talk about SHAVENT. That’s why we now deliberately have “razor-free evenings”, where work topics are banned and we simply spend time together as a family.
“Sustainability” is currently the buzzword within the start-up scene. Everyone wants to produce in a more sustainable, value-adding and environmentally conscious way. How do you specifically address this topic?
We didn’t have to integrate into an off-topic field, but started with a more sustainable approach to shaving already in place. We strongly believe in making sustainability beneficial and beautiful so that a significant number of people switch to sustainable alternatives. You won’t find a raised index finger with us, we want to convince with the advantages of sustainable shaving: In addition to plastic, the inexpensive standard razor blades used for the SHAVENT save a lot of money in the long run and instead of an unsightly colorful plastic piece, you have a stylish eye-catcher in the bathroom – and without having to give up the comfort of a gentle shave with a flexible oscillating head and three blades.
In 2021, your company’s profile has increased dramatically, because with Nico Rosberg and Judith Williams, you have attracted a power investor duo to your team on Höhle der Löwen. For those who want to dare a little look behind the scenes: How did your appearance in this well-known TV format come about?
That was super exciting. In fact, we had no intention of approaching investors because we wanted to grow our family startup organically. Then one day we had a message from “Die Höhle der Löwen” (The Lion’s Den) on our mailbox asking if we wanted to apply for the show. We thought about it very carefully and talked to many startups that were on the show and all of them highly recommended participating. So we ventured into the lions’ den and it was really a very positive experience.
What was the next step for you?
The airing was insane for us: We were able to show millions of people who might not otherwise be concerned with sustainability our convenient alternative for a gentle plastic-free shave – and we were able to convince so many! We were completely sold out and sometimes had up to 8 weeks delivery time – we worked like savages and it motivated us incredibly, because it showed us: We offer a real alternative!
As a female founder in the startup world, you’re sometimes looked at like a “rarity.” Did you have similar experiences when you ventured onto this new stage?
Women who successfully found companies have been around for decades – it’s great that many of them are currently getting more attention. So many more people see that it’s not the shape of your “private parts” that decides what goes and what doesn’t!
Do you have any tips for (aspiring) female founders who want to take the leap into entrepreneurship?
Do! If you have a great idea that excites you, go for it! What if it goes wrong? What if it does NOT go wrong!!!
Finally, one of my favorite questions: What’s next for you, your team and your company in the coming years?
Our goal is clear: we want to free the bathrooms of this world from plastic! Currently, we are still mainly on the road in German-speaking countries, but we want to tackle our European neighbors next. For this purpose we are always looking for great new colleagues for our team and would be very happy if you feel like visiting our jobs page and contacting us.
Dear Romy, thank you so much for these incredibly exciting insights! In fact, SHAVENT is not only an innovative company. It is a unique constellation (father-daughter duo) that shows us that together really strong ideas can be implemented and become successful.
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.