Head smarts give Todd Greene the cutting edge, leveraging his multi-million dollar company, HeadBlade, into a worldwide phenomenon.
How does the self-made business man really get started? Listen up. It’s all in the accidental-millionaire lifestyle of Todd Greene. Per Todd, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
A self-proclaimed Jewish boy from Augusta, Maine, Todd has been a lifelong business man. The thing that separates him from the rest? He invented the HeadBlade, a revolutionary, ergonomic design in men’s grooming and by far the quickest, most effective way to shave your head.
So far, he’s made his millions. He continues to run his company, now in its 12th year, as the President and Founder, just as he’s run it since day one. He’ll be damned if retirement comes anytime soon. Life’s too short and he has a lot of head shaving to do.
In the early 90’s Todd was, as many men experience, beginning to lose his hair. Annoyed with the common remedies of the time, (Rogaine, hair transplant, even toupee recommendations from nosey family members), Todd realized there was a better way.
Head shaving now is a sexy, masculine style. Arguably because of Todd. Ten years ago, even he admits, sporting a shaved head had its stigmas.
He’d been shaving his head bald for two years and was frustrated with the result, which was, if he shaved at night, a five o’clock shadow by the following day. He noticed the typical razors did not, in fact, allow men to “shave-by-feel” on all sides of their heads.
Todd was savvy enough to know Gillette and Schick had a monopoly on the market. He also noticed that their revenues, including the men’s and women’s market, were in the hundreds of millions. Who doesn’t shave? If it’s not your head, it’s definitely your legs. If not the legs, perhaps your unmentionables? Everyone shaves. One thing or another.
In Todd’s words, “Huge companies base billions on the fact that everyone either shaves, at the very least, their face or legs.”
Todd knew there was a market. He knew HE was the market. Suddenly, he tapped in. Or should we say “shaved” in? He was rubbing his hands over his beautiful, shaved cerebral skull when he had THE Eureka moment.
“Why don’t I just invent it?” he said to himself. And, that was that.
Todd went into the initial design phase. How does one engineer, manufacture, market, and sell a one-of-a-kind design? He began with the research.
Todd knew that the general razor design just didn’t work. In his words, “the handle works against you and you can’t see the back of your head. Being a head shaver, I knew a shave-by-feel method would work the best.” He also studied the statistics, finding that nearly half of men experience hair loss during their lifetime.
This sets Todd up with an extremely generous marketing base and being one of his own, he went from there.
Having a degree from Bowdoin College, and experience in numerous fields- web content production and graphic design (initially working on ESPN’s original website), business development, product design/concept and manufacturing- Todd knew he had something unique to offer.
He began by planning and making models. First, on paper, then out of clay. His prototypes helped this visionary prove that he had something real. His initial investments were from his own savings, plus money from his father and two friends. From there he learned the meaning of a patent.
“Although, the real invention was my idea. Unless you patent it, it’s worthless. Someone could patent something similar the next day and you’re out of business.”
He was, as he notes, “ahead of the head shaving curve. Hair club for men was my father’s generation and I knew it. My generation was looking for something appealing and efficient.” Head shaving was becoming a style, and Todd intended to capitalize on it with his excellent and ergonomic design. He knew he could empower men to embrace not only their new style, but also a lifestyle.
Being part of the e-generation, Todd named his invention “HeadBlade” and in 1999 sold it as an e-commerce product on his self-designed website, www.headblade.com. He remembers the two initial years of working straight out of his apartment, of 1-800 numbers ringing straight to his room, and of selling HeadBlades straight out of his backpack.
Today, however, with an annual revenue totaling $9 million, those seem like the good old days.
In the good ol’ days, people began to take notice. However, working out of home had its disadvantages. When asked about his product’s retail distribution by an editor for inclusion in their magazine before online purchasing was widely used, Greene had to approach a retailer in order to be included in the magazine. And, that he did.
Fred Segal’s in Los Angeles began to carry his product and from there, magazines could cite not only his website but also the retailer to purchase his product. It was a keen and shrewd marketing move. He was saving on rent for a retail store AND garnering extensive marketing, all at the same time. Todd has generational vision, then and now, which is the key to this CEO. At the time, the only way to purchase a HeadBlade was from Todd directly, through his company’s website or phone system, or at Fred Segal’s. Now, the HeadBlade is carried in over 15,000 stores in more than 25 different countries, as well as Todd’s HeadBlade company directly. Currently, over one million HeadBlades have been sold.
Late in 1999, however, the ball was still rolling. A little magazine named TIME called up HeadBlade’s 1-800 number and asked a couple questions. They couldn’t give any details, but they did tell him, “It was good news.” A couple months later, HeadBlade was featured in TIME magazine as one of the “Ten Best Designs of 2000.” Later, in 2005, HeadBlade was also accessioned as part of the permanent collection of MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, under the Architecture and Design department. HeadBlade had been previously featured in a temporary exhibition in 2004 called, “Humble Masterpieces” at MoMA, Queens as well as independently featured in dozens of books, television shows, and magazines. Todd has personally received a handful of design awards. He was featured as one of GQ magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Bald Men in America and is also a guest blogger, for the Huffington Post. He has been asked to lecture at the Pasadena Art Center of Design, USC, and Pepperdine’s University Graziadio School of Business and Management on behalf of his business and industrial design ventures.
Psychologically speaking, Todd notes that there is a sense of commitment and action behind the conceptual design of HeadBlade. “I’m going bald is passive. I am shaving my head is affirmative; meaning action, aggression, and masculinity. It’s a way for men to own their appearance and encourage confidence in it.”
And own it, they do. Todd’s list of head shavers is the only database of its type in the world. He can’t release the specific number within his contact list, but with an international audience and sales totaling in the millions, we can assume it’s huge. HeadBladers include celebrities and athletes alike: Howie Mandel, NBA Star Al Harrington, MMA fighters Chuck Liddell, Mark “The Shark” Miller, Benji Radach, Shane Carwin, and Bas Rutten, as well as the major league baseball player also named Todd Greene, just to name a few out of the dozens.
His notoriety as an “accidental entrepreneur” has reached world-wide acclaim and continues to grow. He remembers the days of childhood when he enjoyed carving miniatures out of balsa wood, growing up with a passion for cars and design. He knew one day he would apply all of it.
To Todd, it was just a matter of when and what. When he found “it,” he continued to nurture his soul, as well as his business. Truth is, a little education never hurt a handshake. A lifelong fan of arts and literature, his favorites include Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and all of Ayn Rand’s novels. Todd notes he understood capitalism better after reading Rand’s novels, full of inspiration, passion, and philosophies for him. His interview is stacked with literary references and it’s gathered that such a worldly mind helps drive him as a CEO. Relate-ability is everything in Todd’s world.
His best business advice brings him back to the days when people didn’t “get” his invention. He pushed through regardless and recommends others do the same. “When you start something, you have a vision. People who critique it are essentially critiquing a work-in-progress. Don’t get discouraged. Bring your vision to fruition.”
He quotes Coelho when referencing the short story ‘Dream,’ “Three men are laboring in a field of rocks. When asked what they are doing each replies differently. The first says, ‘I am breaking rocks.’ The second says, ‘I am making money.’ The third says, ‘I am building a cathedral.’ I say it’s all in your perspective.”
When asked how it feels to be the featured Kasanova, he responds, “It’s a great honor. I was able to stay close to my original vision and came to market with a product that was well received by the intended target demographic. A great by-product by persevering has been the acknowledgement and accolades from other facets of business who appreciate the HeadBlade. The awards, the press, this interview, it’s all been amazing. Twelve years ago, while baking prototypes in my oven, if you had told me I’d be interviewed by a major men’s magazine, I may have laughed and said, “ Yes! One day, but today I cook razors!” In the back of my mind I would think, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
This self-made millionaire- fascinated with Picasso, Magritte, the absurd, ironic, beautiful and challenging- Mr. Todd Greene is, at the end of the day, content in laboring away for a cathedral.
Of his design, no doubt.