Japanese startup aims to disrupt market duopoly with razor subscription service


See the original story in Japanese.

Shaving is regular part of most men’s daily routine. And now there’s a Japanese company trying to make that routine a little less troublesome. Tokyo-based startup OpenUp launched a subscription-based razor delivery service back in December. It’s called Tokyo Shave Club.

When you sign up for the service on their website, a new razor blade will be delivered to you every month, and the payment will be automatically processed. This of course will remind many of our readers of a similar service from the US, Dollar Shave Club.

According to a survey, Schick and Gillette own more than 80% of the Japanese razor market. The vision of this startup is to disrupt that market by providing consumers with more convenience.

The company’s CEO Yusuke Ido believes that the current market duopoly limits the variety of shaving products available in stores, reducing the chance that consumers can buy a really good product.

Patented six-blaze razor

They deliver a patented six-blade razor product every month, produced by Korean maker Dorco. Generally speaking, the more blades, the better your shave. But the company provides two-blade and four-blade types as well.


  • Premium plan: A six-blade razor with three spare blades for 800 yen/month (shipping and handling included)
  • Standard plan: A four-blade razor with three spare blades for 600 yen/month (S&H included)
  • Simple plan: A two-blade razor with four spare blades for 100 yen/month (requires 250 yen for S&H)

If you use a typical razor, you usually need to replace a blade every week or every ten days. Otherwise, it could irritate your skin. So in order to get more people to use the service, the company has to educate users about why they should a good razor, and assure them of the product’s quality and convenience.

Dollar Shave Club succeeded in their marketing efforts with a viral YouTube video starring their CEO (see below). In a similar way, Tokyo Shave Club has perhaps an even more attractive marketing effort (as you can see in the video above) to catch the eye of potential users.

This sector has been getting lots of attention since NY-based startup Harry’s recently took over a 93-year-old razor factory in Germany. That company was founded by Jeffrey Raider, co-founder of glasses e-commerce site Warby Parker.

So it will be interesting to see how Tokyo Shave Club can impact the market in Japan.