In some ways, Mike Boone was both the least likely and most likely person to invent the perfect shaving cream. “I bought a handful of bottles of what was supposed to be the best of the best to try,” he recalls. “I realized they all had all the same ingredients, and none of them worked that well.” A serial entrepreneur, Mike set up an appointment at a California chemistry lab, to see if they could land on any innovative ideas. “At first, no one really cared much that I was there. But then I pointed out that every single white board in the lab was one I had designed and sold earlier in my career,” says Mike. That little tidbit intrigued the chemists enough that they spent the day tinkering with a guy who had some slick-surface credentials to create a product that offered supreme slipperiness and built-in moisturizing (thanks, aloe and macadamia nut oil!). “The original formula is still what we came up with on the spot—it was the perfect set of circumstances,” adds Mike.
But it wasn’t until Mike partnered with Kyle Shroeder, a Wharton grad who’d taken an unexpected detour into modeling (#blessed), that the Cremo Cream brand took off. “The first time I tried it, I got a better, closer shave. That was nine years ago, and since then, it’s been bootstrapping at it’s finest,” says Kyle, the marketing and operations guru. How’s that for a business that cuts against the grain? —liz sheldon