Squire, a company that launched last week at Y Combinator’s Summer ’16 Demo Day, makes software for barbershops. Not salons or beauty parlors or wherever else you get your hair cut… just barbershops.
So what makes a barbershop so unique that it warrants its own software platform? A few things.
First, most customers book a barbershop appointment the day of service, not weeks in advance like at a salon. Plus, a lot of barbershops rent their seats to a barber who is an independent contractor — this makes the back-end organization a little different than a typical salon.
Plus, the industry isn’t exactly niche. The entire men’s grooming industry will bring in more than $20 billion this year, and barbershops worldwide are obviously a huge part of that.
So to support these unique use cases and try to grab a piece of that $20 billion total customer spend, Squire built a platform for both the customer and the barbershop owner.
The customer-facing platform is a mobile app and website that lets users find barbershops close to them and book an appointment without having to call or text. Plus it lets you pay and tip your barber without having to use cash. Customers like it because they can book a haircut (and pay for it) just as easily as calling an Uber, and shops like it because it brings in new business from users who wouldn’t have normally found their shop.
The back-end platform for barbershop management is a little more complicated. It handles customer relationships, payments, scheduling and more — the startup says that it provides “all the technology that any shop would ever need.”
Bringing high-tech solutions to an old-school industry like barbershops is typically a recipe for disaster — just look at how painful the decade-long adoption of ordering and delivery technology by restaurants has been. But Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant, co-founders of Squire, said the reaction from barbershop owners has been pretty much the total opposite.
The duo quickly discovered that barbershop owners have already realized how technology has helped other industries increase their profits, and are ready to get on board with this whole technology thing.
Plus, owners obviously understand that they need to give their customers what they want, and customers definitely want to be able to book and pay on mobile.
Squire is currently live in a little over 100 shops in New York and San Francisco, and hopes to get to 1,000 shops in the next year. The company also is planning on rolling out a POS system to appease the people who still want to pay with cash and card.
Interestingly, the service is currently free for any barbershop that wants to use it — essentially the startup wants to get as many shops as possible on board, then monetize down the road by charging for extra services like accounting or marketing. Customers currently pay a fee of $1 per transaction, but that’s hardly a revenue generator — the money for Squire will be in signing up as many shops as possible, then slowly start charging them for new features.