The Startup Helping Barber Shops Recover From a Barbaric Year

By Jemima McEvoy Friday, January 1, 2021

One of many industries to suffer in 2020 across the United States has been that of barber shops. For a large portion of the coronavirus pandemic, they were unable to operate. Since states have begun to reopen, it’s been at a limited capacity — with their livelihoods constantly under threat by the possibility of another wave of closures. As desperate small businesses search for a path forward, it’s other innovators and entrepreneurs that have helped provide hope. 

Such is the case with barbershop tech startup Squire, which, in a recent interview with TechCrunch, revealed how it has seen massive growth through the pandemic because of its bid to help beaten-up barber shops.

The Story of Startup Squire

Squire was launched in 2016 by entrepreneurs Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant, who are both in their 30s with previous success in corporate careers. The duo completed Y Combinator’s Summer 2016 accelerator program, scaling up and bringing to life their vision for a simpler way of getting a haircut. When it was created, the idea for the company was to make a mobile app where men can easily access the information they need to find and book the best barber in their area, anywhere in the country.

“Users can locate barbershops in their area, browse customer reviews, pay and tip — all in a few simple taps,” explained a 2016 Forbes review of the product. “Customers are charged a $.99 fee to book appointments through the app, which is added to their total upon payout. By using SQUIRE, customers simply show up, get their haircut, and then leave the shop without waiting in line or pulling out their wallet.”

Barbers could also benefit from the company’s platform by registering their shops for a $99 monthly subscription fee, serving as a source of exposure to residents in their area. Furthermore, they were given the opportunity to sell their products directly through the platform.

Coronavirus Boost

Though the idea for the company was always strong and interest was steady, the COVID-19 pandemic has given a sizable boost to Squire. “We just took off like a lightning bolt,” Salvant told TechCrunch. According to the report, the company’s revenue went from zero in March to between $10 million and $20 million close to the end of this year.

Bolstering that, Squire recently closed a funding round that brought in $59 million, months after closing its Series B fundraising at $34 million, led by CRV, Tiger Global, and Trinity Ventures. All of this interest from investors comes as Squire’s services have revealed themselves as more useful than ever.

The company wants to help barber shops streamline their services and transition into the digital age. Said services include hardware purchases and the installation of contactless cash payments, guidance on creating loyalty programs, web pages, apps, branding and more, in addition to the original appointment scheduling features. $15 million of the debt financing Squire taken on has been for its goal of creating a banking-as-a-service feature for business owners that the company’s co-founder Salvant describes as “underserved by traditional financial institutions.”

Squire’s plans, ranging from “pro” to “executive,” cost anywhere from $100 per month to $250 per month. Barber shops can decide depending on the amount of support they feel they need with boosting their companies from brick-and-mortar to accessible in the internet-dominated world.

As mentioned by Forbes, one key struggle that Squire has had to grapple with is distinguishing itself as useful despite the cultural traditions of barber shops. “Loyalty is a key cultural component of the barber shop experience, with customers forming lifelong relationships with their barbers,” explained writer Julian Mitchell. However, it seems that in a time when barber shops have been forced to the brink, this type of obstacle has become obsolete. Barber shops are focused on survival, and the first aid kit is adjusting to a changing world, which is exactly what Squire is helping its customers do.

The company told TechCrunch that, with its recent growth, it has plans to expand into new markets, including Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Per the article, most of the capital raised will be funneled into hiring new staff and marketing professionals to add to a 100-person team.

About the Author

Headshot for author Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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