Inspired by Uber's business model, on-demand barber startup Shortcut is challenging the traditional retail model of getting a haircut.
Shortcut's app connects consumers with local hair pros who will come to them for a convenient trim (or total hair makeover). The company's co-founder and COO Will Newton says it's not just about convenience, though. The company aims to bring a personal touch to the gig economy by showcasing barbers' profiles and allowing users to pick the stylist of their choice. Unlike some other on-demand services, Shortcut wants to facilitate relationships and drive repeat bookings.
"What's baffling about other gig economy companies is there's no relationship built into the product," Newton told Cheddar.
The rise of the gig economy has led to the emergence of on-demand service platforms including Handy, TaskRabbit, and a long list of ride-hailing companies. There are 57 million people in the U.S. participating in the gig economy, amounting to 36 percent of workers, according to a 2018 Gallup poll.
In addition to the growing gig economy, Newton pointed to the direction of the job market and the growth of workers seeking to be barbers as an indicator for the sustainability of Shortcut's business model.
"Barbers are growing at 30 percent a year, as fast as any job in the country." Newton said. "These jobs can't be automated."
Shortcut monetizes by taking 20 percent of what a barber on the app charges for a haircut. The average price for a haircut on the platform is $55, but barbers are given the flexibility to set their own prices and market themselves. If hair pros bring on a client of their own, they get to keep 100 percent of that fare, and Shortcut charges a service fee to the consumer.
To supplement the business-to-consumer strategy, Newton sees a big opportunity in B2B as well. Shortcut partners with companies including Facebook, DraftKings, and T-Mobile to organize onsite office events that lets employees to get haircuts on the job.