Biz Op: Hair Dresser How-To App

Hey Everyone,

I recently interviewed a lot of people asking them what pain point they had in their daily work. I ended up getting more business opportunities than I know what to do with! So, I thought I might share some of those excess ideas with the group.

Anyway, this is a problem that is facing someone in the hair dressing industry.

In the customers words:

"I work as a hair dresser and although many things have evolved through software I still wish we could have a way to not brush up on all of the very latest trends of hair styling so often.

I would love an easier way of learning the techniques sometimes. Maybe more trendy hair cutting tutorials available on software."

This seems like an interesting opportunity for someone out there. My feeling is that the user is looking for a no brainer app to open and view the latest (10?) haircut styles with how to videos.

If I was going to follow up the opportunity I guess I would do deeper research and show app mockups to potential customers and see if I could get 10 checks cut to build the software!

Anyway, it would be interesting to see if anyone else thinks this is worth pursuing. Would love to hear what your ideas are for next steps for this biz op are.


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Ask the customer this simple question:

“Have you tried to find a solution for this yourself? Like attending training sessions? Have you paid for a training session ever?”

I would not be surprised by the answer.


You took the words right out of my mouth!
If they have not searched for a solution, how big a problem can this really be.
OTOH, you could also sign up for a free google Adwords account and see how many searches there are for this.

I would add:

After you do that Play Customer. Search for solutions yourself (or if they have NOT searched, search WITH them).

I bet you’re going to find a bunch of (varying quality) Youtube videos on this.


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I think it’s interesting that the focus has been that there must be existing competitors so no need to follow it up. BUT if one person is looking for this it means there is a high chance that there is an un served market.

So, even if there is competing solutions, clearly they have not found their way to this customer. How many other customers are there like that? Who have this need but didn’t find a solution?

If there are 10,000 hairdressers looking for a simple app that notifies them of a latest trend with an add free how to video… As a bootstrapper, you could have the beginnings of an interesting business no? How hard would it be to build? As you say you could probably already get the content from various sources.

Anyway, “competition” is a bad reason not to consider a business. As we’ve seen again and again if there’s no clear market leader there’s alway room for competition. And in most cases even if there is a market leader there’s still room for a new kid on the block. Just think about Slack and Duck Duck Go.

What do you think? :slight_smile:


I think this is really interesting.

First, can we agree that competition is generally a good thing for a bootstrapped business? Especially well-established competition that is doing a good job of educating the market.

There are many examples of startups entering an established market with existing solutions. Those existing solutions—on the surface—would seem to solve the needs of the market, but yet the newcomers find an audience.

  • Google entering the search market dominated by Lycos, Altavista, and AOL.

  • Duo Lingo entering a language training market dominated by Rosetta.

  • Drip entering a crowded email marketing automation space dominated by MailChimp, AWeber, ConstantContact, and InfusionSoft.

  • MindMeister entering the mind-mapping/flowcharting toolkit space dominated by Microsoft Visio, OmniGraffle, and others.

  • Teamwork competing with Basecamp in the project management space, also crowded by Zoho, Jira, Asana, Microsoft Project and others.

  • entering a more-crowded-by-the-day market dominated by one of the original SaaS giants, Salesforce.

  • We already had Hootsuite and Pluggio, why did we need Buffer?

  • Draft creating a distraction-free writing app in the crowded word processor space, dominated by giants like Microsoft Word and Google Docs with orders of magnitude more bells and whistles.

Need I go on?

Personally, I LOVE the idea of keeping an ear to the ground for customers that feel they have a need that perhaps a new startup can solve.

Why? Aren’t these just distracting, shiny objects?

I don’t think so.

Take the hairdresser example. If only as a research and validation exercise.

To become a licensed hairdresser, you have to get training. In those training sessions, in that school, you meet other hairdressers, estheticians, beauticians, stylists (whatever they call them). And as a working hairdresser, most of the time you’re working in a team environment with other hairdressers. You then would have to assume that these people, in a people-centric industry, find time to talk and share tips and tricks, and share resources that are helpful. Right?

I find it odd, then, that in this person’s interactions with other members of their hairdresser industry they’ve not come up with an app, service, or publication that satisfactorily solves their problem.

(bear with me, this is where the thought experiment unfolds)

If the above is true, then it follows that either:

  1. No adequate app, service, or publication exists that fulfills this need, or
  2. No app, service, or publication is known to fill this need. Meaning: no app, service, or publication that solves this need has made themselves known to the target market sufficiently through organic (here, probably word of mouth referrals) or paid channels to saturate the market enough that this particular hairdresser knows of their existence.

So, either no solution exists, or, one exists but is doing a terrible job of marketing.

Or, a third option: It’s the hairdresser’s fault for not doing a thorough search. Perhaps, this hairdresser is just doing a bad job of staying up-to-date in their own field. Maybe they’re just bad at The Googles. That’s easy to test, as well.

This is the next research step, in my opinion: Catalog what exists that would serve this need. Then find out why this person may not have heard about those solutions.

If nothing exists out there today that would solve this need (and I would be shocked if that’s completely true), then that raises some questions and concerns. Those questions would need further research, such as: perhaps no one is willing to pay to have this solved? That question is easy to validate with a combination of a yellow pages, a telephone, $50 in Facebook ads, and a landing page.

Next, if something fills this need and is rather successful, but are doing a poor job of marketing, that means they’re vulnerable to someone more savvy at marketing. Emulate what they’re doing right, eat their lunch with better marketing tactics.

If other solutions exist that don’t adequately meet the need, AND they’re not doing a good job of marketing, then this is a business that is ripe for further validation. Because we still haven’t asked the crucial question: how many others are eager to pay for something like this?

And so on.

Even if you’re not looking to start something new, and you’re completely focused on your existing business, I feel that the mental exercise of thinking through how one might go about validating a new idea is valuable to your own endeavors.

This exercise sharpens your skill of knowing how to find and ask the correct questions, in the right manner, in the correct order. Like other skills and talents, this skill of critical thinking—of rigorously forming and testing hypotheses—can atrophy and fade.

It’s not just a business skill. It’s a life skill. Make time to keep it sharp.

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What is it with software developers and hair dressers? :smile:


That’s the one of the first B2C industries with a recurring revenue model…

We’re prolly fascinated by this. :slight_smile:


… and dog walkers. And pool cleaners. And massage therapists. And college students. And teachers. Basically, every profession that doesn’t have money, doesn’t spend money, in many cases doesn’t see themselves as a business but a technician.


…and doesn’t like computers?


One difference is that just about everyone gets haircuts, so I suspect that it’s a much bigger market than dog walkers or pool cleaners. It’s also low cost of entry. I’ve known hair stylists working out of their home. (Admittedly, dog walking is even lower barrier to entry, but I have NEVER met a professional dog walker. Have met dozens of hair dressers)

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Baby u need to repost this reply on Medium, LinkedIn, Facebook… Hell snap this on snapchat to make sure every bootstrapper get this! :wink:

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I spent five years trying to sell to hairstylists. In my experience, stylists:

  • Live in an offline world (many don’t even have EMAIL)
  • Don’t like technology and approach every piece of software with ghastly ineptitude
  • Are very difficult to reach by phone
  • Possess a scarcity mindset (and so don’t talk with “competitors” and so don’t give referrals)
  • Are woefully inept as business owners, and make buying decisions like consumers, and have consumer-type money (e.g. $50/mo is a sizable expenditure to them)
  • Live in a different world than people like us in so many ways
  • Have a crazy churn rate because of all of the above (as in salons open and go out of business in staggering numbers)

Also, unless you’ve been a stylist, you’ll never have the domain knowledge and shared experience that all stylists have. You’ll never be able to “talk the talk” with them. I’ve found it very difficult to come in as an outsider and sell to people who are so incredibly not cut from the same cloth as me.

Your situation may be different than mine was. Speaking for myself, I would never ever ever go after the beauty industry again.


There are some benefits (few, I admit) to selling to non techies)

Have you considered a very low end, simple, cheap product?
(I.e., selling them a cheap WP website? (generic template that you can host for $2/m) and charge them $20/m).

Have you tried talking to hair stylists that have been around more than X (say 5) years (to weed out the inept business owners)?

The barbershop I go to has simple website. Most of the stylists I’ve been to in our (admittedly hi tech town of Blacksburg, VA) have had websites.