It was a simple idea that has taken one segment of the economy by storm: Fill empty beauty salon stations via mobile techology. A Naveen Jindal School of Management alumna and her husband are garnering startup accolades as news spreads about their innovative app.
Courtney Caldwell, MBA’06, and her husband, Tye, own Salon 74 by Tye in Plano. For several months after they expanded, a number of stations sat idle. During this same time, Tye was getting inquiries from hairstylists looking for stations to rent on a per-day basis.
“These traveling stylists were not looking for a long-term contract or even a weekly commitment,” Courtney says. “They simply desired professional salon space in which to service their local clientele. That was when ShearShare was born.”
Courtney, who has extensive marketing experience, says her education at the Jindal School changed her perspective. “I feel that my MBA helped prepare me to recognize marketplace trends,” she says. “Being able to see things through a different lens really gave me a license to take intelligent risks.
“My husband likes to say, ‘Jump — and grow your wings on the way down.’ I believe that my UT Dallas education underlines that type of entrepreneurial spirit,” says Courtney, who was named a 2015 Direct Marketing News “40 Under 40” honoree. She also serves as on the advisory board of the Naveen Jindal School of Management’s Institute for Excellence in Corporate Governance.
Since beta testing the app at the beginning of 2016 in six cities, the Caldwells have moved ShearShare into more than 200 U.S. cities and eight nations in less than four months.
The average U.S. salon operates at about 60 percent capacity, according to Courtney. “Most salon owners have excess inventory that is collecting dust versus dollars,” she says. “By listing their open salon space on the ShearShare app, they get to monetize their extra salon chairs or suites. On the flip side, traveling cosmetologists who want to work out of professional salon environments have the opportunity to lease by the day and not be tied down with a long-term contract.”
Courtney says her husband, who mentors cosmetology students, has found that young stylists—those in the millennial age group—worry about paying for salon space right after graduation and not having a large enough client base to cover costs. “The Millennials continue to tell us that what’s important to them is access, not ownership,” Courtney says.
The current model for monetizing the ShearShare app is to charge users a fee per booking. In a nationwide competition, ShearShare was invited to present at Startup Grind in Silicon Valley. To be accepted into Startup Grind, a fledgling company must service a billion-dollar market and be poised to grow by 10X month-over-month. ShearShare also was recently accepted into YC Fellowship, a highly regarded accelerator program that confers $20,000 to help with startup costs.
“This is amazing news about the YC Fellowship,” says Jeremy Vickers, executive director of The University of Texas at Dallas Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “To say that Courtney and Tye are knocking it out of the park in the entrepreneurial world is an understatement.”