Read Original Article HERE written by Ebony Grimsley-Vaz
This is one in a Moguldom original series that shines the light on the founders featured on MogulWatch, a comprehensive list of startups that have received venture capitalist funding. Find out how much money they have received from whom, and news and data about their company.
When Courtney and Dr. Tye Caldwell expanded and rebranded their hair salon, Salon74 by Tye, they were frustrated to see how many of their chairs were going empty.
Their tech solution for wasted space and lost revenue is ShearShare, a mobile app that gives stylists and barbers space when and where they need it.
Based north of Dallas in McKinney, Texas, the Caldwells have grown beyond their original target of three major cities. They’re now servicing clients in more than 400 cities and 11 countries with their mobile app.
The couple draw on his doctorate in professional barbering and her degrees in marketing, which she used to help companies including Zendesk, Zenefits, Qualtrics, and RightNow Technologies. Together, they’ve found success in a concierge-style business.
Dr. Tye is the author of “Mentored by Failure: A 5-Point Guide to Long-Term Success in the Beauty & Style Industry.”
He and Courtney shared with Moguldom how building relationships and asking questions helped them to grow their business and raise more than $1 million from investors including Steve Case, founder of AOL and D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution Ventures.
Moguldom: Why did you start ShearShare?
Dr. Tye Caldwell: We started ShearShare primarily on a need that we had for ourselves. It was frustrating to see many of our chairs go empty after we expanded and rebranded our salon and we realized stylists weren’t looking to sign long-term contracts. They wanted to work when and where they are needed and not even deal with the overhead. They just needed space to take care of their clients. We realized this early on in 2012, so we wanted to try it out by giving a stylist just that — space. Not recognizing, over the course of time, we’d be mainly doing this for several other stylists. That’s how we came up with ShearShare. It was a frustration we had to solve for ourselves.
Moguldom: How have other stylists received it?
Courtney Caldwell: They’ve loved it. I mean this is the first time believe it or not, that in the beauty and barbering industry, stylists have an opportunity to rent space by the day. Usually, you’re locked into a long-term contract, or you’re working somewhere full-time and providing a commission to that salon or barber shop owner. ShearShare gives them an opportunity to be flexible, to get into the industry, or to get out of the industry what they are putting in. We’re able to make sure they’re able to service their clients when and where they need it.
Moguldom: Your website says you are in over 300 cities.
Dr. Tye Caldwell: Well it’s funny you say that we are now in over 400 cities and 11 countries. We hit 400 cities about two weeks ago.
Courtney Caldwell: Woohoo! Yes, lots of hard work.
We were able to walk away as the first Texas startup to (win) Google Demo Day. That was pretty big. To have the backing and the exposure of such a huge company was phenomenal. Then … being funded by Steve Case at the Rise of the Rest Fund. Signing on TD Lowe (to our advisory board). She’s well-known out in the Valley, startups love her. She can barely walk from her car to the grocery store without being pitched. We also have Kim Kimball ( celebrity stylist).” — Courtney Caldwell, co-founder of ShearShare, on notable wins.
Moguldom: Congratulations! How did you identify the cities to expand into for your clients?
Courtney Caldwell: It’s great. Tye and I thought we were going to launch in three cities at first, but once stylists started to hear we could help them find space to work in on a day-by-day basis before we even had the name ShearShare, we began assisting stylists in other cities. People would call us and say, “Hey, I need to go to this city for this reason.” Or, “I need to go home next weekend, I just need space in this area with these types of amenities.” We found ourselves manually matching stylists to empty salon space for three years. That’s how we built ShearShare, phone call by phone call, city by city. We were serving as a concierge service. Now we’re in hundreds of cities.
Being able to make sure that we are helping people keep their beauty and barbering businesses open every day is a big deal.” — Courtney Caldwell, co-founder of ShearShare
Moguldom: What do you feel are some of your most notable wins?
Courtney Caldwell: Google Demo Day, which was just earlier this year around April. That was a big deal because they brought a handful of the top, most impactful startups around the world to San Francisco, not just in a specific state or a particular region. There were some amazing talent and wonderful ideas at the event. We were able to walk away as the first Texas startup to bring home the title as the winner of Google Demo Day, and that was pretty big. I mean to have the backing and the exposure of such a huge company was phenomenal. Then I think rolling right into being funded by Steve Case at the Rise of the Rest Fund. Most people know Steve Case is the founder of AOL. Having him come on as an investor of ShearShare was pretty significant as well. I would say signing on two really big names to our advisory board. One is TD Lowe. She’s well-known out in the Valley, startups love her. I mean she can barely walk from her car to the grocery store without being pitched. We also have Kim Kimball on the beauty side. Kim Kimball is celebrity stylist to Beyonce, Oprah, Nicki Minaj, Shakira, and others. We couldn’t be happier with these two powerhouses on the advisory board for ShearShare. Regardless of what awards we’ve won, being able to make sure that we are helping people keep their beauty and barbering businesses open every day is a big deal.
When we kept getting phone call after phone call from stylists, we said to ourselves, ‘Wait a minute, this is starting to sound like one of those things they call a startup.’”
Moguldom: How did you cultivate these types of relationships?
Courtney Caldwell: You know, we get asked this question a lot. I think my husband and I, we share a spirit of teachability. What comes with that is, if we don’t know something we ask. TD was one of the first people we called when we had the idea for ShearShare. When we kept getting phone call after phone call from stylists, we said to ourselves, “Wait a minute, this is starting to sound like one of those things they call a startup. Who has used that word with us before?” We decided to call the person who had said the word startup before and just asked her about this idea and this experience we were having, and what we had been doing for almost 24 months. I think because we’re not afraid to ask questions we found people are open to giving you answers. If they don’t have the answers, they’ll connect you with someone else. Tye and I are a little bit longer in the tooth, as he likes to say. This is not our first rodeo, right? It’s our first tech startup together, but we’re a little bit more mature in years, and we understand the value of relationships.
Moguldom: Tye, the foreword of your book, “Mentored By Failure,” is written by motivational speaker Les Brown. You’ve been to his seminars, worked with him in his workshops and were one of his speakers. Did that experience benefit you at tech competitions and pitching your business?
Dr. Tye Caldwell: I think it did. I’ve always been a type of person where I wanted to be able to communicate and express myself well whether it be pitch, whether it be in long talks or short talks because I teach. I always wanted to make sure I was at least an expert communicator. Knowing how to get those inflections in your voice, using your diaphragm, all those things you need to understand when you’re talking (that) give you the confidence you need. Getting those types of lessons from him and mentorship helped me a lot.
Moguldom: Courtney, how much money have you guys raised?
Courtney Caldwell: We just wrapped up our pre-seed round earlier this year, and we brought in around $1.1 million. I believe we’re the first Black female-led startup in Texas — in Dallas for sure — to do that.
Moguldom: How do you keep the creativity flowing so that you’re making the best product and services for your clients?
Courtney Caldwell: Well there are a couple of things we do on a daily basis that one would peer in and think, “Oh gosh they’re a little old married boring couple.” However, what it boils down to is us being very disciplined in how we approach the day’s challenges. Every morning Tye and I get up and pray and meditate. We’re vegans. We’re very cautious about what we feed our minds and our bodies. I can tell you once we went vegan, the way we’ve been able to run this startup has been mind-boggling. I can’t imagine doing things the way we had done before going vegan and still jumping on a plane almost every week, sometimes flying from New York to California and back again on the same day. We have our 17-year-old son who’s in his last year of high school, plus, family and friends you still want and need to maintain relationships. I can’t imagine us doing all of that and not having a very disciplined health regime which includes working out and meditation.
Dr. Tye Caldwell: We had to make a “healthy self” more of a conscious mind. Because at the end of the day the cliché is still true, “your health is your wealth.” There are so many things that happen within a day’s time whether it be with your health, or whether it be with your mind dealing with tech and having to change on the fly in your business. Different things may come up. Ensuring you’re healthy to be able to move on a dime is where it all starts.
Our vision is accessibility should be affordable. By design we chose to fix the space problem. No matter what kind of clippers a barber likes to use or what kind of flatiron a stylist likes to use, they have to have a space to work.”
Moguldom: What do the next five years look like for ShearShare?
Dr. Tye Caldwell: One of the things is consistently growing. We know this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We’re looking at everything strategically, and we’re very deliberate in what we’re doing. We have a list of things we’re working on rolling out. We’re building things that are enhancing the growth of the industry as a whole. We want to give people the opportunity to stay in this industry and save time and money based on what they need from us.
Courtney Caldwell: Our vision is accessibility should be affordable. By design we chose to fix the space problem, right? Because no matter what kind of clippers a barber likes to use or what kind of flatiron a stylist likes to use on his or her client, they have to have a space to work. We knew if we got that done since that sits at the very beginning of the stylist’s lifecycle, then that audience or those users would entrust us with even more. We’re looking at providing items like insurance, B2B tools like accounting and finance, taxes and pay stubs. Everything always goes back to, “I want to be able to pay for this resource I need to run my business today when and where I need it.” So besides putting the proper tools in our customer’s hands, there are over 19,400 cities in the U.S. and ShearShare would love to be in each one of those.