What’s your mission?
I’ve heard countless stories about the transformative power of a good haircut, and we’d like people to experience that feeling as often as possible. We see theCut as a place where both barbers and clients come for all their men’s grooming needs. theCut is a mobile platform for connecting barbers and clients. We plan to build the largest technology platform in the men’s grooming industry, including tools that empower barbers to take control of their business and for users to have the convenience and ability to make educated grooming decisions.
What inspired you to start your company?
Personal need. I think many founders will tell you that attempting to solve their own problems is what eventually led them to launch a company. For me, it was a lifetime of disappointments related to the barbershop experience––whether it be extremely long wait times or the inability to find a talented barber when I was away from home. When I moved to North Carolina to start a new job, I had to go more than a month without a fresh cut because I hadn’t found my go-to barber. This was around the same time I was learning how to code, which made it easier to envision a technology-enabled solution to an age-old problem.
I think many founders will tell you that attempting to solve their own problems is what eventually led them to launch a company
Why equity crowdfunding? Why Republic?
We saw the immense value in running a equity-driven campaign with the public and recognized Republic’s commitment to our––and the investors’––success. For us to continue to grow, we needed the capital to attend industry trade-shows and raise awareness. Traditional angel investors and VCs were initially hesitant about the market opportunity, so we knew we had to find a partner who understood the problem we’re trying to solve and believed in our mission. With Republic, we’ve found that partner and hopefully hundreds more in our investors.
Our users and the power of community stood out as a great choice for our fundraising efforts. We figured if we could convince barbers to invest in the company, we could both validate the business and enlist an army of brand advocates who now feel ownership of the company and are committed to its success. The same goes for their clients who are using the app as well. We also realized this would be an incredible opportunity to give a demographic of consumers the opportunity to create and build wealth like never before. Republic made sense due to its focus on underserved founders.
What problem does theCut solve?
The men’s grooming experience hasn’t seen the same innovations that female-focused salons have. Product and service discovery can be difficult and misperceived. Barbers often don’t take appointments, and those that do tend to manage bookings on paper. Clients like myself are left walking into local shops and hoping for an open chair with long wait times and the looming fear of a sub-par cut with a barber you may have never used before. The efficiency and productivity gains from technology have been slow to make their way to the barbering industry, so we created theCut to fill that gap.
Who is in your core team? How did your team come together?
We’ve actually all known each other for more than a decade and became best friends in high school. After graduation, we went off our separate ways to different universities but never lost contact. Our core team consists of three dedicated individuals, each with a very particular set of skills.
Kush and I have always talked about starting a business together, and once we had both spent some time in the corporate world, we realized that we’d build something together. After sharing terrible barbershop and haircut experiences, we knew it was time to get together and solve a real problem. Our team brings an authenticity to the market and the ability to connect with customers - both barbers and clients - in a genuine matter. We’re able to create content and messaging that speaks to our target consumers and reflects a brand they can identify with.
Ever experienced a “life-changing moment?”
I would have to say a trip some friends and I took to Europe a couple years is my most pivotal moment to date. I love traveling and like to consider myself a wanderluster. The trip was incredible, from the food to the scenery to the culture. It was then that I realized I wanted the ability to travel as often as I’d like without reservation. I knew I needed to spend every second working towards that goal and I wanted it sooner rather than later. Upon returning from the trip, I started working on theCut and had the first version of our website up 2 months later.
What’s your decision-making process?
We try to understand the desired and potential outcomes and gauge its impact on independent processes and the business as a whole. We have a decision matrix with five key areas that we evaluate some decisions with. A score is calculated for us to use a more quantitative approach when one is not readily available.
What’s the latest product that gave you the wow factor using it for the first time?
It would have to be a VR headset. I’ve tried a few brands and each time I’ve been amazed. Virtual reality is in its infancy yet can already provide such immersive experiences. I’m a tech nerd, so I’m excited by everything in the world of virtual and augmented reality.
Also Latch’s access control system (disclaimer: I’ve been involved in the development of it). It’s an incredible product from start to finish. But what’s wowing to me is seeing how everything comes together. From an idea, to bringing in the right people with the right skills, to prototyping and perfecting, to building a business around it, and finally seeing the end result and success of it. Definitely wowing.
If you could invite anyone out for a coffee chat, who would it be?
Obi: Probably Elon Musk. I’m a huge fan of everything he’s accomplished and has ambitions to. I’m sure the meeting would consist of overwhelming technical explanations but I’d love every second of it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to meet the guy they used as inspiration for Ironman.
Kush: Donald Trump. So I could spill my coffee on him. Or Snoop Dogg. He just seems like a really cool guy who’s built up a lot of success from nothing.
Three skills you believe make a good leader?
Obi: As talented as any individual is, there is always strength in numbers. The ability to identify your shortcomings and find those to compliment your skills are key to leadership. A great leader is able to share his vision and compel others to follow him into the unknown. Task distinction and role responsibility are important to leading a successful team. Everyone must understand what’s expected of them and be held accountable. Lastly, making swift decisions when faced with uncertainty is the hallmark of any good leader. Many times as an entrepreneur you’ll have to make decisions with unknown outcomes that are time sensitive. You’re not afforded the opportunity to research and build context, but expected to make the right decision. In these situations, I find it best to be decisive and treat it as a learning experience.
Kush: Focus, awareness, and humility. Leaders need to have a sharp focus on the vision and an awareness of the bigger picture. A well-focused plan is vital for success—a plan that is aware of all factors that may come into play. In addition, being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each individual (including themselves) and building a team that’s capable of accomplishing the tasks needed is essential. Lastly, and most importantly I believe, is humility. The best leader is one that is a part of the team, and not above the team. A great leader should be working with the team and not having the team work for them.