Launching a Hair and Beauty Tech Startup within a Global Pandemic

The Hair and Beauty industry (H&B) has long been lagging behind other sectors regarding technology and innovation. While counterparts in the lifestyle and leisure industries were employing tech-powered solutions to address their challenges, the H&B sector stayed dangerously behind, even using marketplaces such as GumTree to drive business growth and earnings potential. The changes, challenges and restrictions of the pandemic really highlighted just how far behind the H&B sector was, and the lack of progressive thinking consequently left the industry-wide open to risk – and none are more so at risk than the professionals themselves. Many were redundant, and the options to capitalise on the demand when restrictions were lifted were few and far between. Being connected personally to several professionals who were feeling the struggle, Murat Feimoglu and Omer Ukuser quickly realised there was no major digitised platform for H&B professionals to take control of their own careers and provide the foundation for professionals to work flexibly both in terms of hours and location. That’s where HairFare comes in. They felt the need to fill this void and create a shared market approach to an £8billion sector, allowing professionals to develop their careers whilst enabling business owners to secure earnings and workers upfront in a tough market. The concept for HairFare had existed pre-pandemic, but the desperate situation of the industry once the pandemic hit accelerated the launch. The pandemic was the right time to bring possibilities and options to professionals and businesses who had been hit hard.

Affirming Our Decision

The idea initially came about when Murat Feimoglu’s now business partner, Omer Ukuser’s close barber friend, was made redundant and was looking for different places to rent a chair and serve his clients. When he explained that the process was walking around high streets and asking shop owners whether they had any spare chairs for rent, it was a no-brainer to them that this system could be made much more efficient and convenient for both professionals looking to rent chairs and shop owners looking for professionals to rent to. Feimoglu and Ukuser immediately undertook market research to identify whether a platform offered what they had in mind. It came as a bit of a  shock that, actually, there was no B2B matchmaking platform specialised for the H&B industry. They decided to build the platform and speak to as many professionals and business owners in the industry as possible to gauge interest and understand features they would want to incorporate into the system. Through this constant communication with HairFare’s potential user base, whether it be cold calling, face to face meetings or surveys/questionnaires, they were able to create the UK’s first specialised shared platform for rental chairs connecting barbers, hairdressers, make-up artists and any other beauty professionals to rental spaces across the country, allowing professionals to work in their preferred locations and provide business owners with a guaranteed income. HairFare initially launched in London with a sample of 5 hosts who had pre-registered to the platform. However, once they gave constructive feedback on the platform, it developed and expanded throughout the capital and has since expanded to four other cities in the country.

It’s Time for the Hair and Beauty Industry to Be Proactive

As seen during the pandemic, the H&B industry is yet to embrace technological advancements and the new working practices associated with these advancements. This has led to a complete standstill in an industry that has been one of the hardest hit by Covid-19. However, both business owners and professionals will need to capitalise on the demand for their services once restrictions are lifted. HairFare offers them the opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive. From a business owner’s standpoint, much of their capital has been diminished. By renting out their chairs to freelancers, they have a secure source of income and workers without paying the associated costs (wages, NI, etc.). From a professional’s perspective, this will be an ideal time to grow their network and client base with the opportunity to work flexibly for themselves in a variety of locations to sustain their income in the future. Through HairFare’s network on the ground, there is more and more frequent news that business owners are struggling to find staff, while on the other hand, professionals are tired of being tied down to a single spot and want to build their own name. HairFare allows them to address these growth issues and aspirations directly.

Future Aspiration

Since launching, HairFare has grown over 700% in terms of hosts exceeding our projections during the pandemic, hoping to keep growing exponentially once lockdown restrictions are loosened. The short term aspirations include continuing this growth until it has a large pool of hosts and professionals across the country. Over the next year, the platform aims to support this growth by introducing the HairFare Academy. Through this Academy, HairFare hopes to train aspiring H&B professionals and help them build their name and client base through the platform. The main goal is to transform the H&B industry by creating a marketplace platform that transforms businesses and freelancers into self-sustainable, with HairFare leading the way for innovation in a technologically stagnant industry. By Murat Feimoglu – HairFare Co-Founder. HairFare is a professional-to-host matchmaking platform for the hair and beauty industry, designed to open up more flexible working options and greater earning potential to Hair and Beauty professionals across the UK.  The HairFare platform offers a convenient and reliable way for freelancing hair and beauty professionals to connect to premises around the country to serve their clients efficiently.