Technology is changing the way people think and do things. It's through it that one entrepreneur builds a mobile technology platform, theCut, that powers the barbershop industry. In just 18 months his platform has grown to more than 70,000 users and booked more than 300,000 appointments. He believes in technology's ability to enact change and level the economic playing field.
We had a chance to interview Obi and asked about his story, how he started his business and the future of theCut.
Tell us your story. Why did you start your business?
After I graduated from JMU, I interned as a data analyst for an LA startup. Shortly there after, I was unable to find the job I wanted in economics so I took the freetime to learn how to code. I got a job as a software developer at Wells Fargo, and a few months later moved to Charlotte, NC. One month goes by and I still havent had my haircut because I couldn’t find a barber I trusted. As a black man today, 4 weeks is entirely too long to go without a fresh cut. I was able to eventually find a barber who I felt comfortable with, however each visit could leave me waiting 2 or 3 hours if no appointment was booked. Now these are problems that have persisted throughout the industry over the years, but now that I had developed the technical skills necessary I saw an opportunity to bring change to an antiquated industry.
How did you come up with your business name?
The business name just made sense. theCut is simple, and clearly tells you we have something to do with haircuts. It kinda just came to me, and we ran with it.
Tell us about your products and services. How do you help clients?
We’ve built a mobile technology platform modernizing the barbershop experience. Our mobile app lets clients book appointments with their baber 24/7 at their own convenience. Clients also have the ability to pay and tip their barber within the app, creating an Uber like experience. Barbers can then manage all their appointments and clients in one place. Giving them more control over their business, while also increasing their visibility and building their build.
What makes you unique? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
Barbers choose us over the competition because we continue to deliver a more tailored and seamless experience. Many of our competitors cater to the entire female dominated space often leaving barbers to feel underserved and overlooked. Our product and branding is geared specifically towards the barbershop industry, which drives more male clients to our platform. We’ve also built mobile-first experiences on both iOS and Android giving barbers a beautiful and simple design which perform faster and more reliably than our competition.
Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?
In the next 3-5 we see our self as the go to platform for all things men’s grooming and style. Our goal is to be a platform where clients can discover new styles, find a talented barber, and buy the products necessary to maintain their style. As the platform evolves from purely booking to incorporating a grooming products marketplace we see incredibly opportunity to reduce friction in the men’s grooming process, making it easier to look and feel confident.
Any advice you would give to entrepreneurs and business owners?
Solve a problem versus creating a product. If you solve a problem customers seek you out. If you meet their needs, their more than likely to pay you for it. If you have to sell someone on why they should be interested in your product, that’s one additional barrier to cross.
What is your favorite business quote and why?
“In a world full of pessimists, dare to be an optimist” —
It’s not quite a business quote, however I’ve found it useful while launching this new venture. Innovation and outside the box thinking is almost always initially mocked and rejected. It’s hard for people to imagine things that break away or conflict with their understanding of the world. Which often means opportunities are created for those who can discover ways to effectively introduce new ideas. Whether it be operating with unique business models or serving overlooked demographics, the ability to solve problems or create solutions that others cannot is itself a competitive advantage.
What makes the DMV (Washington D.C., Maryland & Virginia area) a great place to be an entrepreneur or business owner?
The diversity of people and thought is abundant throughout the DMV. The large number of various immigrants in the tri-state area lends itself to entrepreneurship. People from all over the world live here, sharing their experiences. It becomes easy to identify gaps and opportunities across people as a whole and the variety in perspectives lends itself to some incredibly creative ideas.
Anything else additional you want to tell our readers?
Check out the app, it’s free to download. Tell your barber, tell your friends, tell anyone really. Follow us on IG @thecutapp to stay up to date on what's new. You can also subscribe to our Youtube channel to watch some really dope videos.