There are just some times in life where you just have to go to the salon. Whether you forgot about a big dinner, you need a change of pace, or even if there is no reason, the salon should never be more than a few clicks away. At Vive they are making this a reality. Vive has created the concierge service for hair salons that based on location and price range among others, finds the perfect place specific to you. With the ability to preorder visits in advanced you’ll never be too far from that perfect hair.
Former Wall Street Analyst Alanna Gregory gives us the long and short on the vivacious company and how her waiting list has topped over 14,000 customers.
Tell us about the product or service.
Vive is a beauty concierge service that allows users to book blowout appointments (at the last-minute or up to a week in advance) at top-rated hair salons in their city, for a flat monthly fee.
How is it different?
Vive uses a proprietary salon routing and recommendation system based on a suite of variables, including ratings and reviews by customers, to ensure that users can find appointments quickly and are sent to the salons that suit them best. Just as Netflix provides recommendations of what to watch, Vive uses its data to learn about each user’s preferences to continuously improve her experience.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
In the US, hair and nail salon services are a $46 billion industry. Hair styling services, such as blowouts, represent 13% of all hair and nail salons’ revenue – which amounts to a market of more than $6 billion just ripe for innovation.
What is the business model?
Vive is a subscription-based business model. For a flat monthly fee, users choose whether they want to be able to book 2 blowouts per month, 4 blowouts per month, or an unlimited amount. During our beta testing in NYC this past year, we learned that giving women access to unlimited blowouts and an easy way to book them was truly behavior-changing, with over 50% of Vive blowouts booked within 24 hours of appointment time and 86% of Vive users booking at least one blowout every week.
What inspired the business?
My long hours working as a research analyst on Wall Street precluded me from routine trips to the salon. I realized that, even if I could find the time to dash out for a hair touchup before an important meeting or event, there was no easy way to search the immediate availability of hair salons nearby. It was just too time-consuming and, frankly, felt a little unprofessional, to be calling around salons from my desk. I knew there had to be a better way, and Vive was born.
How has your previous Wall Street experience influenced how you have built your startup?
Working on Wall Street taught me to take a qualitative approach to business, while using data to build sustainable pricing and economics. Vive is solving more than just a simple booking problem: we take into account all of the variables associated with a pleasant beauty experience, like location and hair preferences, and factor them into an algorithm that will route the user to her best consumer experience. We believe that in order to build a great product, we need to build a product that will last for a long time and evolve with our customers’ needs.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We are focusing on three things for the next six months: hitting our customer retention benchmarks, beginning to explore add-on services, and continuing our expansion into additional cities.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Everything takes longer than you think it will! On a more serious note, I would say have a vision and a mission, and stay true to that. Everything should emanate from that from who you hire, down to the metrics you track.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, the founders of SoulCycle. I am continually inspired by how they have built an amazing consumer-focused brand that is deeply rooted in the customer experience, and I admire how they’ve kept true to their brand without sacrificing on their brand promise. Additionally, they’ve been very innovative in cultivating talent and building a community around their instructors. I should admit that I do not consider myself a spinner and I have only been a handful of times, but I am a total SoulCycle brand enthusiast!
Why did you launch in New York?
Launching in New York was a no-brainer: not only is it one of the top beauty markets in the United States, but I’m also a proud native New Yorker with a familiarity of, and love for, the city.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Tough question! It’s a tie between The Butcher’s Daughter (best for a simple lunch or brunch) and Café Select.