Shortcut app re-shapes the haircut, offering barbers/stylists on-demand, anywhere

Thu. September 28, 2017 1:57 PM by Ross Forman

shortcut app re-shapes the haircut

photo credit // shortcut

Shortcut app launches in Los Angeles, Miami and, most recently, Chicago

Irv Slobodskaya often had difficulty getting to the barbershop due to his long work-hours, and didn't find any online booking/reservation systems for barbers near him in New York City. And a last-minute cut was nearly impossible at any of the five barbers he frequented.

His problem led to his profession.

Slobodskaya is one of three co-founders – with Will Newton, 28, and John Meurer, 23 – of the app Shortcut, which launched in New York City in January 2016, and has since expanded to Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and, most recently, Chicago.

"The first app was literally 'push for a haircut,' so consumers had no insight into who would be cutting their hair and scheduling appointments was a more manual process on our side," Slobodskaya said. "We've really honed in on improving the tech and creating a product that's simple and intuitive for consumers and barbers alike. Users have full transparency into the available barbers and stylists. Customers can book based on the price, the photo gallery, availability, or past reviews. Users can book up to a week in advance, pay with all major credit cards, plus Apple Pay and more."

Think Uber for your hair-care needs.

Get the style by the sea.

Or maybe a little trim on the 10th floor of an apartment building.

Almost anywhere, anytime. After all, Shortcut has already led to cuts at the beach, on rooftops, on the street, even on a half-pipe.

After downloading the app, users enter some basic information about themselves (name, email, phone number). They then have the ability to choose the grooming pro, service(s) and day/time they want to reserve. After making an appointment, users receive a confirmation text and email. Then, the barber arrives at the specified time with all the tools needed for a house-call haircut – even with a drop-cloth to ensure the area stays tidy.

The barbers/stylists available via Shortcut are passionate about their craft and striving to drive greater earning power for themselves and convenience for their clients, Slobodskaya said. "We look for individuals with exceptional technical prowess to match strong interpersonal skills. And each grooming pro we work with has been carefully vetted and trained."

Only seven percent of those applying-barbers/stylists will make the cut to work for Shortcut, Slobodskaya said.

About 30 percent of appointments occur at hours when barbershops aren't normally available, and about 10 percent of their customers have ordered haircuts in at least two cities.

So why expand into Chicago?

Because Chicago is the cultural hub of the Midwest, "so it was important for us to be here," Slobodskaya said. "Beyond that, we've had tremendous interest from consumers and barbers alike in the market, and wanted to give everyone in the Windy City an easier way to get a haircut."

Slobodskaya said the Shortcut app has led to haircuts for travelers, prior to last-minute dates, before job interviews, and more. "We've even had a few instances of helping kids through the classic gum-in-the-hair incident," he said. "The moments when we've helped people who have been physically unable to get to the barbershop are the ones that really stand out for me. Those, and seeing personal/professional heroes of mine use the app have been most memorable for me."

Slobodskaya said most of the Shortcut users are men, aged 25 to 44. They're predominantly college-educated, with an above-average household income, and almost always time-sensitive people. The app caters to a lot of athletes, entertainers, artists, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and business owners.

Shortcut barbers and stylists set their own price-point, though most are in the $35 to $150 range across all markets.

"We currently offer a barber cut, stylist cut, long cut and beard trim," Slobodskaya said. "The distinction between the barber and stylist cut can be boiled down to, the brick and mortar establishment you'd go to for a haircut. Barbershops translate to barber cuts, salons translate to stylist cuts. Long hair for hair falling below the shoulders. More services will be coming soon."

Slobodskaya said their short-term goal is to make Shortcut the single largest network of barbers and stylists. "While doing that, we want to help barbers and stylists run their own virtual barbershop and earn what they deserve," he said. "For consumers, we want to change human behavior in a widespread way and truly become the go-to platform for all things grooming."

Slobodskaya added, "If you ask most guys, they'll tell you that the current (hair-cutting) process isn't ideal. Booking can be a pain, waits can be long, traveling to and from the barbershop takes time and more often than not, the shop closes by 7 p.m. With Shortcut, you don't have to leave work early, show up late or sacrifice your weekend just to get into the shop. Our barbers and stylists work around your schedule, not the other way around. Also, showering right after you get a haircut is highly underrated."

Slobodskaya said many of their customers and barbers/stylists are part of the LGBT community. "This not only helps provide an inclusive and comfortable environment for anyone engaging with Shortcut, but also gives confidence to those considering Shortcut that they can be who they are and will be treated with respect and dignity," he said. "We take a lot of pride in providing such an experience for customers and barbers alike."

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