“Survival. That’s been the focus for our customers,” said Dave Salvant, co-founder of Squire, a platform for independent barbershops to grow their businesses—built on Amazon Web Services (AWS)—that’s now helping many of them stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Salvant, and Squire co-founder Songe LaRon, supporting their community and customers has been the goal ever since they came up with the idea to make getting a haircut less of a "pain in the butt." Going further than many other would-be entrepreneurs, LaRon and Salvant set up and operated a temporary barber shop to better understand their future customers' needs.
"Getting into the weeds" like this, as Salvant puts it, allowed them to see how many archaic systems barbershops had to manage—convincing them of the value in building a single, easy-to-use platform to help small businesses take control of their operations and maximize revenue.
It's this desire to make life easier for their customers that's driven Salvant and LaRon to go above and beyond to make Squire as useful as possible over the past few months. In addition to freezing subscription fees for its growing user base of more than 3,000 businesses, Squire has rapidly launched a range of new features to ensure barbershops can stay running during the pandemic, while following guidelines and best practices for stopping the spread of the virus.
New features include a virtual waiting room function that provides customers with real-time notifications when the barber is ready to see them, so customers don’t need to wait in person, and COVID-19 "waiver forms"—digital questionnaires to assess people for COVID-19 symptoms, which customers fill out in advance of entering the barbershop.
Squire's innate connection with its customer base, together with the power of AWS technology, has enabled it to "execute and innovate really quickly on the product," and ensured strong demand for the service.
While three quarters of Squire's users are in the U.S., the team is building a strong presence in the UK and Canada, and they’re focused on expanding to Australia next.
Amid the ongoing pandemic, Squire is assessing ways to support customers through this difficult time.
"Right now, for a lot of small barbershop owners, it’s a question of how to put food on the table," said Salvant. "We’re here to help them get through this, to grow, and adapt."