Summary List Placement
In 2014 when longtime friends Dave Salvant and Songe LaRon starting thinking about building a business together, they kept coming back to one enterprise that meant a lot to them both: barbershops.
The pair reminisced about visiting barbershops nearly every week of their lives and observed that while their hairstyles may have changed over the years, barbershop’s operations hadn’t: Customers typically called for an appointment and paid in cash.
“There were a lot of pain points for professionals and we figured there was a real opportunity that no other tech companies were addressing,” Salvant said. In 2015, the cofounders launched Squire, a platform that handles bookings, payment, analytics, and other business services, for barbershops.
When the pandemic hit, the New York City-based company waived subscription fees and started offering gift card services so customers could still support their local barbers — the business sold about $30,000 in gift cards, the cofounders said.
“I think we fostered a lot of goodwill for Squire and that helped increase our sales and demand,” Salvant said. Squire grew 400% last year and of the 150 current employees, about 80% were hired during the pandemic to facilitate the company’s growth.
In December, Squire raised $59 million in a Series C, led by Iconiq Capital, bringing its valuation to $250 million. So far, the company has raised $105 million in total funding.
Salvant and LaRon shared Squire’s pitch deck and explained how they organized the presentation, including how they responded to the pandemic. Sensitive information has been redacted.
The first three slides set up the problem and how Squire solves it
Salvant and LaRon based the first several slides of their deck on the Y Combinator layout, which encourages entrepreneurs to state the problem they’re trying to solve. In Squire’s case, the cofounders saw that most barbershops hadn’t modernized their business management systems.
“The barbershop is something we went to weekly and the process hadn’t changed since we were children,” said Salvant, adding that they had to call for an appointment and pay in cash. “Meanwhile all these other services, like Uber and OpenTable, were popping up and becoming part of daily life.”
Next, explain how your solution works
Squire sought to improve the process by creating a one-stop service for barbershops and men’s salons. Their startup provides customer relationship management, point-of-sale, analytics, booking, payment and discovery — eliminating the need for multiple apps that perform each of those services.
“Squire replaces the multiple softwares that shops often use,” said LaRon, noting that the startup sells both hardware and software. “We thought this was a cool and easy way to show that visually.”
Lastly, the startup offers a white label app for customers. Barbershops can design their app, name it, and put it in the app store while Squire powers it behind the scenes.
Then, introduce your team
While many pitch decks include slides about the founders or initial team, LaRon and Salvant added something more: They included their cover of BarberEVO Magazine, a 4-year-old publication devoted to the barbering movement and culture.
“It demonstrated that we’re here to stay and that we have significant weight in the industry,” Salvant said. Not every investor recognized the publication, but LaRon and Salvant believed it showed their connection to the community.
What’s more, they added details about their education, prior jobs, and participation in Y Combinator to highlight their experience and qualifications. Entrepreneurs should use this space to brag about accomplishments and show investors why they’re the well-positioned to grow their startup.
Don’t ignore the pandemic
Since LaRon and Salvant closed their funding round in December, they couldn’t ignore the pandemic’s effect on their business. To show investors how they were weathering the crisis, the cofounders touted their company’s growth between August 2019 and July 2020.
The first chart measures new shops acquired and the second shows new annual recurring revenue. The duo didn’t shy away from the dips they saw in March and April, when COVID-19 reached the US, but they also showed how business skyrocketed as barbershops adapted. That growth is what investors want to see, the cofounders said.
A second slide shows how they both supported customers and created tools in response to the pandemic. For instance, they sold gift cards as another means of supporting barbershops and created virtual waiting rooms so clients wouldn’t crowd inside a salon.
“We acted quickly and aggressively to help our customers,” LaRon said. “That goodwill reverberated and led us to acquire more shops.”
Always highlight your progress and growth
While the numbers are redacted, the cofounders wanted to show investors how their business has grown. They did this by focusing on the net retention of shops using Squire and monthly average revenue per unit — factors that show the company’s strength in the market.
“It’s all about the numbers at this stage,” Salvant said. “You really need to have numbers to prove your thesis and the trajectory you’re on.”
Lastly, show your edge in the market
Squire doesn’t want to give their competitors’ any honorable mentions, so they redacted their names, the cofounders said. This slide is meant to show investors that while other companies offer similar services, none are positioned to be a one-stop solution like Squire.
That leverage allows them to edge out other companies, like Square, that offer just one of their services, Salvant said. Entrepreneurs should consider how they can tout their stance in the market when facing giants like Square.