“I must know the name of this company so I can wire them all of my money,” tweeted Megan Quinn, a venture partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins. “I’m QUITE interested,” replied Julie Fredrickson, founder of the cosmetics startup Stowaway.
— megan quinn (@msquinn) February 27, 2015
@msquinn I heard tell of this company from a little birdie in the Stowaway family and I’m QUITE interested
— Julie Fredrickson (@AlmostMedia) February 28, 2015
The company’s premise is smart: For $99 a month, Vive members get unlimited blow-outs—a hair blow-drying service—at a variety of salons in their city. The startup launches today in New York.
To understand why this is a great deal consider the price from competitors: A blow-out from Drybar costs $40.
Drybar has led the trend of women getting their hair styled outside of their regular haircuts. Formed in 2008, the blow-out-only salon chain now has 3000 employees and $50 million in revenue. The company also offers a membership plan which costs $75 a month for two blow-outs and 10% off products.
Vive brings the blow-out, previously a special occasion splurge for most women, to the level of a regular purchase. At $99 a month, customers can afford to get a blow-out once a week.
Likewise, Vive seeks to bring more blow-dry-only customers to regular salons, which often don’t interact with customers between haircuts. Vive helps salons fill excess capacity, helps junior stylists build their books, increases foot traffic, which might help salons sell more products, or introduce new clients and new products like conditioning treatments.
Here’s how it works: Customers go to Vive’s website, and name the time and area (a zip code or specific part of town) they’d like to get a blow-out. Vive queries its approximately 75 salon partners and returns with an appointment within 15 minutes. Customers aren’t allowed to select which salon they get, but Vive has carefully vetted its partner salons for levels of quality and customer service. Customers can book anywhere from 30 minutes to a week in advance.
The question is whether the salons and Vive can make money on this plan. If all of Vive’s customers get 10 blow-outs a week, it’s not sustainable for the salon-owners or for Vive.
CEO and founder Alanna Gregory, a former equities analyst at Barclays Capital, is mum on how frequently Vive’s alpha testers have used the service until she gets more data. The costs are still a work in progress. “We view each salon as a partner so we work to find [a price] that’s beneficial for everyone,” Gregory says.
I’m calling Vive “the Netflix of blow-outs,” but a more accurate, but more obscure, comparison might be the “Classpass for blow-outs.” Classpass is a hot New York-based startup which allows members to access unlimited fitness classes from a large pool of studios for a fixed monthly fee. Now in 30 cities, the company recently raised $40 million in Series B venture funding.
Gregory says Vive is in the process of closing its first round of funding.
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