Bunny Studio Podcast – Barbershop Sublet Transcription
Kristen: [00:00:00] Bunny studio.
Symbol: [00:00:05] So especially like black barbershops is where brothers go and they cut it up with each other, whatever, you know, it’s a lot of love. They come in the barbershop, you know, you run into all walks of life there because everybody needs a haircut. Right. It’s nothing like going to a barbershop and knowing everybody that’s in there and you can send that barbershop you’re home and that’s, it it’s should be like another home for me, honestly.
Kristen: [00:00:27] On this episode, we’re asking ourselves this big question about digital places. Why aren’t the digital marketplaces for getting a photographer, a mechanic, or a hairdresser? As big as the ones for getting a ride share or a burger delivered to your house. Speaking of hair specialists, we talked to one, his name’s Rick, the barber.
We asked him about the art of cutting hair in his community and why it’s hard to put his service on an app. A huge part of Rick’s business is his Instagram page. So we’re also talking about why that is and why in the future social media networks and digital marketplaces might just become the, the same thing.
Hey, I’m Kristen de Mercurio. Lately so much of our work has gone online. So I’ve been thinking about freelancing marketplaces and the future of work. That’s what our new show Geek Economy will help you understand. We’ll also show you how the gig economy moving forward is going to change our lives and our culture.
I would say, I know a thing or two about this industry. I’m a professional actress, singer voiceover artist, and I’ve been in my fair share of podcasts as an actress. I’ve had all kinds of survival jobs I’ve worked for Task Rabbit, Postmates, events staffing and temp agencies, basically in my world getting the next gig is kind of the name of the game.
Geek Economy is brought to you by bunny studio trusted by more than 50,000 companies. Every year, bunny studio helps businesses scale. Their creative needs with a vetted crowd of freelancers.
When it comes to digital marketplaces, Uber and Airbnb have completely changed the game, but once you get an Uber you’re not going to see that driver again, that person drove you from point a to point B and that’s it. It’s a short-term relationship. That’s why a few people in Silicon Valley have wondered to themselves. What about those more complicated relationships in your life between you and your handyman, your accountant, or your barber people who you’ll want to see again, and whose work has a bigger impact on your life?
Most people would agree that Uber and Airbnb are the two biggest companies in the sharing economy slash two-sided marketplace industry. They are currently valued at 84 billion us dollars. Did you know, there’s an industry that most people use regularly and it’s worth more money than these two giant tech companies combined.
It isn’t a digital marketplace and it’s not traditionally known to use technology. The industry is hair.
Whether it’s too much or not enough here, products and services based around them are booming. In 2018, the haircare industry was worth around 88 billion us dollars, 88 billion. It is predicted to hit 112 billion by 2026.
Now let’s look at a barber specifically for some people. The experience of getting your hair cut is similar to getting an Uber. It doesn’t matter who does it. You just jump in the seat, make minimal small talk, and then 20 minutes and $15 later you’re done. But for black and Latin communities around the USA.
Getting your hair cut means something else entirely. It’s a complicated thing, and wouldn’t be easy to justify that experience in an app.
Andia: [00:04:00] The barbershop, in my estimation, prior to being a regular barber customer was it’s a focal point for the community. Whatever that community is however big or small people gathered to get their hair done, but they also gathered for information dissemination.
They gathered to check in with folks mental health, financial health. In some ways you will talk about all kinds of things, sports, you know, news and events, women, whatever.
Kristen: [00:04:23] That’s under a Winslow. She calls herself an
Andia: [00:04:26] adventurer. But in the past, I would call myself an athlete and activist and artist and actor, because there were so many things that I never wanted to limit myself by it, definition by a noun.
You know, I got lots of nouns
Kristen: [00:04:39] on DIA definition of someone who has thrived well in the gig economy, being a true generalist because she used to have longer hair. She didn’t need to go to the barbershop every week, but eventually when she cut her hair short, she discovered the importance of the barbershop in her culture.
Andia: [00:04:55] So when I first came to the barbershop, I felt like I was intruding in someone else’s space, even though I did grow up around a lot of men. And I love that companies I’ve done in my life, I’ve had no problem being around men. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was, I felt like I was intruding on there.
Sacred space. I learned that that was not true. Conversations do get altered when you’re there, but if you go often enough, you become part of the family part of the community, and it’s just normal. So barbershops just like salons are a place where people come to air grievances to reclaim identity, to, I guess, fashion new narratives for themselves.
Once they step out. But at the end of the day, when I walk out of the barbershop and looking extra clean, I feel a certain way. I feel like proud. I feel empowered and
Kristen: [00:05:42] I love it something special about the barbershop in black and Latin cultures. We talked to cymbal about it. He’s a musician and songwriter based in silver spring, Maryland, which is not too far outside of Washington, DC
Symbol: for the culture, just real big, you know, because there weren’t many places that we can congregate, you know, as black men, without being harassed.
And so the barbershops is one of those places that we were actually
Music: [00:06:04] able to do
Kristen: [00:06:05] that. The barbershop, doesn’t just have a cultural place in black culture, but a historical one. And so it’s also easy to understand that over the years, the work barbers do in the community is increasingly complicated.
There’s hard parts, Shape-ups lineups, sponge twists, twisted curls waves. And of course the fade. Here’s Omar Morrissey. He’s a billboard charting house producer and DJ from the Bronx, New York city. I think the Barbara’s that can master doing a perfect fade. That’s an art creating the right fade is a freaking art of work because I’ve been to so many, Barbara’s still trying to look for the right fade.
And I think black barbers might’ve mastered that, but I’m like, yo, you guys figured out the
Music: [00:06:50] fade.
Kristen: [00:06:52] For a lot of black and Latin men and women, a barber isn’t just a worker like a cashier or an Uber driver. They’re a craft person, an artist in startup jargon, they’re complex service providers. And in communities all across the U S some barbers have become something even bigger than that.
Celebrities. Here’s Rick he’s symbols, barber from just outside Washington, DC. He’s been cutting hair for more than a decade now. And with almost 17,000 followers on Instagram, he’s a big deal in the area.
Music: [00:07:25] I
Andia: [00:07:26] mean,
Rick (The Barber): [00:07:26] like I said earlier, your clients are your billboards. And that’s where most of my business comes in.
Cause you know, word of mouth or just people see my work out in public. I’ve had even a couple of weeks ago I had a client call me and he was standing with a barber. He said a barber stopped him in the mall. I was like, who the fuck? Cut your hair. He was like, that’s just sharp as haircut. He’s like, can I get your barber’s information?
And he like called me while you’re standing there with him. And the dude was like, bro, he was like, you do some really good work. I just added you on Instagram. Can you follow me back? I was like, yeah. I mean, I like seeing the support and like getting messages from clients and, you know, making people feel their best and looked at best.
You know, I like getting that type of gratification. That’s what makes me love to industry.
Kristen: [00:08:06] Let’s jump back to the big question from earlier. Why don’t you use an app to book a barber in the same way you use an app to book a car to the airport, find out after the break.
Music: [00:08:19] Hey,
Kristen: [00:08:20] if you’re liking what you hear and you have a minute, please subscribe, rate, or review on whatever app you’re using to listen. We are on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, Amazon, and more. This helps us get the word out to other people so they can learn a bit more about how important the gig economy is for everyone.
Thanks for listening. So why don’t people use an app to book a hairstylist in the same way you book a ride share? Well, one answer is that there are all kinds of apps to do exactly this. We talked to shorthand graph to find out why these apps haven’t taken off
Sjoerd: [00:08:54] yet. I often make the comparison of if you take the word shoe and the word art shoe art, and you say it really fast.
Shoe art is
Kristen: [00:09:02] the chief marketing officer at share tribe. There are company based in Helsinki that are like the WordPress or Shopify of marketplaces. Their platform provides all the software and infrastructure people need to make their own digital marketplace
Sjoerd: [00:09:16] paired with simple relationships like Uber, Airbnb service, marketplaces star, definitely on their way to reaching the same highs.
It has just taken them a little bit longer because those kinds of marketplaces are slightly different to the ones like we rent Airbnb because first of all, the total addressable market is a lot smaller, so they will never reach that insane
Kristen: [00:09:35] size. So simple marketplaces have products like house rental or ride sharing that everyone can use.
Whereas complex marketplaces are by their nature. More niche. For example, you might only get your hair cut every few months, but you might get a ride share every week. It’s a smaller market. Short also makes this really interesting point about the success of companies like Uber.
Sjoerd: [00:10:00] Airbnb and Uber are unique across any industry, right?
There are very little companies that have reached their size and their speed and their attention as well. And also Uber has never even made a profit. Right. So success is still quite relative. Like they lost close to 2 billion in the second quarter of this year. And you could say, Oh yeah, maybe that’s because of COVID.
But like last year, same quarter, they lost more than 5 billion. So success is kind of a relative term. Airbnb was doing a lot better previously. I think they were even close to making a profit at some point, but also right now, not that much. So at the same time, there are several really successful marketplaces that actually revolve around services.
So there’s Upwork, which is a marketplace for digital freelancers. And there’s a Fiverr, which is kind of like the same, but more of like a lower level. I think five or just turned last book here, like a profit or break even. And they have a market cap of like almost 4 billion. So I would say like, there are several unicorns in that space and there are, there’s some tech, for example, as well, a Rover that’s a doc walking one is basically a unicorn.
I think they had a close to 1 billion valuation in 2018
Kristen: [00:11:05] short says complex service marketplaces will take a lot longer to build. Because if you look at the supply side, they often deal with recruiting individual providers. It’s a lot more complex to get barbers or plumbers on your marketplace than Uber drivers.
What he’s saying is that while there are tons of people who have a spare room in their house, they want to rent out. Finding people to do. Complex services is hard.
Sjoerd: [00:11:30] There is like a demand side, which is the person buying, renting, or booking the service and then a supply side, a person selling or renting out or providing a service and every, and be an Uber.
They have a much larger potential supply side, which is like everyone with a house or a car could be an Uber driver or an Airbnb host while most surface marketplaces. They are quite niche. You need specialist of some kind. So that means that not everyone is a hairdresser for example, or can easily become one.
And that same apply side thing because you need these specialists also make a lot of these service marketplaces, quite difficult to scale them because you need to start really locally. Like we can’t believe if you think about the hairdresser, speaking
Kristen: [00:12:07] of hair professionals, let’s go back to Rick. The barber he’s at Phoenix salon suites in Laurel, Maryland USA.
He’s also a busy guy.
Music: [00:12:16] Your work
Rick (The Barber): [00:12:16] ethic is everything. So I mean, you can make as much money as you want. You like me personally, I just got a crazy work ethic. So the days I don’t have my son, I’m in the shop from 7:00 AM til nine, 10:00 PM at night. So
Sjoerd: [00:12:30] it’s a lot harder to onboard them. You would like, you would need to really go probably into each city and just go door to door and get them on there until you reach.
A really, really widely known brand name and then maybe automatically starts onboarding while at the house in a car. It’s a lot easier to do you just put your house on there. You just sign up with your car while if you list all the different services that you offer as a hairdresser or a beauty salon, that’s a lot more complicated.
Kristen: [00:12:54] The other thing that’s hard for marketplaces to sort out is the fact that barbers like Rick provide a complex service. Okay. Hair.
Rick (The Barber): [00:13:01] I do facials. I do thermal scalps, grubs beard presses. I’m more than just a traditional barber out for a lot of services that most barbers don’t. You
Sjoerd: [00:13:10] book a hairdresser, you know, do you want to have it boss?
Do you want to have a cot? Do you want a massage? Do you want to have it a color? It’s a lot more difficult than, Hey, I’m here now. I need an Uber. Or like, Hey, I’m booking one night in Barcelona. Like I think that sort of complexity of the transaction is probably also the reason why service marketplaces are just a couple of years behind in terms of getting
Kristen: [00:13:30] online.
So we asked Rick if he’s on any of these fancy new digital marketplaces and he isn’t. Instead, he uses a really simple app site called square appointments. There is usually a link right on his Instagram and people make a booking directly with him, but it’s not a marketplace it’s just for bookings.
That’s it. So when we asked him why he doesn’t use StyleSeat or really successful marketplace for barbers in the U S. This is what he
Music: [00:13:57] said.
Rick (The Barber): [00:13:58] Only thing about styles. He does. You got to well, or the app, you got to create an account and it’s a little bit better than what I’m using, because you can read reviews on barbers.
You can look at their portfolios and their pictures of their work. It’s nice, but I like the functionality of the square appointments. Cause once people click on my link, it just takes them directly to the site. They don’t have to download anything. Me personally, I don’t like all that. You know, you got to download this and then create an account just to schedule appointment.
Kristen: [00:14:24] And I think the most interesting thing about this is he saying, I don’t need some other app to be the source of business for me. I am the source of business. So why would I introduce all this friction into the process by making my customers sign up to someone else’s app? And the reason that that’s so interesting is that it gets to this key thing short is saying, which is that when a marketplace links two people up and they form a complex business relationship, a lot of the time they both ask themselves.
Why are we giving this marketplace a cut? And they leave
Sjoerd: [00:14:55] for any marketplace that has a recurring, and that’s kind of the golden egg for marketplace that you have this thing called, like repeat purchase ratio so that you get someone who uses your marketplace and then use it again. And again, and again, like Airbnb, for example, I think once, most people have tried the first Airbnb that’s their first choice.
Next time that they book something. If a booking happens all the time between the same demand side, same customer and the same provider, there is a risk of this thing called platform leakage or disintermediation. It’s one of the biggest fears of marketplace entrepreneurs, because if you know that the customer is paying the platform, let’s say a hundred dollars of which $10 every time disappears through the marketplace.
Why wouldn’t you agree with them to make the transaction happen off platform? And that you can also pocket that $10 or maybe split the difference. There’s lots of ways that marketplace are tied to do that. And a lot of it has. To do with scaring people from doing that. But the best way that we have seen when analyzing like hundreds of marketplaces, that the best way is to simply just provide enough failure within the platform to keep it in the platform.
So that can be very simple things like, for example, with Airbnb, that if you booked through Airbnb, there is the insurance. There is just. Escrow payment handling, meaning that the money won’t get released to the OST until you’ve actually stayed there. And then for the more complex marketplaces and that’s happening a lot, especially with the beauty services and other small provider markets is that the marketplace has provides a whole bunch of software too.
That helps them run their business. So that handles their bookings that does the marketing for them. Right? Like you can imagine that thing, like style does a really good job at SEO, so you can very easily find the. StyleSeat beauty people close to you. And so marketplaces should really try to offer as much value as they can.
Kristen: [00:16:39] makes marketplaces difficult. They need to constantly provide value to everyone involved. Otherwise they might wonder why they’re still there. But not all service market supply side vendors are evading the apps. Once they book a client, it seems Booksy who is a competitor to style seat is doing something right with undies, new barber.
Andia: [00:16:59] So I got bi-coastal arrangement for my haircuts in Brooklyn, it’s Marlin and in LA it’s Maurice. But when I came to Phoenix, Arizona quarantine, when my parents, I needed to get sharp because I had a live virtual event, I was hosting in may and I was looking rough. I wasn’t feeling my most confident. So I went on Booksy and I found dill and Phoenix, and he’s amazing and hooked it up.
And I was confident and well-spoken for my event. So I used books for the first time. He was only taking appointments that way. And, uh, usually I just text him or phone, but he’s like, no, let’s go through the app. We did. And it was a seamless experience. He had all the COVID precautions set up. He was very thorough and.
Safe. And I looked nice.
Kristen: [00:17:41] Let’s think back to earlier where Rick basically said, my Instagram is my main platform. Why would I send people to another app? I mean, when you think about it, Rick’s already on a digital marketplace. It’s called Instagram. He has thousands of followers on there. So it gets to this other really interesting thing that shored told us.
Think about it this way. If you’re booking a complex service, whether it’s a barber, a video editor or a painter, you don’t just want to press a button. You want to shop around, look at some pictures and videos. See what other people think and see who’s popular. And that’s just called a social network.
That’s why over the next 10 years, social networks are going to look a lot more like marketplaces and marketplaces are going to look a lot more like social networks. It’s this really interesting concept. Bigwig Silicon Valley types. Talk about called. Market networks. So
Sjoerd: [00:18:34] the term was coined by James career of NFX, which is a venture firm specializing in these network effects kind of businesses.
And he’s saying that marketing network, it’s basically a hybrid model combining the main elements of networks, such as social networks and then marketplaces, and then often with some sauce. Build in compared with traditional marketplaces, like for example, Uber and Airbnb, the center point of the market network is not a transaction it’s about, or like a longer-term project, which is ongoing.
It could be a wedding or a scientific research project around which multiple transactions occur with different individual providers. So. Let’s take the example of a wedding planner. So there is a market network called HoneyBook where wedding planners buy all the services that you need to plan a wedding.
And so you can imagine that they go first bouquet venue. So that happens through there. So part of the providers, our venue providers Sten day go for the music and they find a musician through the platform and they find a florist catering furniture, et cetera. And that’s really a market network where there is this ongoing project, like a wedding for which over the lifetime of this project, multiple transactions occur with these different individual providers.
And that’s different if you compare it to Airbnb where you just booked one night with one person and that’s it, that’s the end of the story. And then often to make it easier. Yeah. And more attractive for the service providers. They use a whole sauce workflow on top. So that could be, for example, just a availability calendar for if you have a venue so that you can very easily see when is it available?
So that getting a booking through dairies is very easy. You can imagine that if you are often called into the same project as another provider, so let’s say you have a venue for a wedding and you like to work with a certain florist because he comes on time and he has great looking things. And all of the guests are always very happy with that.
Do you get these relationships between the different providers that sort of really formed the network aspects there? Let’s
Kristen: [00:20:25] get back to our big question from the beginning of the episode, why aren’t complex service marketplaces as big as the big marketplace giants. Sure. Thinks that they already kind of are.
They just aren’t as big and flashy as those two company?
Sjoerd: [00:20:40] I think there is actually a loads of nice marketplaces that. Big typed as a service marketplace in industries that we just simply don’t know about because they’re just not sexy for depressed. Like no one cares that there is some company called scientists.com, which is a marketplace for outsourcing scientific research.
Well, who cares? Right. That doesn’t make headlines. And also most of them, they treat their employees really well. So there is no headlines about how a scientist researchers get exploited the same way that there is with like Uber drivers.
Kristen: [00:21:06] Basically short thinks that the future of marketplaces are a lot more complex than they were in the beginning.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t be as fruitful.
Sjoerd: [00:21:15] This lower barrier enables people all around the world to build these platforms. So there is, for example, in a couple of places, there are like local alternatives to Uber where former taxi drivers and other people who have just formed their own cooperative, invested some money and then build their own platform where they can set their own rules.
And set safety for their work environment and get paid a decent wage and those kinds of things. And I think that this decentralized small local marketplaces is really what will drive the future of this. So there is no reason why that should be one global marketplace for hairdressers, like never, ever.
Will you book a hairdresser that is on the other side of the planet, except maybe for a very, very small. A lead. So that’s really what we’re really excited about that we sort of take back to Sharon Cami and that, of course there is a place for some global players. Airbnb will probably always stay, but that more accessibility and sort of these democratisation of technology enables also these smaller players and local marketplaces to pop up and provide jobs for themselves and for their community.
Kristen: [00:22:17] Marketplaces are complex in the future. They’ll probably look more like Instagram than like eBay, but that’s not going to happen automatically. If they aren’t able to create connections between buyers and sellers. And to give them a rich, meaningful experience, service marketplaces are not going to blow up the same way Uber and Airbnb have, but as Schwartz says, Change is definitely happening.
We’ll just have to see how it goes.
Thanks for listening to geek economy. The show that helps you understand how the gig economy is going to change our lives. And our culture gig economy is brought to you by bunny studio trusted by more than 50,000 companies. Every year buddy’s studio helps businesses scale, their creative needs with a vetted crowd of freelancers.
Find out firstname.lastname@example.org. If you liked this episode, please share this to someone that would find this of interest. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review on whatever app you use to listen. This episode was produced in collaboration with bunny studio and pod paste in Sydney, Australia.
I’m your host, Kristin de Mercurio. We’ll catch you next
Music: [00:23:26] time.