Voice: The amount of startups founded by young entrepreneurs under the age of 30 is rapidly on the rise. This week we chat with Liam Li, a 25-year-old Hongkonger who runs a popular mobile barbershop, “HAIR Now”. Good morning, Liam. Could you tell us about your business, and how did it all begin?
Liam: I decided to start my business soon after graduating from barber school. Before that, I worked in a unisex salon for a couple of years. Hairstyling has always been a passion of mine. A flattering hair cut not only makes us look good, it has a positive effect on our self-esteem too. With “HAIR Now”, I want to make it easy and convenient for all men to have a hairstyle that fits them best.
Voice: I agree. But not everyone can afford the time for a haircut every month.
Liam: What if a barber comes to you instead? “HAIR Now” is like Deliveroo, but instead of delivering food, we deliver haircuts!
Voice: That’s a very interesting concept! How does it work?
Liam: A customer books an appointment through our app, and one of our three vans will be on their way to their nearest parking lot. Each van is fitted out like a simple barbershop and we provide haircut services only. That means each session is usually between 15 and 20 minutes. We also use a new comb for every customer, and it is given to them after use. This ensures a high standard of hygiene.
Voice: Wow! And how did you come up with the idea of using an app, and did you face any problems setting up the company?
Liam: I signed up for a course on digital business transformation during my free time, and decided what would be the model for my mobile salon. I then roped in the help of my secondary school friend, who is an app designer. I was very close to giving up at one point because I didn’t have the capital to build the app, and was unable to get a loan from the bank. Luckily, my sister suggested I take part in a Youth Entrepreneurship Competition. I ended up winning first prize and kick-started the company with the prize money.
Voice: That’s impressive! Did it take long to get the business set up?
Liam: Not at all. I bought a van and fitted it up as a mini barbershop. Family and friends help to spread the word, and pretty soon, we were getting about a thousand bookings every month. Currently, we have six professional stylists, myself included, and we can easily get to anywhere within Hong Kong Island in 30 minutes.
Voice: Is parking an issue?
Liam: Parking is usually free at residential estates. Sometimes we have to pay parking fees, but this can’t be avoided. The fees can come up to quite a big amount when we have customers who require us to travel to central business districts. To get around this, we try and find spots where we can park for free for a longer period of time.
Voice: How about traffic?
Liam: It can be a problem sometimes, but the company has been doing very well and I’m looking into getting more vans to minimise travelling across different districts and the customers’ waiting time.
Voice: That would be great. I’m sure your customers will appreciate it. Well Liam, it’s been great chatting to you. I wish you all the success with HAIR Now.
Liam: Thank you. It’s been great talking to you too.