The Black-owned barbershop app Squire, founded by Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant, is rising like a Phoenix in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That doesn’t mean the duo hasn’t experienced its effects firsthand.
In March when barbershops were forced to close, LaRon said “everything went to zero.” Now the company has made a stunning comeback, increasing its valuation from $85 million in June to $250 million after recent investments.
Launched in 2016, Squire is a backend management tool that gives barbers the resources to manage operations by scheduling appointments, offering loyalty programs, a virtual waiting room and cashless, contactless payments – the latter of which is very important in the midst of this pandemic.
“We just took off like a lightning bolt,” Salvant told TechCrunch. His words are sufficient in describing how the company raised $60 million in funding during its recent third round. The funding is made up of $45 million in equity capital and $15 million in debt financing, according to TechCrunch.
Initially, Squire raised $8 million in 2018 and $34 million in March before the forced cvid-19 closures of its customer base. With a 100-member staff and company expenses, LaRon and Salvant said they had to use their existing capital to maintain operations.
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The $15 million in debt financing will be used to implement a banking-as-a-service feature to help barbers who are usually overlooked or rejected by traditional banking institutions.
“This market is underserved by traditional financial institutions,” Salvant said. “And we think there’s opportunities to help these owners with financial tools.”
Currently live in 45 cities, Squire paid it forward earlier during the pandemic. They waived all subscription fees and started helpbarbershops.com, which allowed patrons to purchase gift cards to shops.
Knowing the significance the barbershop plays in the Black community, LaRon said their work with Squire has opened their eyes to how transcendent the barber shop experience is.
“We learned it resonated with men from all walks of life, all races and ethnicities and was really kind of a universal experience. So we saw an opportunity for a tech company,” LaRon said.
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