April 4, 2018

#29 Could This Be the Next Airbnb?

#29 Could This Be the Next Airbnb?

Can Tye and Courtney Caldwell convince investors that their skills will transfer from the barbershop to the boardroom?

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When Tye and Courtney Caldwell were having trouble renting space in their salon, they thought: why isn't there an app for this? So they created one, ShearShare. But can they convince investors that their skills will transfer from the barbershop to the boardroom? 

Today's investors are Jillian Manus, Daniel Gulati, Phil Nadel, and Nicole Verkindt.


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I’m Josh Muccio and from Gimlet Media, this is The Pitch, where real entrepreneurs pitch to real investors.


Courtney: Good morning guys.


Phil: Welcome.


Courtney: Hi guys.


That’s Courtney and Tye Caldwell, and they’re here today to ask for a million dollars for ShearShare, a mobile app they say will do for salon owners what Airbnb did for homeowners.


Courtney: We’re literally transforming an entire industry, I mean this is a more than a hundred year old industry. 

Transforming an entire industry is a heavy lift for any entrepreneurs. But Tye and Courtney are first-time founders and totally unproven. And this is their first time raising VC. Will this husband and wife team be able to convince investors that they have what it takes to disrupt a century-old industry?


Daniel: I’m Daniel Gulati 


Daniel is a serial entrepreneur turned vc with Comcast Ventures,


Jillian: I’m Jillian Manus


Jillian is a partner at Structure Capital and an angel investor on the side.


Phil: I’m Phil Nadel


Phil is with Forefront venture partners. And I’m proud to introduce, a new voice on the show...


Nicole: I’m Nicole Verkent


Nicole is an angel investor.


All right, let’s get this Pitch started. 


Jillian: All right, tell us about yourself.


Courtney: My name is Courtney Caldwell, and together with my cofounder Tye, we're the creators of a B2B mobile platform called ShearShare.


Before ShearShare, Courtney and Tye were co-owners of a salon in Dallas, Texas.


Tye: We started way back in 2012.

Courtney: Seems like forever ago.

And when it came to hiring stylists, they did things the way they’d always been done.


Courtney: the way that stylists find professional space to work has not changed since 1916 you sign a long-term contract, then you're literally renting out of this one particular chair or suite for three, five, even ten years And that stylist is then paying out a weekly booth rent, or a monthly booth rent. So you're literally locked into a contract.


For over a century, long term contracts seemed to make sense to salonsandstylists. They gave salons a reliable source of income. And they gave stylists a home base from which to work. But suddenly that system stopped working. 


Tye: I realized in the course of six to nine months that nobody was trying to sign a long-term lease. But I had interest from a stylist who wanted to rent my space by the day 


A stylist renting a chair in a Salonfor the daywas unheard of. But since no one wanted to sign a longer term lease, Tye had to consider it…


Tye: So we thought about it and said, you know what? My station and suite is collecting dust rather than dollars So I took her out to lunch, asked her a few questions. We both decided to give it a whirl And lo and behold, we both enjoyed the process. We both enjoyed the experience.


Not only did they enjoy the process, but itworked. The stylist was happy because she was able to have some flexibility, and Tye and Courtney were happy because their stations were collectingdollars, not dust. And it got them thinking. Their salon wasn’t the only one struggling to sign long-term contracts with stylists. In fact, Courtney says that 40% of salon space in the U.S. goes unused. So they had an idea: what if they created an app that lets stylist find salon space to rent by the day?


Before they went all-in on the idea, they decided to run it by a friend with experience in tech...


Courtney: And so we told her our idea and what we've been going through and she was like, she paused, and then she said, okay, that's a billion dollar idea

A few years and plenty of blood, sweat, and SHEARS later. Their idea is now reality.


Jillian: So they're not... At first I was a little confused. You're not renting out the whole salon? You're renting out a chair? by the way, I am a slave to my hair.


Phil: As am I.


Tye: You’re slaying right now!


Jillian: I am slaying right now.


Phil: I am absolutely.


Jillian: And Phil is... His virtual hair. But I do get this But the salons are more open now to having a rotation of stylists come in?


Courtney: Great question. 


Jillian: but what's the value to them? To the salons? In addition to the chairs being filled 


Courtney: So the benefit to the salon is that they have an empty space. They're already paying overhead for that space. So there's excess capacity; they get to monetize that. That person gets to literally come in, they have their own book of business, so they're not taking clients off the street, they're not taking walk-ins. They get there, they do their clients, and then they're done 


Daniel: just so I’m clear. So the stylist, they’re coming in for like two days a week?


Tye: Two days a week.


Daniel: Two, three days a week. They’re doing, they’ve got their regular base of clientele - 


Courtney: Their own clientele, yes.


Daniel: They need the accouterments that they can’t get at home. They need all the set-up and...


Tye: Exactly.


Courtney: And they don’t want to pay a long term, they don’t want to be locked in.


Daniel: And they don’t want to be locked in. So they might work for three months and then do something else for three months, and come back on.


Phil: Oh wait.


Tye: It’s a consistency.


Daniel: They’re just part time.


Phil: What are they doing for the rest of the...


Tye: They’re licensed professionals, so they’re constantly doing this.


Phil: But if they’re part time in the salon, are they part time in another salon?


Jillian: They can be.




Phil: I’m trying to understand.


Tye: They’re meeting their clients where they’re at so they may have a pod of clients in Berkeley. The may have a pod of clients in Palo Alto So they’ll put all those clients together on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and say these are the days that I’ll be in Palo Alto.


So far the investors have been super engaged in this pitch right from the start. They’re talking over each other and barely able to get out a question before another investor chimes in with their two cents.


And I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Tye and Courtney’s business is built on the back of the sharing or gig economy. Over the past several years, we’ve seen some huge successes in this space — think Uber and Airbnb — and every investor wants a piece of the next one that hits.


But while this share economy trend might mean investors will give a startup like ShearShare a good, hard look, it also means they’re competing in a pretty crowded space.


Phil: So I'm an investor in Stylisted you know stylists come to your home, to your office, whatever So how do you view that in terms of the competitive landscape? Do you see that as being competitive?


Tye: I don't see it as being competitive in a sense, because you are catering to the customer But most people want to get out, put some clothes on, get out, meet their friends, and have the experience of the salon.


Nicole: I don’t know. I really think it’s competitive. I mean, Pepsi’s only competitor isn’t Coke, it’s also milk and water and other things you might want to drink. So that’s a different way to get your haircut.


Courtney: Good thought But when you think about the stylists, they want the freedom and flexibility to do whatever they want to do. So whether or not their clientele wants a salon experience, or someone wants a quick blow-dry. Like, I would never get my hair done at home. Never. Would never get a service in my home. 


Tye: So people that are using Stylebee or Stylisted, they still may want to use this


Phil: In addition to?




Courtney: We actually have stylists who use us. Who do the on demand, and people who work full-time...


Nicole: So it all depends on what the client wants.


Tye: Yes.


Nicole: It's just one of the things they can offer them.


Courtney: And it depends on how the stylist wants to build their book of business. Because a lot of stylists want to build their clientele in other cities, and how can they do that without having a salon, per se. And the own data that we have. We didn’t even mention that. We have data that no one else has ever had access to. Like how much is a stylist willing to pay to work by the day? Where are they going? Are they staying in their town? Are they going across state to state? How many clients are they doing? So we can ask these questions now. 


Did you hear that? Courtney said the magic word. Data! If you’re playing pitch bingo, you can check that box. Okay but for real. Data, the growing gig economy, that’s all exciting for thefutureof the company. But what about now? 


Jillian: What's your traction? Tell us a little bit about your traction.


Courtney: So we launched the beta app in September 2016. By design, we made sure that we built up the supply side of the marketplace first, because having to go out and educate salon owners, as you can imagine, who have been doing the same thing for over 100 years, helping them understand this is a brand-new revenue stream for you. So we are now in 380 cities in 11 countries. We're growing 20% month over month 


Nicole: how many users does that represent? 


Courtney: So 1900 monthly active users.


Nicole: Sorry? 1900 monthly active users?


Courtney: The salons and the stylists. So we have 700 hosts on the platform.


Phil: Okay. 700 salons. 1200 stylists? 


Nicole: 700 salons in eleven countries. Isn’t that...


Tye: And 11 countries. That’s the spread it out.


Tye: But the eleven countries?


Courtney: We have Russia, Germany, Barbados...


Nicole: So in those countries you only have a couple, and then you probably have a big concentration...


Courtney: One in many. Yes. One in Russia. One in Germany. We focus on the US.


700 salons sounds good...until you hear that they’re scattered across 11 different countries. For a startup like ShearShare to gain serious traction they need to be a much bigger presence in every market they go into.


Daniel: So of those 700 salons, what's your biggest city today?


Courtney: Dallas. Dallas and New York. Dallas, New York and LA. 


Daniel: Okay, and how many salons is that? 


Courtney: There are over 2500 in Dallas.


Nicole: So there's a lot more market saturation you could have within Dallas.


Courtney: Oh yeah. We're just scratching the surface. 


Daniel: So what drove you guys to make the decision to go wide versus deep in your market. It seems to me that this is a classic two-sided marketplace business, and the textbook says get density in one city, stand up the supply side, and then get that network effect going 


In other words, the conventional wisdom says they should try to dominateonemarket before they move into tons of new territories. Let’s take the company Grubhub which also owns seamless as an example. They own upwards of 75% of the restaurant-delivery business in the U.S. One of the reasons they’ve been able to be so successful is they started out in ONE city—in this case Chicago—and partnered with a ton of restaurants in order to become the go-to delivery service there. To use Daniel’s words, they “stood up the supply side.” Then, and only then, did they expand into a new city. 


If ShearShare, wants to become the go-to for stylists, this piece of the puzzle is mission critical. 


Daniel: So why isn't the strategy just buy the supply side in your key markets, own it, and then go to the demand side.


Courtney: That's exactly what we're doing right now.


Nicole: You’d have to do that in one city, though, right?


Courtney: We’re focusing on Dallas, exactly. Because that’s home base for us, for one. But also because we’ve been winning in Dallas And you guys honestly sound like one of our very last team meetings, where we said we have to go deep in our top three cities, but we’re going to really focus hard on Dallas. And we’re creating a playbook, mind you, that we can just copy and paste for every other city.


Daniel: So like what are you seeing on the overall net revenue to you guys per salon that you have on the system per some unit of time, let's call it a month.


Courtney: A month. Okay So with the current hosts that we have, the average revenue for that particular host per month it's really about $800 a month, roughly.


Daniel: And that's gross, net to you guys? Or is that...


Courtney: That's the booking, top line.


Daniel: And you'll take, so that's like 200 bucks-ish to you guys.


Courtney: Right now.


Daniel: Got it.


Courtney: Yes. 


Jillian: So what's your monthly recurring revenue?


Courtney: $18,700 was last month.


Jillian: Okay. I'm a little worried about your revenues. You have 18,000 right now a month, and yet you have 700 salons, 1200 stylists. 


With 700 salons, at $200 in revenue per salon, ShearShareshouldbe pulling in six-figures a month. But in reality it’s less than 20 thousand.


Phil: It just seems like there are a lot of, you have a lot of salons and a lot of users, relatively speaking, stylists, and revenue... Something doesn't make sense to me. Revenue is very low compared to... Are a lot of the salons inactive? Are a lot of the stylists inactive?


Daniel: And to piggyback off that, you kind of do the math, and you say there are 2000 not even salons, like total clinics, salons in Dallas. You're getting $200 per premises per month. What's that? That's 400k in market size, if you get 100% of the market in a pretty big city. I guess to Phil's point, what are we missing there? Because that's a pretty small market size. 


Courtney: No. So...


Tye: I think what they're asking is just the consistency of use. So what you're seeing is the use, but the consistency, once the consistency ramps up, those numbers will get...


Daniel: So the bet is we can 10x the revenue per salon per month by increasing utilization.


Phil: Let me understand. When you say consistency of use, specifically are you saying that salons will rent out more chairs or they'll get...


Tye: No the stylists will use it much more.


Nicole: It sounds to me like you’ve got salons that for sure say I have some seats open, I’d love to do this. And then you have stylists that say, I love this, this is amazing, but it’s not that often maybe that they have... Like they have their core clients at their salon, and then they have their independent ones. And there may not be that many, because the culture hasn’t fully shifted yet. Is that kind of accurate?


Daniel: But you’ve got to believe a massive culture shift to get there, right? 


Nicole: For me, culturally I just go to my salon, I just go to a book.


Phil: But you were saying before, so you might have a salon who says, I have a seat available. And they use the app and they find a stylist and that people maybe takes the seat for one day a week or a month 


Tye: So you may have one person, okay, say they use it one time a month. And so they say, well, you know what, I like what I'm doing, my clientele is getting bigger, I'm going to use it eight times a month, twice a week. And still have a home salon.


Phil: The stylist is making that decision?


Courtney: The stylist makes that decision.


Tye: So those are the numbers where you may say it's low, but the consistency and the more usage...


Jillian: Increased use.


Nicole: My gut is they have their core business and this is where they get extra revenue right? As a stylist?


Tye: Yes. And that is the case when they’re already in their contract. When they get out of their contract, we have people that’s out of their contract, that are using it. Because they’re not working, it’s seven in days a week, they’re not working but four days in a week, they’re working three days in a week. So they’re using ShearShare because they don’t have to worry about the overhead costs anymore now. 


Tye: We really believe we’re in the front of it. We’re in the front of the shift. 


Tye and Courtney are basically saying, sure, people aren’t using our app as much as we’d like yet — But eventually, this will be the ONLY way that stylists work. No more long term contracts. Just trust us. 


But why should investors take a gamble onthem


Courtney: And forgive me, I didn’t get to give our professional backgrounds. 


Courtney gestures towards Tye.


Courtney: So 25 years in beauty and barbering. 20 years as an award-winning salon owner. Bestselling author on how to achieve long-term success in the beauty and style industry. Books available on Amazon.com.


Jillian: What’s the name of it?


Courtney: Mentored By Failure. He never likes to talk about himself. That’s why I have to do the ad for him. And he’s a doctorate. He has his doctorate degree in professional barbering. So like top of the top of the top of the top. 


Daniel: A doctorate in professional barbering? That’s amazing.


Phil: Are you the only one?


Courtney: There are celebrity stylists.


Tye: There’s only a few. And they are very high in the industry. Celebrities. Travel.


Daniel: Where did you, I’m curious where did you...


Tye: Miracle University in Virginia. Martinsville, Virginia. 


Courtney: So my background is 20 years in tech marketing. B2B technology marketing. So I used to run Oracle's digital strategy and innovations group worldwide. Had P&L across five continents. We’re the right team to figure out this problem. And we’re doing it. Every day. Everyday we get phone calls, I’m gonna cry.


Tye: Don’t make me cry.


Courtney: Saying that...


Nicole: I don't know if it's okay for me to - 


Phil: Cry?


Nicole: No, not cry, just jump in here. 


Nicole is ready to dive into decision time.


Nicole: I just want to say, you guys fit my investment thesis perfectly. So I'm not a full time investor. I'm actually an operator, I'm an entrepreneur, I've done two startups. My current startup is actually very similar to your business So I love what you guys are doing. I think it's amazing. And it really fits exactly And I love you guys. So I would come in on these terms. It would be a smaller amount. It would be 25k. But for me, I would want to figure out how I can help you guys. So maybe you can tell me that. But that's the one piece that we would have to talk about and figure out how I can actually add value. Because I can't just throw money into something. I'd have to figure out how to actually add value. 


Nicole is in! With a 25K personal investment. Daniel is up next.


Daniel: I think you guys are awesome. And I think you're really building a business that touches people's livelihoods.


Courtney: Literally.


Daniel: On the salon side and on the stylist side I think that the excess capacity problem is a big problem on the salon side, and I think you've articulated it really well Where I ultimately - so I'm a venture guy, so I'm sort of coming from the opposite end of the food chain to some of these guys - and really the test for me is can it, market size is obviously a huge driver. And for me, where I ultimately got tripped up was this, just kind of doing the math around the number of salons and revenue per salon. And how do we get to be a really big two-sided marketplace, versus a smaller more niche two-sided marketplace. And so purely from that perspective I'm going to sit this one out and pass. But I have a lot of respect for what you guys are doing, I have a lot of respect for your guys' background and how far you've taken this.


Tye: Thank you.


Daniel: And I kind of think you can take it 10 times further than what you've already done 


Daniel is out. Phil is up next.


Phil: So you know what I love about this? Is you guys. I mean, you are the embodiment of this business. You found a problem because you were living the problem. And you identified that way, and now you figured out a solution, you’re addressing the problem. And those are the best businesses. People who’ve lived the problem and then solved the problem. And so I think that’s great Like Daniel, I'm struggling with market size. And I see this as a way for stylists or salons to generate ancillary revenue, and I don't know that the behavioral change that's required is there yet And the other reason that I am struggling is, as I mentioned, I know what you said about the service being complementary to companies likes Stylistic, which is one of my portfolio companies, I just worry about a little bit of conflict which I try to avoid at all costs in my portfolios. So I'm worry about some overlap in focus there, as well. So for those reasons, I'm going to pass.


Courtney: Thank you. 


Phil is out. Jillian is the last investor left. 


Nicole: Jillian wants in. Come on in Jillian.


Jillian: You don’t know what Jillian wants.


Phil: Why don’t you tell us.


Nicole: Jillian loves hair. 


Jillian: So there are five things that are really, really important. One is that you meet our thesis, which is spot on. Two is that you meet our mission, our personal purpose and mission, which is spot on. Three is that you live this. You breathe it. And as you said, that you are a personification of this business. You are an extension. It starts with you and ends with you. full loop I love this for so many reasons. I do think your revenue model, it takes a while to figure out the pricing models, I get it. And that’s something we definitely would have to massage. I’m going to come in personally at 100,000. But what I also am going to do, is I’m going to bring this to Structure Capital, because this is so much Okay. I don’t know how that 100 is going to work out, and it might end up to be 250, or it might end up to be more. But the fact is that I think you’re just the people we need to get behind, and I totally see this us being disrupted. Don’t cry! I make people cry. What’s wrong with me? I make everyone cry!


Phil: You made Dr Tye cry.


Nicole: You have a 100% ratio today. But she's right.


Jillian: I am so sorry! 


Tye: I mean, I'll say this. I mean, the reason that I cry is because... I'm the seventh of eight kids, and my mom has always believed in. So when she let move to Dallas at 15 on my own, to live with my sister, she always told me, she said I've always believed in you. And now my mom can't really share in that with me, because she has dementia. So the things that I'm living, I'm living for her. Now you lose a lot of friends when you're a startup, and when people don't understand you, you just have to kind of keep moving. And we're outliers. And so when people don't understand you, it doesn't really bother us, because we deal with the emotions of it, of losing friends. But at the end of the day, we know that god has something better for us. And so to be a woman black founder, and a male black founder in such an intense, I say, founder of Anglos, it means a lot to us to be those role models. And so these tears are just in amazement that other people can believe in what we're doing. Because we had to believe it first. So we thank you. For the ones who are not investing, because we believe that the feedback is valuable.


Jillian: Well guess what? I think we all believe in you. I think we all believe in you. And also you're not just role models for people of color, you're actually role models for all of us.


Tye: We believe it. We believe it.


Courtney: At the end of the day, everyone knows the golden rule. But our silver rule, whether it's home or in the business, is you've got to leave people, places and things better off than when you found them.


Jillian: Amen on that.


Phil: You guys did a great presentation.


Daniel: That was awesome. Thank you so much.


Jillian: Fantastic. Fantastic. 


Courtney: Thanks you guys.


Daniel: Thanks so much.


Jillian: I think we should bring tissues. Aw!


Courtney and Tye just reeled in at approx $125 thousand in commitments from Nicole and Jillian. 


They walk out of the room, leaving our investors to dry their eyes. 


Jillian: Oh my god. I love them.


Daniel: This has been an emotional...


Nicole: I actually, Jillian, I never cry.


Jillian: I know. I was welling up, and then she started crying, and he started crying.


Phil: They were great.


Jillian: And I’m thinking to myself, you know, one of the sponsors for this show should be Kleenex. 


Nicole: I actually don't think that they are necessarily VC ready. I think the two of you are right in that. Because they haven't figured out, I don't think they've figured out the revenue piece yet.


Jillian: For seed.


Nicole: I just love the way they built it. It reminds me of me. I see myself in them, six, seven years ago, building my company.


Jillian: By the way, their product is, and their product is really good. I mean, it is really...


Phil: Oh the app looked great.


Jillian: App looked great, easy use, really as you said intuitive. Unbelievable. 


Daniel: I think marketplace building is kind of like an art. There are playbooks that you can look to. And I think my biggest thing for them is they just could use a little bit of more intentionality on building the two-sided marketplace.


Nicole: They're just responding to customers so much.


Daniel: Totally. Which is actually great.


Nicole: The thing I love about them is they’re responding to customers. And then the thing that’s bad about them is that they’re like, I want this app in this city and they go whoop.


Daniel: Totally. And it’s almost like you need to pull up and be more strategic.


Phil: Build Dallas.


Jillian: They have to be very laser focused right now. But I have to say that we have so many marketplaces in our portfolio - 


Daniel: I’d intro them to like five CEOs of your...


Jillian: That’s what I’m going to do. That’s exactly what I’ll do. I actually wrote down who I’m going to turn them on to. There are two in particular. Absolutely. Absolutely. I just... In a way, this is why we do what we do, right? And that’s why we love The Pitch.


Phil: I do it for the free bananas.


Jillian: Okay. Go get your banana. Another banana for Phil. Here we go. Another banana. You and your bananas. 


Phil heads off in search of his free banana, as I nail this tease to an ad break. 


When we come back, things get shaky with the investment.




Welcome back! 


Okay, so before I tell you what happened next, I need to set the scene. The pitch you just heard happened on the first of our three day pitch event in San Francisco. Everyone left that first day in high spirits. BUT the next morning Jillian came in and dropped a bombshell on me: she couldn’t invest personally in ShearShare because of another personal investment she made in a potential competitor, a company called Stylebee. It looked like the whole deal was off. And once Jillian said she was probably out, Nicole started having second thoughts too. I can’t even express how disappointed I was.


But there was one hope left: even though Jillian couldn’t investpersonally, that didn’t mean herfundcouldn’t invest. Remember, Jillian mentioned she was going to take the deal to her partners at Structure Capital? Generally speaking, these deals are a lot harder to close than angel investments: the due diligence process is more rigorous and there are just more people that have to say yes.


When we left California, everything was still up in the air.


Fast forward two weeks, Jillian says she’s talked to her partners and they have some serious questions they want Jillian to ask Tye and Courtney. They all hopped on a call together...and we recorded it.


Here’s Jillian, getting right to business.


Jillian: All right. So, we, so here's the here's one of the big questions: we've seen of married couples. But as you know, it creates tremendous amount of stress and we've seen companies blow up because of founders not being able to work out their differences. With a married couple, there's another layer to this and this is something that we do have some concerns about And yet uh you know we there's there there's an issue that we've discussed that we know will create some problems um if we broach this topic but we have to broach this topic and it's why, Courtney, why you're not the CEO. Why Tye is CEO. 


Courtney: Sure. Yeah, yeah. No, no, great question Uh you know, the, the visionary, you know the person with the subject matter expertise, you know, in beauty, in barbering, and salon ownership, and team management in this particular field um is Tye. It was the impetus behind Shear Share was Tye's vision all along. Um, I am definitely, as you would say, the, the best executer that there is, uh operations wise and he is the one who uh sees the forest for the trees Now what that means 


Jillian: So, wait, wait, wait, wait, Courtney, I want Tye to answer this.


Courtney: Oh, sure.


Tye: Well, and and Courtney, led well, you know, when we first started this out, you know, I've always been a, a leader, in my own right, you know, kind of what you call owner-ceo of my own company. So, I've always been a visionary to the things that I wanted to see uh forthcoming, and when we talked about this, I've always told my wife, I was like, you know, if I ever, if we ever did business together I would love for you to be, you know, right alongside me because I like the way you execute. Uh, she's always said that she was a great number two and I said, well, you know, being a great number two is always a great number one B, you know, as well so never, never count yourself out of one.So I didn't choose her as a business partner, the business partner came in, in, in, in because God came in between our relationship and that's what he wanted us to do. I'm just glad that he chose her for me as a wife first and a business part-partner second And that's just how we, we work it so we never really sat back and thought about me being a CEO or her being a COO or anything else.


Jillian: So what happens when, um, you have a disagreement?


Courtney: The two of us or?


Jillian: Yeah, yeah. About the product 


Courtney: Yeah


Jillian: have you had that before?


Courtney: Of course.


Jillian: Yeah, how have you remedied that?


Tye: So that's the beauty of having a relationship not only as cofounders but as a married couple because you get a chance to work them out. it can get tough some days, but we know going in before even starting Shear Share that we were each other's um


Courtney: Best allies


Tye: best allies and we were each other's keeper at the same time and I, I, I never forget when we first started, you know, Shear Share, and we started doing the calls and calling up salons and getting them on board. Courtney came from Oracle, the corporate world, and Courtney, I said, Courtney, you know, we're going to call these people, and, and, I think I stepped out and I was in a meeting call and so she has started calling without me, and she said babe, you know, uh everybody's hung up on me. I said well what are you saying? And she was using corporate terminology and stuff like that. So hey, talk to these people, like their regular people, who are going to work every day, they're blue- they're just, they're just hardworking people that have a craft and a skill and an artistry to what they do. Talk to them like normal and I guarantee you everything will change. She did that and she became a guru and talking to the stylists that was one of the things that we learned early on how we could know, help, help each other


Courtney: Definite refinements [laughing]


Jillian: Great ok ok ok good ok I like what I'm hearing. I, um, I'll be honest with you, I do always think that in our community um and it’s a tech-centric community, and I would prefer, Courtney, if you were, had the title of CEO um because I think that represents the high-tech piece and because of your background with Oracle and your ability to understand and be able to communicate the technical pieces of the product um I think that I would like you guys to reconsider that and to talk about it. That said, okay, for me, it is not, as you see, I'm not pushing that. I'm not saying I need you to do this or else.


Tye: Yeah, yeah. We understand.


Jillian: Ok, I'm not going to be a part of this. Alright?


Courtney: Right. That's, and that's really good feedback about the optics. That's something that we will weigh. And we really appreciate that that candor.


Tye: Yeah we really appreciate that a lot 


Jillian: I just think this has to be a conversation that you have when we hang up That said we'd like to put $250,000 into your company.


Tye: Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.


Courtney: You took us through all that, Jillian. 


Jillian: You want to know something Courtney. I didn't know if I was going to put 250,000 into the company. Ok.


Courtney: I respect that.


Jillian: We had had an investment partner meeting we talked a lot about what the issues were what the challenges what definitely there were some and I said to the team we said if we feel comfortable and confident that they'll be able to navigate and speak openly and respectfully about our concerns. Then then this is what we would we would risk. And you know with every company it's always a risk. So but there are tremendous amount of rewards here. I think you're a stunning team And I love your spirituality too to tell you the truth. I think that you're grounded in tremendous values and as you guys know I always say we really invest into values not just valuations. And that's... 


Courtney: That's good. 


Jillian: It's truly important. I think you're going to build a culture of values which is important to our own structure community. So with that congratulations.


Tye/Courtney: Wow. Wow wow. 


Jillian: You jumped through all the hurdles. 


Courtney: Oh my gosh. I have. It's very rare that I have... I have little words or no words but you no really you you have stunted me right now. I wish I was in front of you so I could give you a big hug. Because that would communicate what I'm feeling.


Jillian: We'll do a virtual big hug. 


Jillian: There you go. I'll take it. But with this 250 comes you know a burden of proof…


Courtney: Of course. 


Jillian: Right. A lot of hard work.


Courtney: That's not the scary part. That is not the scary part for us. That's the easy part. 


Jillian: Ok. 


Courtney: If you believe in us we have no problem with that.


Tye: Yeah. 


Jillian: Ok, guys


Courtney Let's get to work


Jillian: Let's get rocking.


Courtney: Thanks, Jillian! Talk soon!


Tye: Thanks, Jillian!


Jillian: Cheers!


Jillian hangs up, but the tape keeps rolling. 


Courtney: Oh my goodness. Oh my gosh. I didn't know what path


Tye: I didn't know what to think.


Courtney: I didn't know what path we were going down. I was like, (laughs) 


Tye: I couldn't sleep last night.


Courtney: Oh my god.


Tye: Or I couldn't sleep for a lot of reasons. I said I know they're going to have concerns. I knew that being a married couple was going to be a concern to have a, a, uh venture cap--company like structure, that's their thesis is invest in marketplaces.


Courtney: And zero waste economy.


Tye: And that that's a whole other level. So it was, it was really God sent.


Courtney: Well Jillian is gonna become my new BFF. 


Tye: And she’s gonna be like my second mom


Courtney: I love it, I love it. This is just the beginning.


Tye: Only the beginning


Courtney: So let's go have a glass of wine and celebrate and have a conversation


Tye: Yea big conversation and just enjoy it. Enjoy the moment.


Tye and Courtney had plenty to talk about and plenty to celebrate…


And then a couple of days later they got even more good news: Nicole’s $25,000 angel investment had also come through. AND then Charles Hudson with Precursor Ventures, another investor who’s been on the show, decided to join the round, coming in for another 250K. All together, ShearShare receivedover a half a million dollarsin funding.


And then,right before this episode aired, they appeared at Google’s Demo Day—and won! They receivedanother$250,000 from J.D. Vance, one of the judges, and ended up oversubscribing their one million dollar seed round.


Not too shabby for a couple of first-time founders in their first-ever round of fundraising.


Our show is produced by me, Josh Muccio, Kareem Maddox, and Molly Donahue. We are edited by Devon Taylor.

We are mixed by Enoch Kim. Original music composed by The Muse Maker. Our Theme Music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

Thanks to Lisa Muccio for planning the recording of this pitch.

We found out about ShearShare because of an introduction from Christie Pitts and and the team at Backstage Capital. Founders who are raising money can apply to pitch by going to thepitch.show/apply

And as a reminder, no offer to invest is being made to or solicited from the listening audience on today’s show.

All right -- you’ve been listening to The Pitch from Gimlet Media. We’ll be back with a brand new episode, next Wednesday.

Tye Caldwell

Co-founder at ShearShare

Courtney CaldwellProfile Photo

Courtney Caldwell

Co-founder at ShearShare

Nicole VerkindtProfile Photo

Nicole Verkindt

Investor on The Pitch

Nicole Verkindt is an entrepreneur, investor and CEO. Nicole was StartUp Canada's 2019 Woman Entrepreneur Ambassador of the year, named StartUp Canada's 2017 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, was a Dragon on CBC's "Next Gen Den", and was one of Adweek's 2018 "Toronto Brand Stars.”

Daniel GulatiProfile Photo

Daniel Gulati

Investor on The Pitch

Daniel Gulati is the Founder and Managing Partner at Treble Capital, an early stage investment firm that invests in consumer internet companies ranging from marketplaces, to gaming, to digital health. Before starting his own firm, Daniel was a serial entrepreneur, and then a managing director at Comcast Ventures. There, he he led investments in consumer startups that have since grown a combined enterprise value of $4 billion.

Jillian ManusProfile Photo

Jillian Manus

Investor on The Pitch

Jillian Manus is Managing Partner of an early-stage Silicon Valley venture fund, Structure Capital. Branded “Architects of the Zero Waste Economy," they invest in underutilized assets and excess capacity. She was named one of the top 25 early-stage Female Investors by Business Insider in 2021. Jillian serves on numerous corporate and non-profit boards, these include: Stanford University School of Medicine Board of Fellows, NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center Board of Directors, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Phil NadelProfile Photo

Phil Nadel

Investor on The Pitch

Phil Nadel is the Founder and Managing Director of Forefront Venture Fund and of Forefront Venture Partners, one of the largest syndicates on AngelList. He has started and sold several companies and has invested in more than 200 startups with several exits.