Meet Mat Brady, the CEO of hairdresser booking app Rock Pamper Scissors that's raised £1.2m

Sarah Dunsby

The app is backed by New Look millionaire Tom Singh OBE

VITAL STATISTICS

● Company: Rock Pamper Scissors

● What it does, in a sentence: Instant hairdresser appointments with hotshot London stylists

● Founded: Bethnal Green, 2014

● Founder/s: Mat Braddy - ex-CMO of Just Eat plc

CEO: Bertie Cordingley

Creative Director - Paula Fanning

Technical Director - Jamie Osborne

The group of angels investing in the business includes Tom Singh OBE, the founder of New Look.

Size of team: 15

Your name and role: Mat Braddy, Founder

THE NEED-TO-KNOW

What problem are you trying to solve?

We believe it’s insane that booking haircuts online hasn’t become the norm as it has in every other market. Only about 1% of haircuts are booked this way. So why hasn’t it happened? Previous apps have listed businesses - but it’s not a business that cuts your hair it’s a person. When you talk to clients you discover two problems they have; What style will suit them? What stylist can do it? They never say they have a problem finding a salon - there are a dozen on every high street. Our app reveals local styles and gives instant booking of the stylists that did them.

How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own?

It’s a huge market - over £4bn in the UK alone. The interesting thing about this market is the number of stylists - almost 200,000 - many of whom are actually self employed but working in salons. Our focus is on doing the best job possible for these skilled individuals, to reveal their work and talent so they get more bookings with less hassle but also more respect for their art. There’s a talent retention issue in the industry which is a huge loss. By highlighting the individuals we hope to make their careers more rewarding, more lucrative, and easier via online tools. So we never talk about owning anything - we focus on doing a good job for these professionals so that they actually want to move their client management and booking online. If you do that then everyone wins. You don’t win at building a marketplace app by worrying about yourselves - you have to do a great job for the suppliers and clients.

How do you make money?

As with other online platforms we take a small percentage of the booking. The interesting thing is that despite this fee, online clients are more valuable to a salon. Our data shows that they are more loyal than a phone customer; our app makes it easy to rebook the place you liked last time. But more importantly for stylists, the clients are far more reliable at turning up because the app reminds them about upcoming appointments. Our service also reduces their admin overhead which they are delighted about.

Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this? 

Our CEO, Bertie Cordingley, was the entrepreneur of an excellent company we bought when I was back at Just Eat. He knows how to build startup marketplaces very well. Our Creative Director, Paula Fanning, is a top class brand designer who keeps it cool. Our Technical lead, Jamie Osborne, has joined us fresh from working in New York and Silicon Valley with a load of great experience. And I know a little bit about marketplaces & brands having helped build Just Eat for 6 years. 

Who’s bankrolling you?

We’ve been really lucky and attracted a great group of smart angel investors in addition to landing a £1.2m investment from both Seedcamp and 500 Startups.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?

It’s really hard to get going. The best advice I ever had was that your first batch of investment is likely to come from people you know already. This is true but tough - taking cash from people you know puts a lot of pressure on the first period where you’ll be figuring things out and getting things wrong. But it’s still true. Once you get past the initial exploration phase then get chatting to the early stage funds - they are always very helpful and give great advice.

What do you believe the key to growing this business is? 

It’s critical to understand the problems for the consumers and the suppliers and to do your best to help solve these. Forget your own great ideas - focus on being helpful. If client’s love what you do, they’ll grow your business through telling their friends. If suppliers love what you do for them, then they’ll grow you business through telling clients. Marketing in the end is then just icing on the cake.

What metrics do you look at every day?

We try to avoid vanity metrics and focus on those that reveal we are doing a good job for clients and stylist. So our key focus is on service quality - making sure the two parties are connecting well, turning up, and getting great haircuts. 

What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far? 

Cheesy but the more you try to help other founders and startups, the more your project benefits. You give ideas but you get just as many back. You share your network but you get to access others. I think that’s a great thing about London - it’s a really nice community working together to make each other stronger. There’s no sense of ego and competition with founders here - it’s a bloody tough grind to get a startup growing and we all help each other.

What’s been your biggest mistake so far? 

We built our first website based on trying to do a better job of what had gone before - a salon business listing site. As we got more experience and listened to the clients more we had our revelation that it’s all about stylists. So running off with our own ideas and not talking to clients enough was a rookie error. It’s a common one though so we don’t beat ourselves up too much.

What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead? 

Salon managers and stylists will learn to love online and realise how powerful these tools can be in growing their client bases.

Which London start-up/s are you watching, and why?

I’m watching lots of them as I try to help out with mentoring - it would be unfair to pick a favourite!

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