How a Ghanaian native built UK’s first app-powered mobile barbershop, Uber-style

Abu Mubarik October 11, 2022
Image via BBC

Darren Tenkorang is the co-founder of TRIM-IT, an app that allows users to request a haircut from the comfort of their homes. Tenkorang was inspired to start the app after spending so many hours in barbering salons to get a haircut.

“I got sick of waiting for an hour at the barber’s, especially on a Friday or Saturday,” he told the BBC. “The new generation, like me, just wants a trim and to get on with their day. We live our lives fast-paced.”

“So I thought maybe we should put a barber shop in the back of a van and have them come to you. At the time it sounded silly, but now it has come to life, so it’s an idea that made no sense but made sense at the same time, “he told Business Insider.

The Ghanaian native got the idea for the UK’s first app-powered mobile barbershop when he got a one-year placement at a reinsurance company in London. After six months in his new role, the University of Sussex graduate realized that he was dyslexic and decided to take a different career route.

“I love it for the first six months but after the first six months I realized I was really struggling, so out of fear I said to myself I need to control my destiny and create a business,” he told the Insider in an interview.

Tenkorang started the business with $11,000, prize money he won from a business competition. His initial business idea was to create a booking app so that customers could book appointments with barbers online.

He had over 300 barbers signed up but customers started complaining of poor service and, considering the fact that it was his platform that was being used, he needed to fix it. This led to the unorthodox idea of creating a mobile barbershop by renovating the back of a van.

He restricted the operation of the business so that, through the app, customers would book a mobile barbershop for their home, office, or even the gym.

According to Forbes, the first mobile barbershop proved successful, and Tenkorang leveraged that to raise money from angel investors to scale up his mobile vans to seven, with 11 barbers who offered at least 65 haircuts a day prior to the pandemic.

During the lockdown in London, TRIM-IT saw almost a 300% increase in sales and even struggled to meet demand. To cope with the rising demand for their services, the team decided to franchise their startup like McDonald’s. And according to Forbes, TRIM-IT raised $1.1 million to scale out this franchise model. They charge barbers £335/month ($367)and a 0-9% commission on sales.

The ambition of the company is to operate up to 2,500 vans across Europe and the U.S.

Tenkorang was born to immigrant parents with roots in Ghana who came to Britain in the 1990s. His father worked as a security guard while his mother worked as a cleaner.

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