The first of its kind
For many black British men, barber shops are a place to socialize, but others believe they are a waste of time. For this reason, two young men came up with a solution, a barbershop on wheels that you book via an app called Trim-It. In an interview, Darren Tenkorang, 24, co-founder of Trim-It stated that his “service is like Deliveroo, or Uber Eats, but instead of delivering food, we deliver haircuts.” He currently has two vans operating around south London and another in the northwest of the city.
Darren grew up in Brixton where his mother worked as a cleaner and his father as a security guard. They had arrived from Ghana in the 1980s and wanted Darren to become a banker, lawyer or accountant. However, these dreams never became reality as Darren found out he was dyslexic. Therefore, he decided to make his own way as an entrepreneur. He first created a digital platform that used an algorithm to match clients’ personalities with tutoring services. Unfortunately, the app quickly failed. The following year he entered the StartUp Sussex enterprise competition for student entrepreneurs. It was then when he decided to work on male grooming, an idea he was passionate about.
In an interview, Darren stated that his dad used to take him to the barbers in the morning where they would spend hours. They would watch football and his dad would usually sip a pint of Guinness. Darren enjoyed these times, however, as he got older he became frustrated with the number of hours he wasted in the barber shop. Even though there was a special feeling of community, he believed it was more necessary for the generation before his. “The new generation, like me, just want a trim and to get on with their day,” says Darren. “We live our life fast-paced.”
Originally Darren’s main idea was an app that allowed you to book an appointment at a salon for a fixed time and with a specific barber. Within the proposal, he had also included the possibility of a mobile barber shop in the future. The idea won him the University of Sussex’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year. With the £10,000 price, he got his company up and running, recruiting a rival from the competition and fellow student Nana Darko. However, negative customer feedback soon built up because barbers were not arriving on time at the salons. Furthermore, the competition money was drying up. It was at that moment that both decided to take a huge risk and try the idea of mobile barbers. Not long after, the app became a success mainly due to some celebrity customers like musicians Charlie Sloth and Sneakbo.
Challenges never end
Despite its success, the company is still facing challenges. For instance, when visiting residential areas they have difficulty finding where to park to avoid getting a ticket. Furthermore, sometimes it’s difficult to reach customers in different parts of the city due to London’s traffic. There is also a problem with climate change as young clients may not feel comfortable having their hair cut in a van fueled by fossil fuels. However, Darren is not worried stating that “mobile barber shops will be a thing, trust me.”