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iRate – The new ‘Uber Eats’ of barbers

We interview the founder of iRate Barbers – Tony Rose

“My name is Tony Rose and I am the founder of iRate barbers – a tech startup that helps connect mobile barbers to customers all around New Zealand”.

Before Tony started iRate, he was playing basketball in the United States and was scouted to play division 1 NCAA basketball before receiving the unfortunate news from doctors that he would not be able to play basketball ever again, due to health reasons. Thus began his entrepreneurial route, which included a firewood business and Flyboard NZ, which still operates now over in Wanaka. He then went on to work as a landscaper before eventually biting the bullet in 2019 and starting iRate.

So, how does one go from being a landscaper to running iRate Barbers? One day while working as a tradie, Tony realised he needed a haircut for an upcoming event, but his usual barber was busy. He then decided to look elsewhere for a barber and eventually found someone who did mobile cuts. However, due to popular demand the particular barber would not always be available, so Tony tried to find more barbers who did mobile cuts but there were none. Then the idea sprang to mind to essentially create an Uber Eats app, but for haircuts. 

 

“I had no idea how to fund a business at the start”

Tony struggled at the start with the stress that came with trying to fund a business. He needed a mockup of the app to show to potential investors, so he got in touch with a mate from high school who helped him with the design work creating a prototype. Following this, Tony attended a startup incubator course to learn how to fund a business, and in the hopes of finding angel investors. In the end, however, he decided to ultimately fund the business himself. Tony used his savings and sold his truck to pay his developer to build the app, as well as pay for the van and everything that goes inside it.
Tony Rose is someone who has taken control of his career and become a self-made entrepreneur, and he wants to help barbers to do the same. With iRate, barbers that already exist in the marketplace are able to maximise their earnings by choosing their own rates and receiving 90% of the total profit, with iRate receiving the remaining 10%. This is unlike most barbershops, where barbers will either work on commission or at an hourly rate, with the shop taking majority of the profits. What iRate provides is the ability for workers to get paid their worth and keep up with the steep costs of living. It is true that this could render barbershops obsolete in the future, however the world is changing, and so adapting to the times is essential. 
The use of social media is a contributor to Tony’s success in marketing and advertising his business.

“Definitely with Instagram, it’s given people a hub to know what we’re doing”

 

Short-form content is a great way to get your business out there and show what you do and what you’re all about. Apps like TikTok and Instagram have huge levels of outreach, where you can potentially be seen by millions of people. One of iRate’s videos posted on social media gave them 100 new app downloads, which Tony saw as a great, cost-effective way to reach new consumers.

 

iRate has already become a success in the short amount of time it has been live, but for Tony, it’s about making sure the focus is on the barbers and that they get paid before he does. Having a successful business doesn’t come with the riches you’d expect especially when the business is just taking off.

 

“It’s pretty rough starting a business because you have to pay your barbers and your workers before you give yourself a paycheck”

 

Luckily for Tony, he is able to work at home while running the business. This has helped lay the foundations for iRate as a support system for Tony as it is near impossible if you don’t have that support in place. 

 

This is where the business wants to continue to grow and the sky is the limit for Tony and iRate. Having already made a name for themselves in Wellington, their ongoing goal for the future is that more customers and barbers use the app and have the business well and truly established in New Zealand with more van franchises. Eventually, the ultimate goal is to expand beyond Australia and internationally too, even venturing out to tattoo artists, beauticians and workers who can operate in a mobile environment.

 

The final question I asked Tony was, “Is there any advice you’d give to someone wanting to start a business?”

 

“My advice to them would be to take a risk – you have to take risks if you want to start something. Starting is also the hardest part, the second you start putting steps in place it just becomes easier and easier especially when you break it down into small tasks. One of the hardest things you have to do is unlearn a lot of bad habits you have been taught from parents, school or just society in general and just understand what is value and how money is created. There is a big mistake that people think hard work equals more money and it’s so far from the truth. Provide value and you will get more money. Hard work has nothing to do with how much you earn. 

If you haven’t already, download the app, support your local and look out for this yellow van around town.

By Keenan Rogers