By Paula Ann Solis
For Baylor students having trouble getting just the right haircut to mimic celebrity styles, three Baylor students have created an app that aims to make that task just a little bit more manageable.
Houston senior Javier Vargas, Katy senior Alex Le Roux and Rockwall senior Alex Asbill are the developers of SmartSnips, an iTunes app that helps users track their favorite hairstyles and also communicates to stylists what they want while in the chair.
This app’s creation was motivated from the all too familiar feeling of a bad hair day, Le Roux said. He was frustrated after one too many haircuts did not come out the way he had hoped and he decided to create what he called a “recipe” for the perfect haircut using measurements put to use by stylists but often unfamiliar to those getting their hair cut.
“When you encounter a frustrating problem you try to fix it,” Le Roux said. “We tried to do that and monetize it at the same time.”
The app has been available through Apple’s App Store since October and has already been downloaded to hundreds of smartphones. It remembers the hair salon metrics and uses pictures uploaded by users to create an easy-to-understand template that allows users to replicate their haircut on multiple visits or discover new styles, according to the app’s website smartsnips.com.
The app also has a “24 Hours Later” section that allows users to describe what their hair looks like after the glow of a new hairdo has worn out.
Though the idea was formed outside of the classroom, its creation was accelerated while the trio was enrolled in Baylor’s Accelerated Ventures Program, a two-semester course that teaches students how to start successful companies while in school.
“What we are doing is taking that year and building something we can later keep for ourselves,” Vargas said. “So this is our company that we can take to the next step when that time comes.”
Vargas said the app is currently free for users to download on their phones and any profits the creators hope to garner would come from deals made with salons that use the application to help their customers. Because the software side of SmartSnips that is used by salon owners is still being tested, Asbill said he could not reveal which Waco spot is using the software to keep records of customers’ hairdos.
“We’ve talked to several salons and just recently finished the software side of it so one local salon is using it right now,” Asbill said. “Without spending more than $20 on marketing so far, we’re doing pretty well.”
The greatest success story Asbill said the company has had so far comes from a Baylor student who used the app to try out a new hair style.
“He wanted the Kliff Kingsbury haircut like the famous coach from the Texas Tech football team,” Asbill said. “He went to a salon he hadn’t been to before, showed him through the application what the metrics were and then he received the same haircut and he really liked it. That’s one of our favorite stories to tell.”
The app helps recreate the “Kliff Kingsbury haircut” by telling the barber how many inches to cut off the top, sides, back and to shape the sideburns and hair on the users neck. This is just one of several celebrity looks that can be found on the app.
With one user happy and several more to come, Le Roux said the group remains motivated to work hard by the reminder that this app is solving a problem not yet addressed by the app market.
Asbill said the app has grown from its original male focus and now includes solutions for female users and as the company moves forward they will expand on female priorities. Asbill said female expertise and expertise in general that is used by the app comes from researching and talking with professional stylists.
“The question that people always ask is ‘Does it work?’ and from what we know the answer is that it does work,” Asbill said. “And a lot of people also ask, ‘Do people really care what their hair looks like?’ and we say yes. Hair is the one thing that people are constantly fixing, cutting and updating. It’s something that everybody sees so we think this will be something positive going forward and will improve your everyday haircut.”