It’s a situation many of us are all too familiar with: you look in the mirror and realize you need a haircut before tonight’s big event.

Or you’ve had a painful flight and want a massage. Trouble is, you don’t know anything about the city you’re in.

Scott Keller, a local hair stylist who travels a lot, is familiar with both situations. It was while he was in Las Vegas over New Year’s Eve, though, that he saw a business opportunity.

He watched as stylists came into the hotel and charged visitors huge mark-ups for last-minute up-do’s.

“I use OpenTable and Uber a lot when I travel,” said Keller, who has been styling hair for 17 years. “Why isn’t there an app like that for the beauty industry?”

Back in Waterloo, he began looking into the idea.

That turned into Bookm, Keller’s new beauty app, which launched Sept. 1 in Google Play and iTunes.  It connects consumers with local stylists to book appointments for today or tomorrow.

“You want to know what’s convenient now,” Keller said. “I have a lot of friends who forget to book an appointment, but then want a spot tomorrow — and think about it at 9 p.m. the night before.”

Keller knew he had a good idea. Research showed there was nothing quite like it on the market.

He chatted with local stylists and clients. Both validated his idea. He just had to figure out how to build it.

“I’m living in a tech region, but I have no tech background,” he said.

But Keller had clients in the tech industry. Listening to his idea, they referred him to Communitech’s Startup Services Program.

“Being able to log on, fill out an application, and come down to have a meeting and pitch your idea was awesome,” he said.

Keller was apprehensive about heading into Communitech. Having no coding skills or technical background, should he even bother?

His quick answer was yes. With his account manager’s help, he built out his business, hired contract workers to help build the app and develop his marketing plan.

Keller is currently balancing being a full-time stylist and learning how to run a full-time startup.

“It’s been all me,” he said. “With Communitech, having the [Business Fundamentals] classes available to you to strengthen yourself in certain areas has been awesome.”

Bookm, launching locally in Waterloo Region to start, works to connect hair stylists, aestheticians and massage therapists.

Customers search through stylists, based on location. They have access to services and prices, and can read reviews from other clients.

The customer then books a stylist for a service for that day or the following day, depending on availability based on the stylist’s real-time updates. The stylist confirms the appointment through the app.

“At the end of the day I want to help [stylists] grow their business, and help clients book appointments easily,” Keller said. “It works in so many other industries. We are supposed to be the cutting edge of fashion, but we are still so behind in technology.”

***

Happy long Labour Day weekend. While I expect Waterloo Region to be quiet as people escape for the last long weekend of the summer, there is still fun to be had at home. I see and hear that . . . The Boardwalk at Ira Needles Boulevard (101 Ira Needles Blvd. Kitchener) is transforming into a carnival. Weather permitting, rides, games and carnival stalls will be set up for Sept. 3-4, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sept. 5-6, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. All proceeds go to St. Mary’s General Hospital . . . Intersections KW hosts its 13th meetup on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at the Boltmade office, 187 King St. S., Waterloo. It starts at 7 p.m. The meetup, entitled Finding Stuff in a Space Tiled by Pentagons, features a lecture by Christopher Vollick. Vollick’s topic? Finding Stuff: Some Approaches to Indexing. The meetup is free, but registration is required. 

About The Author

Kayleigh Platz

Kayleigh Platz is a storyteller and community relations manager for Communitech. Born, raised and schooled in Waterloo Region, she holds two degrees from the University of Waterloo and is interested in new media, social networks and making connections.