Hair, there and everywhere

MyHairdressers is accessing new and developing global markets with its innovative internet-based hairdressing training business model, as CEO Mark Butcher reveals.

As with all successful business ventures, MyHairdressers began with a great idea. In 2007, CEO Mark Butcher came on board as an investor to realise the vision of a group of hairdressers who had identified that the traditional hairdressing education of attending events and demonstrations was becoming obsolete. They wanted to exploit the vast opportunities and potential geographical reach of filming and posting instructional videos online. “For a two year period, I allowed the group to run the business and, to be honest, it began to fail and fail badly. The business was being run by committee and it simply wasn’t working. In August 2010 I took control and relaunched MyHairdressers as CEO.”

From here, things have really taken off for the company, as it benefits from Butcher’s extensive entrepreneurial expertise and past experience as Marketing Director for the Arcadia Group. “My vision was to make MyHairdressers into an international brand,” he says.

Market research pointed to regionalising the product, so a licensing strategy was integrated into the business model. “This gave us the benefits of franchising, but allowed us to develop a website which we could replicate and allowed us to translate the content with a local partner, so keeping control, but tailoring our offering for each region.”

The licensed website concept launched in association with Loreal, in May 2011, in the Middle East. “It brought the company world acclaim and recognition,” says Butcher. “We got into the Middle East just at the right time, and as we were doing something in Arabic in education it was massively unique.

“From here we sold licenses into Korea and Russia, and we now have a global network of 14 licences from Cyprus to Canada. We are launching in Spain, Germany and China and developing a licensing programme in the US on a state-by-state basis. We’ve achieved all this and more in just 16 months.”

The standard MyHairdressers subscription model offers access to a database of content and four new instructional videos a month – demonstrated by world-leading hairdressers. The company is also penetrating the schools market: “By September 2012, we launched the first fully digitised hairdressing qualification, essentially replacing books with video content. The take-up on this has been exponential. We are also now doing this in Australia for their equivalent qualification standard.”

The business is at a very fast-paced point in its growth, Butcher continues: “In a short space of time we have grown from having four people to 20, we’re launching pay-per-view this week, developing our advertising strategy, our YouTube channel has just gone over five million views and we are planning to diversify into new markets, such as beauty.

“What I’ve learned when growing a business overseas is the devil is in the detail. We’ve worked with the UK government to access information about the countries we are expanding into and I think it is vital to visit new markets to fully understand their culture and priorities – you have to go into it with your eyes open and begin your overseas growth where the natural opportunities present themselves.”

For more information, visit: http://myhairdressers.com/

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK