Melody McCloskey

Melody McCloskey

CEO at StyleSeat, the largest marketplace in beauty services.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 06, 2015

Discussion

Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
Hi all! I'm Melody. I started StyleSeat in 2011 so people can have an easier way to find book and pay for stylists, barbers and nail artists from their phone. Today we're the largest marketplace in beauty, with over 330k professionals in over 15,000 cities across the US and we'll power over $1B this year in appointments across our platform. I love pretty much all things involved with starting a business and I'm excited to chat! Ask me anything!
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@melodymcc Any personal stories that inspired the creation of the company?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@russfrushtick when I moved to San Francisco it was really hard to find a stylist. I was a new grad, really broke and wanted to find someone at a good price point that knew how to style my curly hair. It took years to find someone and a lot of failed appointments to make that happen which was so frustrating. When I started having a lot of conversations with salon owners and stylists I realized they were frustrated as well because there isn't an easy way for them to showcase their services, specialities and get more clients so it because clear that there was room for a service to do that.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Melody. Thanks for joining us today. What's something you've changed your mind about in the past 6 months with regards to being a CEO?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@eriktorenberg ooh good one. I change my mind all the time. Being in this position is humbling because you realize you don't have all the answers. I'm also very transparent with my team. They know the latest about fundraising, they see our board decks, everyone has access to company-wide metrics and we drink a lot together so they know what's up. Let's see, I used to focus more on competitors which I don't as much anymore. I took for granted the fact that we have killer people and as we've scaled I realized that that's actually insanely hard to find. I spend a lot more time recruiting than I used to because I've learned that great people are the biggest factor to building something meaningful and big.
Mary Elise Chavez
Mary Elise Chavez@maryelisechavez · ECD, Fabric Branding
@melodymcc If you had to articulate StyleSeat's unique brand moments that a customer experiences, what would they be? How have you evolved your customer experience to ensure satisfaction as you scale?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@maryelisechavez ooh, good one. I think ExpressPay, our Uber-like payments experience where clients don't have to open their wallet after an appointment or worry about a weird tip moment is amazing. We've been told that it's one of the biggest life changers for clients. On the stylist side we almost double their revenue in year 1 with automatic business tools, and we just launched really cool business analytics and portfolio management tools that they love. Customer experience is everything to us. We have no marketing team, all of our growth and focus has been on product and engineering so it's important!
Mary Elise Chavez
Mary Elise Chavez@maryelisechavez · ECD, Fabric Branding
@melodymcc Thanks so much, great to hear.
Mark Daniel
Mark Daniel@markdaniel94 · CEO, Strut
Hi Ms. McCloskey, first of all, huge fan. What has been the best day of your career so far?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@markdaniel94 oh hey fool! I just mentioned you to forbes the other day you're gonna get a shout out. Best day of my career? Launch day! I have never been that scared, thrilled, scared, happy or scared in my entire life. I was so proud of my team for pulling it off. I didn't realize our site broke 2 minutes before my presentation at TechCrunch Disrupt, I would have lost it but Dan didn't tell me which was a smart move :) We were live about 25 seconds before I went on stage.
Hunter Walk
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@melodymcc a little off-topic question but you were part of a very interesting team at Current TV. Has that alumni base stayed close - lots of great people there.
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@hunterwalk We are still super close! Chloe Sladden went on to be VP of media at Twitter and grace the cover of Fast Company, Ezra Cooperstein was founding CEO of Maker Studio and is an exec at Fullscreen, Robin Sloan did amazing things at Twitter and is a big author, I chat with all of them pretty regularly actually. Current had some of the smartest people I've ever worked with
Mahathir Jeshan
Mahathir Jeshan@mahathir_jeshan · Intern, Coderstrust
If StyleSeat were flop, how did you inspire yourself for a new project?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@mahathir_jeshan well i'm proud of what we've created. I will have that forever. I think I'm better equipped now than a few years ago to build something important so I'd try to be true to that and do it.
Mahathir Jeshan
Mahathir Jeshan@mahathir_jeshan · Intern, Coderstrust
@melodymcc thanks for your answer.
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@melodymcc Hello Melody. Thanks for doing this AMA. What's a typical day for you? I'm just interested to get a rundown of a "normal" day for you from start to finish.
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@erictwillis wake up at 5:45/6, email, work out for a few hours, first mtgs around 9, meetings/work/design reviews until about 7, sometimes dinner meeting until about 9.
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
Thanks everyone for your questions! This was super fun! Please reach out on Twitter if you ever want to chat more I'm @melodymcc also try StyleSeat! :)
Suzy Ryoo
Suzy Ryoo@suzywillow · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
Melody! hi. How can the Product Hunt community (and me) be most helpful to you in coming weeks/months? :0)
@melodymcc Appreciate you taking the time Melody. There are a few solutions in the booking space. I'm always looking to glean insights as to how the best entrepreneurs position their product in the market. That being said, who do you consider your biggest competitors (i.e. Booker, myTime, etc)? And how do you differentiate from them? Thanks so much!
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@m1lesv great q. There aren't many marketplaces connecting stylists, barbers, nail artists, estheticians, etc to clients. There is a company called Schedulicity which is a horizontal solution and a company named Vagaro which has thousands of stylist. There are also about three dozen on demand beauty apps to get a service done in your home, but they power thousands of appointments a month. We power 2 million appointments a month and we're in 80% of US cities. I'm less focused on competitors and more focused on owning the market!
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Melody, thanks for joining us today. What have been the biggest challenges you've had to overcome to make StyleSeat the success it is today?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@ems_hodge hmm, tons of challenges, and new crazy ones come up every day. For the majority of the time we've been around it was fundraising. Showing investors that they should care about hair stylists. It's a massive space, and we're doing something that truly transforms the lives of these small business owners but they didn't understand that or have passion for it. It took a lot of work to bring capital into the business, but now that we have, it's to our benefit that it was hard because we don't have dozens of competitors.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
@melodymcc how did you go about getting small businesses using StyleSeat? Was it on your value prop alone or did you have to do something to really get them engaged?
JorgeESamayoa
JorgeESamayoa@jorgeesamayoa
@melodymcc Whats the best way you test any idea before even build it? and how you spread it?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@jorgeesamayoa Ask your customers! I bribed a bunch of stylists with champagne and home made dessert plates my mom made to get them to listen to our pitch about how we wanted to change the beauty industry. We had no product, but we got a ton of feedback, and our first beta group because passionate about our mission because they saw that we cared so much and that the company was everything to us. They spent a ton of time answering questions because of that, it went a long way.
JorgeESamayoa
JorgeESamayoa@jorgeesamayoa
@melodymcc @jorgeesamayoa What about pre-concepts before doing a beta product? did you do a splash and ask for early birds? I doing this on my website but I'm not quite sure if it will measure interest among the people. This is what I'm doing http://www.producthunt.com/tech/...
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of work?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@jacqvon Oooh, I love hiking with my dog Winston. Music festivals are fun, I just got back from Austin City Limits this weekend. Traveling, learning languages though that's a harder one. Shopping but I'm probably not supposed to say that. I love fashion :)
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@melodymcc @jacqvon which languages do you know / want to learn first?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@eriktorenberg @jacqvon I speak French and can sort of understand Spanish and Italian. I studied Farsi and Russian in college. I think farsi is the most beautiful but it's not as useful unfortunately.
Michele Boyd
Michele Boyd@micheleboyd1982
Do you have any fear? and What should be the basic thing before start something big like yours?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@micheleboyd1982 omg all day every day. When I realized though that my desire to do this outweighed the fear I literally quit my job that day. Do your research, I'm many years in and I still love it but wouldn't have been able to do it if I didn't. Get an amazing team, build a passionate user base, work smart and hard.
Justin F Harris
Justin F Harris@justinfharris · Co-Founder, Beehive
@melodymcc Thanks for doing this AMA and congrats on all of the success with StyleSeat. Any advice on scaling a business in the early stages? What is the one piece of advice you would tell yourself 5 years ago? Thanks!
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@justinfharris we built a really passionate userbase because we built something that was VERY useful to them (client tracking so they had contact info and appt history instead of using 3x5 cards or not at all), and we built viral growth features into our early product. Stylists brought 150 clients to our platform, millions before we had any meaningful standalone consumer features. I wish I moved faster 5 years ago, got over my fear quicker, was better at the fundraising process. You have to build those relationships but I was more heads down on product. Being a good ceo means being good at whatever your business needs you to be good at which I didn't get until a few years in
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
what is your hiring philosophy? how do you 1) find the best talent and 2) convince the best talent to work for you? any litmus test questions, or key recruiting tactics you swear by?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@eriktorenberg at first I just hired my friends who were talented and worked their faces off. Board members are great for finding talent, having an external presence is good for that, events. Helping people to know you have a really fun culture and you're building something meaningful that will be big. Also recruiters, ugh. They help you get to folks that didn't have you on their radar.
Daryna Kulya
Daryna Kulya@darynakulya · Co-Founder @ OpenPhone | Product Hunt TO
Hi Melody, nice to see you here! What are several critical skills you learned from your previous experience at Current TV that helped you start and grow StyleSeat?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@darynakulya building out P/L, product management, being growth oriented and doing a lot with very little. I also built an awesome network of people while there that I am very connected to today.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Who are your biggest influencers in terms of career aspirations? Has anyone mentored you through starting your own company?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@ems_hodge My early mentors were Garrett Camp, Travis Kalanick and Padmasree Warrior. Hmm, I don't know if there's one person I ever looked to but there are different people I admire for different reasons. Gary Vaynerchuk is amazing because his hustle and ability to build an audience is unparalleled, Elle Luna is incredibly passionate and has completely carved her own path in incredible product design but also as an artist and author, Padmasree Warrior has had a fascinating career, she's had to fight tooth and nail to get her foot in the door and ran Cisco which is insanely massive as CTO for a while, Meghan Smith, CTO of the US is incredibly inspiring and a killer, Elon Musk, Larry Page is brilliant and very very funny.
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
Thanks Melody for doing this AMA! What is one "hack" that you use most often? This can be a life hack, growth hack, productivity hack, conference hack, conversation hack, whatever you feel has impacted you the most Best, Sydney
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@sydney_liu_sl I don't check email very often and don't read most of it. I have my own agenda to run the company and if I let others add to it big things can get lost.
Mark Jeffrey
Mark Jeffrey@markjeffrey · Author
Hi Melody -- My girlfriend is an Event Producer, and she counts three well-known billionaires among her top clients. Nonetheless, she still gets a lot of, "oooh aren't you cute, running your own company" attitude from a lot of people (not the billionaires) even to this day -- simply because she's a woman. Do you run into that also? And if so, how do you deal with it?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@markjeffrey ha ha yes. It used to really upset me, but I realized that while there are a lot of idiots out there that want to cut you down, there are a ton of benefits to being a woman in a male-dominated business. Also, just build something huge under the radar and shock them later. I still have executives come in to interview that are very fancy on paper and it's clear they think we're a tiny fluffy lady app because they haven't done their homework. When I mention we'll do over $1B this year in appts across our platform they don't know what to say. I don't dwell on it but it's fun to delicately put someone in their place when they realize you aren't what they thought.
Mark Jeffrey
Mark Jeffrey@markjeffrey · Author
@melodymcc @markjeffrey "tiny fluffy lady app" -- LOL!
Carrie Melissa Jones
Carrie Melissa Jones@caremjo · Consultant | Director of Content, CMX
Hi Melody! I love StyleSeat. I'm curious what you did in the early days to get stylists on board. Did you take "Do Things That Don't Scale" tactics? And now that time has passed, do you do anything to continue to engage the community of stylists that you've built (or is it less of a community and more of a loose network)?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@caremjo Hey! Great q! We did a ton of non-scalable stuff. I think my mom cooked food for every happy hour for like the first year (because we couldn't afford it otherwise), I spent tons of time in one-on-one customer interviews and hung out in salons for hours watching how things worked. When we do meetups we have a very passionate community that shows up, but we don't do them very often mostly because we don't have a marketing team. I 'm trying to build one lmk if you have any referrals!!! :)
Carrie Melissa Jones
Carrie Melissa Jones@caremjo · Consultant | Director of Content, CMX
@melodymcc I'm sure I could think of a few people, especially if it involves community-building with meetups and things of that nature. I'll tweet at you. Thanks for the reply! Sounds like building that initial community was a lot of fun.
Sahar Cohen
Sahar Cohen@saharc21 · Student
@melodymcc Hey Melody! How did you started everything? What was the first step?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@saharc21 hey! I sketched out the first version of styleseat in a notebook, showed it to a designer friend, got him drunk and asked him to design it for me for equity aka free. Then I went to craigslist and found someone to code it for me for equity aka free. Then I found a co founder and we built the rest of the MVP together while we bootstrapped the business and raised seed capital.
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
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Sahar Cohen
Sahar Cohen@saharc21 · Student
@melodymcc @saharc21 "got him drunk" hahaha
Tuan Le
Tuan Le@tuanl34
@melodymcc Hi Melody, thanks for taking off your precious time to do this awesome live chat! I have a couple of general questions about the space where StyleSeat is in (sharing economy): 1. I What do you think is the future of sharing economy (i.e, what would the Internet 4.0 looks like, as some people now define Uber and AirBnB as Internet Marketplace 3.0?) Particularly, do you think well-funded startups which are trying to disrupt the local services space and become "Amazon for Local Services" (e.g: TaskRabbit, ThumbTack, Handy, Porch, HomeAdvisor, etc) can ultimately disrupt established online + social directory like Yelp or even CraigList? 2. What is your thought on how the potential move of Amazon, into the beauty service space that would create a fierce competition, race-to-the-bottom on price, for your marketplace? I said this because as you might know, Amazon now competed with Etsy, and very recently is Amazon Flex to compete with UberFresh. What makes you believe StyleSeat has achieved/scaled to a level of having a sustainable business models to survive? 3. Do you think this beauty services market, which is around $80B, would be "a winner takes it all," or there would have to be several players dominating, as the pie is too big for a single company like StyleSeat to swallow all? Highly appreciate your thought on these questions!
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@tuanl34 1) i think companies/services/marketplaces will become more intertwined to provide a seamless experience for the user. StyleSeat will could work with uber, airbnb, and leverage other companies' services to provide a more wholistic business solution for stylists 2) bring it, Bezos. 3) I think there will be one or two major players that own all of it, and I think we will take it.
Tuan Le
Tuan Le@tuanl34
@melodymcc @tuanl34 I love your competitive personality:) Any further elaboration on #2 for your extreme confidence? It's quite interesting to hear your thought that there would be 1 or 2 companies dominating a huge space like this. I honestly don't know much about this space, but I'm quite curious how much of the market share did StyleSeat already gain, or aim to gain, in the next, say, 12 - 18 months? What are the established companies in this space btw?
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Melody what are the biggest moments that have shaped your decision making process and why?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@ems_hodge sometimes they're prompted externally, by a conversation with an engineer, support person or board member. Sometimes they're from just obsessing about stuff night and day. I dream about the company and customer experience sometimes and I'll think about a different way to approach something than I'd considered before.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Hi @melodymcc! What other marketplaces do you think could most benefit from a better scheduling service? And, do you wish there was a better personal calendar app / service? Thanks!
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@alexcartaz yes! Hmm, all of them. The problem is that people's schedules are tracked across multiple services or in their heads. I think it's more about your preferences and calendar being able to speak to everyone elses, than a universal calendar.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What Q would you ask YOURSELF if you were hypothetically not yourself but knew yourself.....!
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@eriktorenberg I'd be all who does your hair? JK.
Pete Huang
Pete Huang@petejayhuang · Product Manager
Tip for guys to becoming more beautiful?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@petejayhuang ha ha work out, eat healthy, do things you love, learn. Find a great hairstylist/barber and grooming people.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What's upcoming? What can you plug about Styleseat that we should all look forward to?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@eriktorenberg we have so many consumer features coming out soon. Making it easier to book, giving you a reason to book more often and to get your friends to book with their stylists, tons of content, tons of easier ways to find someone amazing
Melissa Joy Kong
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
Hi Melody! What key 3-5 moments in your life have most shaped the person you are today?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@melissajoykong ooh. Almost not being able to raise a round early on. Feeling that fire of (almost) failure has definitely shaped me. Dropping C++ class in high school because I was intimidated about being the only girl in the class, despite being vp of the computer club. So dumb.
What has been your proudest moment during StyleSeat's life?
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
@olavgm man, looking at my team. We do a monday morning product meeting in the am each week and each group showcases what they're working on, metrics, conclusions and next steps. It's so fun to see people slay, and build meaningful stuff for our community!
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Melody - thank you so much for joining us all today and sharing your insight and experience with the group. I think I speak for everyone here in thanking you for spending your time with us today. 🙌
Melody McCloskey
Melody McCloskey@melodymcc · CEO, StyleSeat
Also if you are incredibly talented join our team! www.styleseat.com/jobs