Born in the barber’s chair, Kansas City-based ScheduleMe could take more than a little off the top for service-based retailers. The startup plans to use artificial intelligence to groom the haphazard scheduling process entirely, its co-founders said.
“We discovered that [our barbershop] was having issues with scheduling. What we wanted to do was try to use our backgrounds in data science and artificial intelligence to solve that problem for them,” said Saad Janjua, who co-founded the company alongside Carolyne Gakuria in August 2018.
“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is optimize time,” Gakuria added, noting the benefits of data science in developing time management.
So far, 10 barbers have joined the company’s beta program — each quickly taking note of results, Janjua said of the immediate response to the ScheduleMe platform, which evaluates peak times for service and helps to steadily auto-schedule customers throughout the workday, ensuring barbers’ chairs are never empty and customers aren’t tasked with playing a waiting game, he explained.
“We’re able to optimize their schedules for them and they’ve been really receptive to that,” he elaborated. “We’ve interviewed 20-plus barbers in the KCMO area already [who are excited by the product’s features].”
Beyond filling appointment books, ScheduleMe also helps barbershops with marketing: one of the many ways the platform — which is built and managed entirely in-house — could find ease in scaling, the co-founders said.
“We’ve been approached by other startups to help them in their technology efforts, specifically, as well as product development,” Janjua said of emerging opportunities for growth. “I think for us this is a great start because we can bring that knowledge base back to Kansas City and grow organically.”
Key components in the first-time entrepreneurs’ startup growth: Grabbing coffee with representatives from LaunchCode and resources offered by the Regnier Institute at the UMKC Bloch School, Janjua was quick to note.
“It all started [with LaunchCode]. We got our roadmap and from there … onwards,” he explained. “We have some board members that came out of the Bloch school and [a lot of help comes mostly from] the Bloch School and Venture Hub.”
Janjua and Gakuria found the Reigner Institute to be a great resource match that could fuel their coding skills, despite not being students at UMKC, Gakuria explained.
“We actually have professional day jobs … we just had a passion for data and we just wondered what can we do with this code? We have the knowledge base. What can we do to help address problems, local to the market,” she elaborated of her and Janjua’s early-stage questions.
Click here for more on how the Regnier Institute and UMKC are working to fuel the Kansas City startup ecosystem.
Although ScheduleMe is in its infancy, the co-founders are optimistic about the weight it could hold in Kansas City’s growing A.I. space, they hinted.
“We are a tech company in Kansas City, I think it’s important to highlight that, right? Because we don’t see a lot of that coming up,” Gakuria said, excited about ScheduleMe’s role in increasing the metro’s tech footprint.
Beyond the barbershop, the pair hopes to use their skills in coding, A.I. and data science to lend help to other area startups, Janura said.
“In the future, we want to play more of a leading role,” he said.
Connecting with other startups and collaborating to build a tech ecosystem is an amazing opportunity for ScheduleMe to impact Kansas City — no matter the size of the company, Gakuria said.