AWS Startups Blog

Bringing the Beauty Industry into the Digital Age with Slick Co-Founder Matt Millar

The ability to easily make reservations online for goods and services may seem ubiquitous, but many industries have not yet found the technology to match their needs. When Matt Millar and his colleagues found that 70% of the beauty industry was still running on pen and paper, he and his partners founded Slick, a salon management platform that helps hair and beauty professionals book appointments, manage calendars, and save money.

In Slick’s view, the biggest challenge facing beauty industry professionals today is managing complicated calendars across multiple employees and services. Providing customers with an easy way to book multiple services with different stylists is just one of the things Slick does to take the beauty industry into the modern world.

“The other thing a salon needs is to keep themselves busy all the time,” Millar explains. “If there’s nobody there, they’re not earning any money. So they need to be able to schedule that tightly and make sure they don’t leave any gaps.”

By addressing this key need in the salon management community, Millar and his team took an idea that might seem simple to some—online booking and calendar maintenance—and helped make the industry smarter, faster, and more integrated.

“I think one of the biggest revelations to us is the simple delight that people get just moving from pen and paper to digital,” says Millar. “The fact that they can now access their book that tells them what they’re doing from home, or from their phone when they’re not at the salon; there’s a real simple delight that maybe you forget if you’re used to being digital.”

But Slick’s software goes far beyond calendars and bookings. Millar and his team also help salon managers quickly estimate how much money they’ll be making in a given day without having to rely on penciled-in notebooks across multiple columns.

“If you’ve got to [call] when the salon’s working, and then somebody’s got to stop cutting hair, answer the phone, and write in the paper book: that’s not going to grow the industry. So we need to shift that experience to online,” Millar explains. After Slick helps shift business to the web, potential salon customers are able to find new services and book all while enjoying a simple, intuitive online experience.

Once Slick’s software has met a salon’s most basic needs, they’re then able to go even deeper in addressing specific needs and concerns. “We can start to give them guidance,” Millar says. “For example, maybe I’ve got some empty slots coming up in two days’ time—how do I look at the people who are waiting for things here? How do I chase people that are looking to come in to make sure that they are coming in?”

Before Slick, these tools had not been widely available in the salon industry, and they’ve proven so fundamental that adjacent industries facing the same challenges have begun to take notice. “What we’re actually finding is we built our platform to be very flexible, and we’re finding that customers are discovering us. New segments are discovering us. So we have tattoo parlors, photography studios, dog grooming. There’s a whole set of industries that have the same challenges.”

The final piece of Slick’s success puzzle is a new and innovative way of charging their customers, which allows Slick to grow alongside the businesses it serves.

“We charge salons based on basically their chargeable staff,” Millar explains. “The first two [stylists] are free. As you start to grow your business—and we can help you do that in terms of helping you get more bookings and customers—then you add more stylists that will be earning for you, and then you start to pay us.”

By creating a technologically driven company focused on simple, elegant solutions, Millar and his partners have made the salon industry faster and more efficient in just a few short years. And while he and his team are currently maintaining a laser focus on beauty and hair, it’s clear that Slick’s simple, easy-to-use software has applications well outside those industries.

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung currently works in startup content at AWS and was previously the head of content at Index Ventures. Prior to joining the corporate world, Michelle was a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, the founding Business Editor at the Huffington Post, a correspondent for The Boston Globe, a columnist for Publisher’s Weekly and a writer at Entertainment Weekly.