I’m shutting down Snip. Here’s why.

About a week ago I made the decision to put a bullet in Snip after almost five years of effort. There wasn’t one big event that caused me to make the decision. It was a number of realizations that built up over time, and then one day a certain customer cancelled and that was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I had had a level of success with a PPC campaign I had started in late spring, but eventually the PPC campaign inexplicably fizzled and most of the customers I “won” via the PPC campaign didn’t actually end up completing their trial periods. The success was mostly an illusion. It was the day that one of these customers cancelled that I started seriously pondering the idea of shutting down the business.

Here are some of the challenges the salon market presents:

  • Unlike developers, designers and other office workers, stylists and salon owners aren’t on the computer all day. They do use smartphones, but not nearly in the same way we use computers. This makes it hard to reach them.
  • Salon owners have a competitive scarcity mindset. They guard their “secrets”. There aren’t local salon owner meetups. Therefore, there’s little opportunity for referrals.
  • Salon owners usually don’t view themselves as business owners. They’re technicians who happen to be in possession of a business. Most of them also seem to have an expense mindset as opposed to an investment mindset, which is of course an obstacle to selling.
  • Stylists and salon owners are very averse to talking with salespeople on the phone. Most of them don’t really seem to use email in my experience, and in fact many of them don’t even HAVE email. Again, hard to reach.
  • I’m not a domain expert in the beauty industry. I don’t want to be, and I’m never going to be. I can’t build an audience of fans.
  • What I already do for money (programming) has nothing to do with the beauty industry. My product doesn’t feed my service business and my service doesn’t feed my product business.
  • Salons open and close like crazy. I lost a customer recently¬†because they just opened their salon and they failed to get it off the ground. High turnover means high churn.

Of course no market is going to be without challenges, but this one seems particularly challenge-laden. I don’t seem to have above-average entrepreneurial aptitude (as I’ve painfully come to realize over the last seven years of failure). I probably shouldn’t be taking a shot at business success with one arm tied behind my back.

I’m going to take another stab at building a successful product business. This next one will be the seventh attempt. Here’s what I’ll do differently:

  • Pick a product that synergizes with what I already do for money, programming
  • Pick a market that spends a lot of time online, searching for solutions to problems
  • Pick a market in which I can build an audience that cares about things I have to say
  • Pick a market that has money and can pay $X00/mo, not $X0/mo
  • Pick a market that has a problem that can be solved with a relatively simple product that won’t take forever to build
  • Detect the demand first, then build the list, then sell the product, then build the product (or something roughly like that)

Or at least I’ll pick an idea that meets most of those criteria.

I’ve already started researching and brainstorming for my next idea. I’m open to any ideas anyone might have. Wish me luck.

17 thoughts on “I’m shutting down Snip. Here’s why.

  1. E

    I think Snip could still have worked with a referrals only revenue model instead of being a saas product.

    Customers still love to be able to book appointments and be sure that there will be no line at the salon when they arrive. If Snip had been free to stylists allowing you to build up a massive address book of stylists and salon that could be useful and then you were able to direct customers to stylists and salons in their area by essentially arbitraging traffic off of google, facebook, etc – then what you would have built is a strong referral network system with stylists plugged in. Overtime the stylists can monetize priority listing in the system etc.

    I think you tried to use a salesforce business model for an Open table business and it didn’t work.

    1. Jason Post author

      Hey E, interesting idea. Believe it or not, I did a survey of my customers asking if they would like me to add the ability for clients to book their own appointments. To my surprise it was an across-the-board adamant NO. They had a number of reasons which actually made sense. The other challenge with that idea is, sadly, most salon owners don’t give a fuck about deliberately growing their business. The very easiest way to grow your salon business is through prebooking (asking clients to book their next appointment when they leave) and most salons don’t even do that. Basically leaving free money on the table.

  2. Nate

    I have a need at my job and there are solutions but they seem inflated in price and offer so many options that they seem confusing. Here’s what we need. An online project list tied into a group calendar. A way to leave comments inside each job. And a few other things would be nice. It seems so simple and it needs to be, but I haven’t seen anything like it that’s reasonably priced.

  3. Uzo

    I’m torn between being sorry about the conclusion to the Snip chapter or excited to see the next chapter you’ll be opening

  4. Sunday

    The first part was a bit shocking(I am closing down Snip), but the reason is more than justified. Realising what was going wrong, and what will be different on the next one is a win. Thumbs up and GoodLuck.

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  7. Kevin Taylor

    Jason, saddened to hear your closing down snip, I was rooting for you on this one, I always felt that if you could have compressed 5 years of learning into say just 1 year you would have made a success of snip, it always felt like slow progress, good luck with your next product and I will be rooting for you. Regards, Kevin.

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