A new startup, Vive, gives women exactly what they want: unlimited blowouts — basically a super thorough blow-dry for your hair — on demand.
Vive, which is currently in private beta in New York City, offers a subscription-based service centered around unlimited blowouts. That includes a wash and dry, but no haircuts or colouring.
Professional blowouts are intended to make your hair look as sleek and smooth as possible. You might get one before, say, your sorority’s formal or your friend’s wedding. You can do it yourself at home, but it probably won’t look as good, and will take forever to do. Places like blowout startup Drybar charge $US45 per blowout, though you can find salons in New York City who do it for closer to $US25 a pop.
Which makes it all the more incredible that Vive offers its services for only $US99 per month. It pays for itself after about 3 appointments, though you’re encouraged to include an $US8-$US10 tip as well — so what you’re really getting for $US99 a month is $US10 blowouts.
Think of Vive like the ClassPass for blowouts: an all-you-can-eat service that lets you get your hair done as often as you want. (Of course, “as often as you want” comes with limits — it’s probably not great for your hair to be blow-dried at high temperatures every day).
Classpass is a break-out, $US400 million New York startup that’s earned a reported $US60 million run rate by bundling up small business fitness services. ClassPass works with a number of fitness classes to create a $US125-per-month gym-like memberships, allowing customers to studio-hop.
Vive is a first of many likely Classpass spinoffs, which will try to benefit from bundling tons of local offerings together.
Vive went through Y Combinator this year, presenting at Demo Day in August. “Y Cominator really helped us make a lot of operational updates to our model,” founder and CEO Alanna Gregory told Business Insider. “Most of the audience [at Demo Day] came away knowing what a blowout is. I feel like I run a blowout awareness campaign.”
Gregory says that since its launch in April, Vive has completed 10,000 blowout appointments. 50% of appointments on Vive are booked in 12 hours prior to the time of the appointment, so it’s good for times when you want to get an appointment last-minute.
What it’s like to use
I’ve been using Vive for the past five weeks. I have unruly, curly hair, and it’s too much work to blow it out myself or straighten it five days a week. So I signed up for Vive’s waitlist this summer, and about a month later, I got an email letting me know I was accepted into Vive’s beta program.
My biggest complaint about Vive is that it’s only available via browser or mobile browser. There’s no app yet, though the company says it’s launching one soon.
That said, the website is easy to navigate, and the startup makes it easy to set up an appointment.
Here’s what it looks like when you book your appointment.
You get a confirmation email and a text message when you book your appointment, and then once more when your appointment is confirmed (I’ve had appointments booked within 2 minutes, and others booked as long as 15 minutes after making my appointment. Either way, it’s pretty much on-demand). You can book an appointment for that day, or for a week from now.
The service itself is no different than going to a salon and having an appointment if you weren’t signed up with Vive. You go, tell them your name, get your blowout, and leave a tip at the end. You don’t pay because the cost of the service is included in your monthly $US99.
Having to leave a tip is the only annoying part of the Vive experience. One of the best things about Uber is that you don’t have to leave a tip — it makes your black car ride experience seamless and eliminates a huge pain point. When you’re paying $US10 for each blowout on top of the monthly $US99 cost, it can add up, especially if you’re trying to get your money’s worth out of the monthly cost. I don’t typically carry cash on me either, so having to stop by an ATM in the morning on my way to my blowout is kind of a pain.
I’ve been averaging 1 to 2 blowouts a week, and in total, I’ve had roughly 10 blowouts through Vive (Anything more than that would probably not be good for my hair). But blowouts last for several days, so if you get a blowout on a Tuesday and again on Friday, you’re pretty much set for the week, and don’t have to worry too much about doing your own hair.
In this way, my behaviour has completely shifted. Instead of waking up an hour early to wash, dry, and straighten my hair, I can head to the salon and check a bunch of my emails and actually get some work done, and get my hair done at the same time.
Vive is great for salon discovery — I’ve found a couple great salons a block away from Business Insider’s office that I never would have visited without Vive.
That said, there’s no way to request a salon. You’re at the mercy of Vive’s algorithms, which place you at a salon that has open availability at the time you’ve requested your appointment.
Is Vive worth it? If you can shell out $US99 a month, along with the cost of tips for each blowout, then yes, it’s a service well worth the money. I don’t plan on cancelling my membership anytime soon.