Carmel-based tech startup shifts strategy

In startup circles, it’s called pivoting.

As important as business planning is, the path to success is rarely without obstacles—or opportunities. Savvy entrepreneurs recognize that and adjust along the way.

Take the web service local tech veterans Danielle McDowell and Janell Shaffer debuted early last year. Carmel-based MyBestFriendsHair.com started as a consumer review site for hairstylists. This month, they rebranded and relaunched the site at JadaBeauty.com with an emphasis on selling salon-quality products.

McDowell said research and customer feedback help the partners identify an unmet need: Although it’s increasingly common for stylists to eschew the traditional commission-based positions to go it alone, they rarely have the resources (or space) to keep products on hand for clients.

Enter Jada Beauty, which allows stylists to e-mail clients a “hairscription” for specific products—and a link to buy it on the site. A portion of each sale goes to the referring stylist or an education fund, which McDowell said will help pay for online professional development modules.

As more hair professionals strike out on their own—a 2011 study predicts half of all salons will rent booths to independent stylists within two years—Jada Beauty should be poised to serve the growing market, McDowell said.

The partners haven't shifted away from the original matchmaking idea, which remains an element of the new site, but they saw an opportunity and followed it.

What pivot points have you encountered, and how did you respond?
 

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