When Dr. Tye and Courtney Caldwell discovered that 40% of salon and barbershop space goes unused every day, they knew they had an opportunity on their hands. As award-winning salon owners, the husband-and-wife duo saw a business in filling empty salon seats by connecting fellow salon owners with independent stylists looking to find professional space to work. At first, the Caldwells acted as personal matchmakers between salon owners and stylists, but, after building an app, they’re now able to fill seats in more than 400 cities worldwide. With ShearShare, salon and barbershop owners can triple their revenue by filling their unused space by the day, and stylists can save in overhead costs that can force owners to close their businesses. “ShearShare helps keep our brick-and-mortar businesses open,” said Courtney.
Google technology was essential in building the ShearShare app. The team used Google’s tools to enable in-app messaging and location services. “Location is very important to the stylist when they’re looking to rent space,” Dr. Tye said. And to reach more people searching for space to work by the day, ShearShare uses Google Ads. “About 30% of our users come to us through Google,” said Courtney. “It’s our lowest cost-per-acquisition channel online.” To raise the funding necessary to grow their business after bootstrapping for two years, the Caldwells were nominated and selected to pitch investors at Google Demo Day in San Francisco. There, the Google for Startups team helped them hone their story via hands-on mentorship and coaching. They ultimately won the Judges’ Favorite award and secured funding on the spot. “We’re excited to be the first Texas startup to win Google Demo Day,” said Dr. Tye. “Google has been a huge advocate for ShearShare, and we’re huge advocates for Google.”
Since launching in 2016, ShearShare has experienced 184% year-over-year revenue growth. The number of businesses on the app has grown by 144%, while revenue per stylist has grown 30% year over year. Having learned so much as successful entrepreneurs, the Caldwells pay it forward by educating others. They are both part of university boards, cosmetology school advisory boards, and civic councils across Texas, and they serve as judges at local hackathons each month. “We know the importance of serving as a model for students who have a love for tech and beauty and barbering,” said Courtney. Moving forward, the Caldwells plan to increase their Google Ads budget to reach even more owners and stylists in an effort to become the biggest B2B ecosystem for beauty and barbering professionals. “We’re cracking the code for people who really want to maximize their earnings potential in an industry that is continuously changing,” concluded Dr. Tye.
Blanco Hood Cleaning
Blanco Hood Cleaning serves 100 customers annually
For Juan Blanco, keeping kitchens clean is a big deal. Not only has it been his livelihood for the last 15 years, it’s also been a way to help professional kitchens prevent dangerous grease fires in their exhaust systems. Juan worked for other people until 2014, when a growing family convinced him to make a move. That year, he ventured out on his own, opening Blanco Hood Cleaning. “I was afraid to go out on my own,” he said. “When I started, I was doing everything. The hard part was getting new jobs — I was knocking door to door, and it was very tiring.” Looking for ways to spread the word about his new business, Juan started working with Google to build a website and advertise with Google Ads. “That’s when my company made a big jump,” said Juan. “I started doing everything online — that’s where we get most of our customers.”
Today, Blanco Hood Cleaning uses Google Ads to get in front of potential customers who are searching for hood cleaners or similar services. “We’re getting 90% of our customers from Google Ads,” said Juan. The company runs Google Ads campaigns in both English and Spanish and dedicates 100% of its marketing budget to digital advertising. Blanco Hood Cleaning also uses Google My Business to further boost visibility on Google Search and relies heavily on G Suite tools like Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Calendar.“
With G Suite, I get my professional email address linked to my company name,” said Juan. “I use Calendar to schedule jobs and to set reminders for bi-monthly, quarterly, and annual cleanings.” When asked what advice he’d give to someone trying to start their own business in 2019, Juan said, “I would advise them to get a webpage, open a Google Ads account, and just be online.”
There are a lot of greasy kitchens out there, and business has been good for Blanco Hood Cleaning. Since turning to Google and digital, the company has experienced a three-times increase in revenue. Juan plans to use the money to add one truck per year to his fleet of vehicles and to focus more on managing the business he loves so dearly. “I love when a customer says that they’re happy, and that we’ve made their dirty kitchen new again,” he said. But what fills Juan with the most pride is accomplishing his original goal when founding Blanco Hood Cleaning: the ability to provide for his wife and two young children. “They’re who inspired me to start my business,” said Juan.
Siete Family Foods
Veronica Garza grew up in a family of seven. Although it was a big family, it was also a very close one. As a teenager, she was diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune condition, her whole family was there for her. They all began to exercise together. When her brother suggested adopting a low-inflammation, grain-free diet, they all went on the diet. These things helped Veronica, but there were sacrifices, like having to give up some of the Mexican foods the family loved. “Grain-free was a solution to her health, but it meant saying goodbye to a part of our culture,” said Miguel Garza, CEO of Siete Family Foods. One day, missing her beloved tortillas, Veronica made grain-free tortillas using almond flour and served them to her family. They loved them. Her grandmother told her that they tasted better than the ones she’d been making for decades. The Garzas knew that if their grandmother approved, others would, too. In 2014, they launched Siete Family Foods, named for their family of seven.
Siete Family Foods started selling its products at a small co-op in Austin and began shipping its food directly to consumers later that year. “It’s hard to convince retailers to carry a product that’s different, new, and not from an established brand,” said Miguel. “It’s also difficult to make consumers aware of you, so using digital was an important part of building awareness for Siete early on.” Today, the company uses Google Ads to boost sales and better reach health-conscious consumers online. “As a small food brand trying to solve a specific problem, our demographic wasn’t regionalized — it’s a niche consumer who exists almost everywhere,” Miguel said. With Google Ads, Siete Family Foods can make itself known nationwide to those who are searching for grain-free foods and other healthy diet alternatives. The company also uses G Suite tools and Google Analytics to monitor its campaigns and learn more about its audience.
Siete Family Foods has grown to 40 employees, but at its heart, it remains a family business, filled with warmth and spirit. That is evident in its recently launched YouTube series, where musical guests perform and discuss their musical journeys over lunch. The videos reflect the brand’s desire to have a positive impact on its customers and their families. “Businesses should be looking to add value to their customers’ lives in whatever way they can,” said Miguel. Moving forward, the Garzas want to continue building brand awareness and keep solving problems for people like Veronica with unique health situations. “Growth is a big driver for us, but it has to be the right kind of growth,” said Miguel.
Sugar Land, Texas
As the nation’s leading importer of organic, Fair Trade-certified, non-GMO sugars, agaves, and honeys, Wholesome Sweeteners is a small company making a big impact. “Doing good is essential to everything we do,” says Director of Marketing Sarah Miller. Founded in 2001, when organic and Fair Trade sugars were unheard of in North America, they started out with three simple products: organic sugar, raw sugar, and molasses. They have branched out into value-added products, including Organic Frostings and their allergy-free candy brand, Surf Sweets. Today, Wholesome is a leader in both the retail and bulk ingredient arenas—you can find Wholesome ingredients in popular organic teas, cereals, sodas, and more. “Wholesome is everywhere,” says Sarah. And wherever they go, they bring a strong set of values. “We don’t compromise on delivering absolutely delicious products and doing it in an ethical way,” she adds.
To share their message with a wider audience, Wholesome Sweeteners leverages the power of the Internet. They use Google tools to broadcast and distribute their unique offerings in more targeted ways. “We just launched a video on YouTube about our pesticide-free Organic Honey, and how we protect our supply chain from hives to shelves. It really helps us tell our story in a succinct way,” Sarah explains. To reach customers directly, half of their marketing budget goes to digital, including AdWords, Google’s advertising program. They work with a wide suite of Google products, from DoubleClick, to Tag Manager, to Analytics, all of which help them optimize their online presence and boost e-commerce sales. “Through Google’s multiple tools, you can prove that your advertising efforts drive sales, solving the marketer’s dilemma—this is the Holy Grail,” says Sarah.
Seeing the company’s impact is meaningful for Sarah. Her passion comes from their strong commitment to the environment and the wellbeing of farmers they work with around the world. They pay additional Fair Trade premiums to their farmers to invest in schools, healthcare, and other means for improving their lives. “So many global farmers live in poverty,” Sarah notes. “By paying additional Fair Trade premiums, we can help them rise out of that.” Wholesome Sweeteners’ mission also includes their local community, where they support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, clean oceans, animal rescue, and families in need. In the future, Sarah hopes to bring even more awareness to the goodness of their products. “We’d love to make our organic products more accessible to all Americans.”