Dave Salvant is an African-American entrepreneur known for his barbershop booking website, Squire. Most people know him for his bold move from the corporate world to venture into the unstable business sector.
Early Life and Schooling
Salvant grew up in Coney Island and Rockland County, in the suburbs of New York. He did his undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of Albany. Afterward, Salvant pursued a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He graduated in 2015 with an MBA in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking.
Due to the current bias and mentality that people have about African American males, Salvant states,
“My job, my sole job right now, is to be successful so that when people see an African American man, they won’t form an opinion. As a pioneer, you have to be so excellent and so good. You just have to succeed; you have to. Not only am I seen as succeeding for myself, but I’m also seen as succeeding for the people coming behind me, and that’s equally as important, if not more.”
Salvant has done his share of jobs in his early career. He joined Infogroup in 2008 and worked as an account manager for one year and four months. He then shifted to JP Morgan in March 2010, where he was a private client banker. His third job was in AXA US, where he was a senior regional sales associate. This was his longest job position since he maintained it for two years and ten months.
Salvant and his co-founder left their corporate jobs to seize the opportunities ahead of them in the tech world. Though the jobs did not have any direct link to the business, he used his savings and client management skills to help develop a platform for a better customer and barber experience. He also pursued the idea to enable him to stick to a career that would satisfy him. One of his main cheerleaders was his mom, who always encouraged him to do what brought him the greatest joy.
“Listen, luckily, I have a strong mom; she’s a strong support system. My mother would have been totally happy if I was a construction worker or a teacher as long as I was doing what I love. She’s supported me in so many ways, and I am really grateful for that – she always supported my ideas and my dreams.”
Squire’s Growth Journey
Dave Salvant met his co-founder when they were in their twenties, and they instantly became friends. By 2015, they had seen online restaurant booking systems progress and got interested in the field. They decided to venture into the business world and create a similar platform. However, as African American men, they decided to lean into the barbershop sector since it was an essential part of their culture. They saw it as an opportunity to grow this field and make it more efficient and productive.
Since the two didn’t have tech knowledge, they incorporated the help of Yas Tabasam, a young tech expert they met in New York. However, Tabasam left the company two years later to follow his dreams. Marketing and effecting their idea was a difficult journey. The duo had to do person-to-person advertisements that even got them kicked out of barbershops. They had very few clients, and some even made double bookings which brought more chaos to the businesses.
Dave and his partner LaRon decided to invest in a barbershop to learn about the venture’s day-to-day operations. They did everything except cut the hair. Though it was a gamble, it paid off in the long run as they developed new strategies and adjustments necessary for their app. They realized that they had to create something that could handle everything from booking an appointment, making payments, renting chairs and facilities, adjusting each barber’s schedule, and other minor details.
“It was in Chelsea Market. It served as a kind of test kitchen, so to speak, to test our software, and figure out what our customers wanted. So, it is great to have firsthand experience on how to operate a Barbershop and then build products and services that would work. That is something we might get into again in the future, but it was a great experience.”
Currently, the Blackfounder app helps business owners to run their operations smoothly. Squire sells its services to over 2800 barbershops in Canada, the UK, and the United States. Each shop has a monthly subscription of between $100 and $250. The software can get customized according to the client’s desire and helps them manage chair renting, dividing the payouts to different barbers in the shop, and scheduling clients for each barber. The company has 24 investors and a total of $167.1 million in funding. Their last funding round was in July 2021, where they did a Series D funding.
“Being an entrepreneur and being an artist are similar. You are creating something that doesn’t exist and bringing it into the world.”
Leadership Roles & Awards
In 2014, Dave got an award from the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Merit-Based Fellowship. This was an inspiration to promote diversity in business education among African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans.
Salvant also participates in many forums to encourage young African Americans to pursue their dreams and invest in their passion. He perceives himself as a torch bearer who shows others that it is possible to attain such levels of greatness.
The life of Dave Salvant is an inspiration to many African Americans for them to arise and create what the world does not have. He is also part of our Blackexcellence series. Once you find a market gap, you need to pursue and become a pioneer in that sector.
Dave Salvant is part of our Black Founders50 Series. Download the complete 2023 BBVA Founders50 list here.