Avi Shenkar – Founder of BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar

[quote style=”boxed”]If I were to start again I would have stuck out some of my endeavors that I killed earlier on. When I was younger I had a web design firm that was doing well until the Internet crash. I would have stuck out the tech industry and continued on to developing applications and more intense web startups.[/quote]

Avi Shenkar is less a serial entrepreneur and more a disruptive businessman. Avi, a native of Israel, came to the United States at the age of nine, and he’s been living the American dream ever since. Outside of an internship he held while attending Drexel University, he swears he’s never had a boss. With a successful background in the financial and technology sectors, Avi’s experience is vast when it comes to management, business development, tech, and public relations.

BLO/OUT® Blow Dry Bar, Avi’s latest successful venture came about by accident. Avi had been invited to partner in a full-service salon, but while doing his research, he discovered the growing trend of blow dry bars popping up in New York, Miami and LA. These new salons don’t offer cuts. They don’t do color. Only blow outs. For a nominal fee, women enjoy a luxury that makes them look and feel great.

When a conservative banker friend expressed excitement at the idea, Avi knew the concept was a winner. He raised the necessary funds, studied the beauty business, and hired experts in the field. BLO/OUT currently has two locations (Huntingdon Valley & Rittenhouse Square) with three new locations under development in Washington Square, Bryn Mawr and Atlantic City.

What are you working on right now?

I am the founder of BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar in Philadelphia and I am working on additional locations, integrating our On Demand Room Service BLO/OUT with local hotels and building our franchise division.

Where did the idea for BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar come from?

I was asked to invest in a full service salon and upon researching the industry I learned about the blow dry bar concept and decided to go with it full strength.

How do you make money?

I make money like any other service based business. Clients come to us for BLO/OUTs, our trained stylists provide an awesome service and receive compensation for it. I own a large share of our corporations along with investors and dividends are paid out monthly.

What does your typical day look like?

I wake up as early as 5am, spend a few minutes cuddling with my soon to be wife and killer Pomeranian, get dressed, get some coffee in me and make it down to our downtown Philadelphia location in time for opening at 7am. I check the books, the inventory and make sure there aren’t any technical difficulties.

I then take a ride out to our Huntingdon Valley location and go through the same checklist. I meet with my management team, interact with the media and our social media channels and make a checklist of things I must complete the following day.

I end the day with checking the traffic patterns at our locations and working on the next locations, usually falling asleep by 1am.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I brainstorm quite a bit with my teams, my friends and family and ultimately I look for a general consensus and approval. Once the feedback comes in positive I begin the process of researching, fund raising and execution.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Currently the blow dry bar industry excites me more than anything else. It was a trend initially however its in the process of becoming a mainstay and an affordable luxury that women are beginning to not be able to go without.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I had was a corporate position at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals doing SAP programing work. I realized how much I dislike the corporate culture, atmosphere and regulations.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I were to start again I would have stuck out some of my endeavors that I killed earlier on. When I was younger I had a web design firm that was doing well until the Internet crash. I would have stuck out the tech industry and continued on to developing applications and more intense web startups.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Customer service, customer service, customer service. My clients are the most important part of our business. Treating them like gold is my number one rule. Otherwise, hard work, long hours, and leading by example are the most important characteristics of being an entrepreneur.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Prior to BLO/OUT I started a web company offering daily deals like Groupon or Living Social specific to the dining and entertainment industry. The company failed because the market quickly became saturated and the amount of funding that was necessary to succeed was very difficult to come by.

I ended up selling the technology and moving on. It was a hard hit given the amount I personally invested in it along with friends and family. However, it taught me that the cost of acquiring clients should never be as high as that concept required.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

The one idea I’m willing to give away is one that I would have loved to do given the time. A Cannoli bar! Yes a cannoli bar! There are cupcake shops opening up on every corner of every city, why be limited to cupcakes? I love cannoli’s as I’m sure many people do. Imagine a place with custom cannoli’s and gourmet cannoli’s. Bakeries and businesses catering to specific niches of every industry are becoming the go to shops.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I would change education. I would get rid of professors that teach from theory and replace them all with real life entrepreneurs and business owners that had to learn the hard way.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

Very few people know that I enjoy doing dishes. It’s my form of meditation.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

1. Facebook: The instant sharing of information and ease of surveying
2. IFTTT (if this then that): Automated distribution of information and images to multiple channels
3. Instagram: Sharing images of our work and fun times at the shops

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It showed me that there are bigger things in play that allow some successes and some failures.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

1. James Altucher, he’s funny, entertaining, and smart.
2. Rev Run – always motivating and positive
3. Jonah Hill – always funny

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Last night. Playing with my nephews, we were flying a “hairplane” (their pronunciation), I was the pilot and my nephews were my co-pilots. They kept falling off the hairplane.

Who is your hero?

My father. He can fix anything (or try) and he’s always done anything necessary to keep his family happy and healthy.

Why the hair styling industry?

It’s an industry that has not had much change over the years. People have become accustomed to mediocre service, egotistical stylists, high prices and drama.

What makes you a successful operator of BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar?

I’m not a hair stylist, therefore I know nothing about the art. However, I know plenty about business, people management, public relations, and business development. The fact that I am not a hairstylist allows me to see things from a different angle, figure out what’s not working with the industry and make the changes necessary to allow for smooth, expedient growth.


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