“I’M UP FOR the challenge.” That’s what Kim Ng, a graduate of the Business Administration — Entrepreneurship and Small Business diploma program, says when discussing the journey of starting, growing and running her tech startup, BEAUT. She had to overcome other challenges first.
“I dropped out of school when I was 13. Even though I wasn’t aware of my learning disabilities at the time, and everyone else — including my parents — felt I wasn’t trying hard enough, I knew that I was capable, ” she recalls. “I merely learned in different ways.”
Kim’s family immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong in 1993. While the family’s focus on academic excellence was easier to navigate for her two younger brothers — both of whom graduated from university — Kim sought another way.
Away from school and in search of her future, Kim discovered hairdressing. She would spend more than 15 years honing her techniques in Toronto, Hong Kong, Sydney and Australia at major beauty brands like Toni & Guy and L’Oréal.
During her time abroad, something caught her attention: Not all hairdressers were equally skilled, and customers were unable to assess a hairdresser’s skills until they visited the salon for a haircut. This realization led her to create BEAUT.
“Many people step into the hair salon and hope to get the best haircut,” she says. “Why should they have to hope?”
As a mobile application, BEAUT simplifies and streamlines the experience by connecting a client to professional hairdressers, stylists and makeup artists. It provides the client a visual presentation of a professional’s portfolio and ranks the professionals based on the client’s location and style preferences. It’s currently available for iOS devices, with an Android version being developed.
With nearly 75 per cent of Toronto salons charging more than $40 for a regular haircut, Kim says BEAUT provides a well-needed service.
“You should know what you are getting into, especially with your haircut. You can return and refund an iPhone, but you can’t uncut your hair.”
For many hairdressers like Kim, starting their own business is an aspiration that’s often difficult to achieve due to a lack of the necessary business knowledge, skills or funds.
Kim knew she had to return to school, and she chose Seneca — where she was informed of her learning disabilities during her first year — for the essentials she’d need to move her business forward. She also worked with Seneca’s on-campus incubator HELIX which provided resources like workshops, mentorship and networking opportunities, all of which Kim used to build and refine BEAUT.