"TRIM-IT is an award-winning upcoming barbering app, bringing convenience and saving you time waiting in long barber/salon queues through their live appointments booking system. TRIM-IT also rewards your loyalty with amazing freebies and money off your haircuts. It can also help you locate the best barber who fits your needs exactly in terms of price, distance and working hours, just imagine a 'Just-Eat' for barbers where you can book appointments on the app and get amazing rewards"
I had a chat with Nana Darko, co-founder of TRIM-IT to find out more about him and the brand.
JF: Tell the readers a little about yourself.
ND: My name is Nana Darko and I am 22 years old. If you have not already guessed from my name, I am Ghanaian and was raised in South London. I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sussex and graduated with a First Class.
JF: Fantastic. So we met during university a few years ago now and I can honestly say your work rate definitely inspired me, so why don’t you tell us a little bit about your academic experience.
ND: Prior to going to university, I did not have a set career path. I made sure I studied a course that would give me the necessary skills to ultimately do anything. I mean, with my degree, I can go into anything from marketing to banking and finance. I must admit that the journey was not easy! In first year, I used to go to the library because I knew girls would be there (laughs). I would put in shifts from 9pm to around 3am but only study seriously for 2 hours. I came to realise that those uninterrupted 2 hours were vital in me getting good grades. I ultimately killed two birds with one stone, seeing girls in the library but also doing pretty well academically.
JF: Congratulations on achieving your first class! Expanding on your last response, do you have any tips for students?
ND: For students studying Mechanical Engineering, honestly, you need friends – good friends that will keep you in check! I met a guy called Hussein in first year and we worked together non-stop! You need someone that is dedicated. Hussein would be up studying in Richmond (the Engineering building) from 8am until 3am. He kept me in check and as a result, these habits rubbed off on me.
JF: The scripture iron sharpens iron comes to mind. (Proverbs 27:17)
ND: Most definitely. I made sure that I was keeping up with him, developing my knowledge and ensuring that we were both meeting our personal targets. For all students, particularly those in university – make the most of it! I joined societies, travelled to other cities, partied in other cities, set up an entertainment company with my friends, I mean, we just had fun! With regards to my work on campus, I was president of the African Caribbean Society (ACS), a sports ambassador and a university residential advisor. Everything I could get my hands on, I did. Not a lot of people know this but I am actually very shy. When I got to university, I wanted to expand my skill set so putting myself in uncomfortable situations helped me do exactly that. I did things with my chest. Hey, the risks have paid off!
JF: Okay, so why an app? Why TRIM-IT?
ND: If you ever hear me talking about bae, I am 110% talking about TRIM-IT. 'Make bae thick 2017' (laughs). The way TRIM-IT came about is a rather long, but interesting story, I will keep it short. I met a guy called Darren in first year but I didn’t see him again until third year. So amidst my academic commitments in final year, I decided to get involved in a business competition on campus (again, being active, taking risks). Darren told me about his idea and I thought it was amazing, so amazing that I ended helping him more, despite having my own business idea to work on. Unfortunately, my idea didn’t get through to the final but Darren’s did. He pulled me to the side one day and simply said, “Join my team and I will make you rich. Join my team and I will make you successful”. After speaking to him about my life experiences and getting to know him and his vision for TRIM-IT I connected with his passion and we became business partners.
JF: People often say you can’t really mix business with pleasure. What do you think?
ND: I believe that you cannot mix business with pleasure if the pleasure came first – I mean, it can get sticky. Darren and I met as a result of business and our energies just clicked. However, when it comes to working hard and striving for success, we do not play at all.
JF: What would you say has been your biggest challenge or setback thus far and how did you deal with it?
ND: If I am honest, with regards to technology, we haven’t really had many setbacks because our CTO is simply amazing. The only setbacks I believe we have had, relate to people and just understanding the kind of people we work with. I think it is important to have people that share your vision on-board – do your research and do not be fooled by people. If I am honest, the skills I developed from my extra-curricular activities at university, have helped me overcome some of the problems that have arisen.
JF: Fantastic. Now, I think that there is often a fine line between criticism and negativity. How do you distinguish between the two?
ND: I have to agree with you, there is a fine line between the two but when you are the one taking the criticism, it is hard to draw the line. I have a perfect example of this. When we were speaking to barbers in Brighton, we were getting a wealth of positive feedback. Upon going back home to South London, I decided to pay my barber Yemi (Yemcel) a visit, to get my signature trim and also to share with him my new venture. I kid you not, when I told him about TRIM-IT, he laughed. He laughed so hard that the whole shop floor started laughing as well. I felt like crap. He shut me down and told me it was not going to work. He gave me a lot of reasons as to why it wouldn’t work. At the time, I wasn’t taking it in. Quite frankly, I was hurt. The one person I wanted to rate this idea, didn’t believe in it at all. Upon leaving the barbers and speaking to my team, we discussed the things that Yemcel has said. In doing this, we noticed little things that we had missed! Going back to our logistics, we took on what he had said and worked on improving bae.
JF: Such a positive response to what you initially deemed as negativity!
ND: That’s right. Might I add that when I told Yemcel about the idea, he said that he would never join! Right now, as we speak, he is sitting on the app. Every time I go back for my signature trim (with the two lines at the side) I buy him chicken and chips and take in everything he has to say regarding the app. Since we took on his criticism that fateful day, I can honestly say we have had a solid 30% increase in barber sales.
JF: That is honestly amazing. I think many more people need to have a positive outlook when it comes to things like negativity and see what can be learnt or gained from it. So, 2017, still in the New Year fever, what can we expect from TRIM-IT?
ND: I don’t even want to talk too much. Just know that 2017, we are not joking, we are not playing and we are about to make a whole lot of noise. Expect to see TRIM-IT in your neighbourhood. It is already happening. I went to SFX and a lot of my friends are actually from Lambeth. I get Snapchats from people daily showing me the TRIM-IT logo in their local barber shops! It is such an amazing feeling knowing that our brand is out there.
JF: I am honestly so I excited for yourself and the team! I saw TRIM-IT during its preliminary stages and I’m excited to see how far this is going go. Now, my final, final question to wrap up – what are your three pearls of wisdom that you would give to young, upcoming entrepreneurs.
ND: This is a tough question but firstly, I will say ‘if you knew better, you would do better’. Simply put, if you don’t know, you have to try. Even if your idea did not work when you first tried, you now KNOW better so the next time you try, you can ultimately DO better!
JF: Love that!
ND: Secondly, in The Game’s song, See No Evil, Kendrick Lamar said “I live my life at a pace anyone can go, know your place and dedicate your role, to the faith that you will die alone”. I live by this, honestly. I don’t know if it is just a Ghanaian thing but by nature, I am very relaxed. Live life at your own pace and get involved in things that make you happy! Nothing beats genuine passion. Finally, start early! Whoever is reading this, please just start! I believe anyone under 30 is young. The opportunities are endless. Don’t get into the cycle of working for someone else. Think deeply about your ideas, plan effectively and go for it! Hey, if it doesn’t work out, you tried and you can do better next time!
JF Final words:
Nana, Darren and the whole TRIM-IT team are an inspiring bunch of young people and I know this is not the last you will hear of them – global status, baby! However old you are, I hope this inspires you to get started and enjoy the process! I will hopefully be talking to Darren so keep your eyes peeled for another inspiring post!