A little more than two years ago, Thomas White, an experienced barber, noticed that electric hair clippers—used extensively for Black and Latino hair styling—have a tendency to overheat too quickly, necessitating that barbers own and use multiple pairs throughout a workday.
White pitched the idea of building better clippers to his best friend, Tyler Anthony, who at the time was a senior computer engineering major at Mississippi State University on a co-op with Kopis Mobile, where he learned a considerable deal about 3D printing, modeling and design.
“We came together and decided to solve this problem. We came up with a device that not only stays cool all day long, but it also allows barbers to combine the three main tools—a clipper, a trimmer, and a shaver—into a single device that could sustain all that use without overheating,” Anthony says.
Joined by marketing director Vicki Jordan, White and Anthony founded Duet Technologies (or DueTT), adopting the titles of COO and CEO, respectively—thanks in large part to MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, or E-Center. In 2018, Duet Technology raised $7,500 from the MSU Venture Catalyst program and $10,000 from the Mississippi Seed Fund. Spinning out from this success, Duet Technologies secured about $140,000 from the Bulldog Angel Network in 2019, and the Mississippi Seed Fund awarded the company $100,000 in 2020 to go toward the product’s development and launch.
In the early stages of the 3-in-1 device’s development, Duet Technologies decided to connect with the barber industry by creating a platform, The Barber Style Directory, to publish social media content that barbers could find valuable.
In 2020, YouTube started a project called the United States of YouTube, selecting two or three YouTube channels from each state to feature on its interactive map. YouTube chose The Barber Style Directory, which has nearly 80,000 subscribers, as one of three channels to represent Mississippi. During the pandemic, Duet Technologies has therefore been able to expand its audience.
“We were finding that many individuals were having to cut their children’s hair or their own hair at home for the first time and were looking for content to be able to learn how to do so,” Anthony says. “This year, we were able to double the growth rate of those social media channels and have gained around 50,000 new subscribers and followers from those self-groomer marketing efforts—that’s a really large market for our company that we hadn’t been able to tap into beforehand.”
The company plans to roll out its clippers in the first half of 2021. DueTT’s online store will be launched in that time, along with a relaunch of The Barber Style Directory’s website with updated information and more photos and videos to help barbers hone their craft.
Being based in Starkville, Miss., allows Duet Technology to work closely with MSU’s E-Center in addition to working alongside Innovate Mississippi.
“This state has so many great resources. (The E-Center and Innovate Mississippi) are so helpful to us. We just really love the community and being a part of it,” Anthony says.