Women’s grooming is an endless cycle of makeup, tweezing, manicures, moisturizing, haircuts, hair styling, and shopping. Whether or not women love it or merely tolerate it, these beauty and grooming practices are most often expected in a professional setting and are always time consuming. With a demanding job that doesn’t allow for an hour long break in the day, a free hour on a Saturday can seem like a relaxing excuse to get a manicure, however on some weekends, it might just be a necessary waste of a few hours. Because of course, after getting home with mostly dry nails, there’s always the requisite hour and a half of not being able to do anything that might mess up the manicure.
Enter Manicube, the in-office 15-minute manicure that occupies what used to be the tiny meeting at the end of the hall.
What makes Manicube so effective?
Manicube is the uber of manicures, and the logical next step from in-office shoe shine and dry cleaning services. The service is all about providing high quality and convenient services, and they do so with an operating model that drives convenience through its simplicity for the end-user.
Founded by HBS Alumnae Katerina Mountanos and Elizabeth R Whitman in 2012, and recently acquired by Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, Manicube’s value proposition is to provide 15-minute, $15 manicures to working women by partnering with Human Resource departments. Some companies pay for these services for their employees, while others simply provide the space for Manicube to operate, but either way, Manicube has partnered with HR departments by positioning themselves as a benefit for employee morale and retention. While traditional manicures can involve a full hour spent in a nail salon, these appointments are limited to 15 minutes, allowing them to be scheduled conveniently between meetings. Manicube also provides pedicures, and for men, they provide “cut and clip” nail services, and barber services. They see this as the start of offering a long line of in-offices services. Additionally, Manicube has a social mission of helping female entrepreneurs, which allows employees to feel good about making use of these services.
Location: Manicube started operating in New York, and its services are now available in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, all cities full of young professionals with busy schedules. In these locations, its services will be most in-demand, and part-time employees will be most available.
In-office convenience: Manicube works with HR departments to provide in-office services. Instead of paying rent, they are given an office space to work in, and they can get this deal because they can position themselves as being a perk for employees. Some HR departments even provide this as a free service. Technicians transport themselves to an office, whereas traditional manicures take place at salons where customers must transport themselves to the salon, generally during or slightly after business hours. Beyond the office, Manicube advertises that they also send technicians to events and on-demand for one-time occasions.
Experienced technicians: Manicube understands that their customers expect experienced technicians with a focus on personal hygiene, and they ensure that every technician hired is licensed and trained in Manicube-specific protocol. The specific protocol emphasizes speed – a standard appointment is only 15 minutes, whereas a typical manicure at a salon could not be fit into a work day, unnoticed.
Mobile sign-up: Employees can sign up for their appointment online on their phones and pay by credit card, again increasing convenience.
Uber-like service hiring: Manicube works with an HR department to reliably schedule services. To book the actual manicurists, Manicube uses an Uber-like interface, where they check to see which of their technicians are available at a given time, and hire services from there. Technicians can accept or reject an offer to work, as they are part-time employees who often also work at a salon.
Social mission: For each manicure service, Manicube donates $1 to female entrepreneurs in developing countries. This commitment aligns authentically with Manicube, as it was founded by two female HBS entrepreneurs.
Alignment of Operating Models
The business model and operating model of Manicube are complementary. The business model is one of unparalleled convenience to the customer, who may both an employer or an employee. The operating model of Manicube allows employees to take care of routine personal care more quickly than usual, adding time back to the employees life, which creates value for both the employee and employer. The operating model achieves this efficiency by placing the service in workplaces, by allowing the service to be booked and paid for online, and by making a professional manicure faster than any competitor. Additionally, a social mission was implemented at the very start of the business that donates money to female entrepreneurs. The mission is well aligned with the business, and it is seemless for customers.