Hi! I’m William Slator. I’m the founder and Managing Director of Hairguard (named Hair Loss Revolution until 2019), a hair loss solutions company that was founded in 2012.
Hairguard began as a blog where I shared research into the causes and solutions of male pattern baldness. It soon evolved into a business, first with the launch of Hair Loss Equilibrium, a PDF hair loss recovery manual, and then with the development of physical products such as the Scalp Elixir and Growband.
The business has expanded, with the help of my brother and co-founder Gus Slator, to include a range of hair loss treatment products. This includes our most successful product, the Growband.
As it stands today, Hairguard is a multi-million dollar company with continued year-over-year growth.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My fascination with hair loss started in my late teens.
I first noticed my hairline was receding and thinning when I was about 16 or 17. I distinctly remember a friend at school telling me I had a receding hairline. From the ages of 17 through 24 my hair loss continued to worsen.
This was all despite my frantic research and attempts at stopping the recession.
At that time, I had also graduated from the University of Birmingham with a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering. My particular interests were in biochemical engineering and novel intranasal drug delivery systems for vaccines. This has come in handy with research and product development.
It’s safe to say that, had I not found a solution, my hair loss would have progressed to the point of permanent balding.
Fortunately for me, though, the research I was doing was paying off.
There was a time from ages 24 through 28 when my hair loss essentially stabilized. This was due to the changes I was making to my hair care regime which helped prevent further loss.
Then from ages 28 through 30, I was finally able to regrow a small but significant and visual amount of hair primarily through lifestyle changes and the use of the Hairguard product range.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The first product we launched was a $197 PDF manual for stopping hair loss and regrowing your hair (Hair Loss Equilibrium). It was a simple document—designed in Word—containing 12 modules aimed at helping people learn why hair loss was happening and how to fix it.
For us, it was just important for us to get the message out there.
Over time, we added more features—like the Scalp Exercises & Massages manual and the guided meditations—to provide value to our customers.
However, our most successful product by far has been the Growband.
The Growband–and its newest model, the Growband Pro–is a scalp massaging device. The Growband works by treating the source of hair loss, and scalp tension.
The motion of inflation and deflation causes the scalp to move up, release the tension, and push blood back into the scalp.
The device consists of a padded headband and a pump. The first model was manual which meant users had to pump the device themselves. The newest version is completely hands-free.
Our first model of the Growband was launched in December 2018. This was after 10 months of product development, prototyping, and testing. All told, there were 32 iterations of our first model.
When we first started developing the Growband we decided to opt for a 3D printed shell, which allows for cheap, low-volume production as well as quick and easy iteration.
During this initial period we iterated the design many times until we had a prototype that got the massaging effect we needed, whilst also being quick and reliable to print.
We did the manufacturing in-house to start with so that we could work out any manufacturing or design kinks. Some parts we weren’t able to manufacture them ourselves so we also outsource production of some of these components to specialist suppliers.
After the launch, we made it a focus to gather feedback from customers. This helped us to rectify any issues which we hadn’t caught pre-production, and also improve the effectiveness of the overall design.
We also sold out a few times on the Growband, so we knew we had to up our manufacturing game.
After around a year we decided to switch to a woven fabric shell because doing so allowed us to increase the rate of production, whilst also helping to accommodate different head shapes and sizes better thanks to the better flexibility of the material.
One piece of feedback that we kept getting was that it was difficult for customers to do the pumping and deflating of the Growband to get the up-down massage effect.
For this reason, we decided to partner with an electronics engineering company to develop an automated pump system for the Growband, which we released in February 2023.
Whilst the concept has stayed the same throughout, the product has evolved many times. We’re happy to say that we have a fantastic product that tackles loss at the root cause, conveniently and easily, without side effects.
Starting the business was expensive, but we used the cash flow from sales to keep it going and lived frugally.
These sales started with just Hair Equilibrium, which we marketed heavily on social media and our blog. We also attribute much of our success to our robust blog, which had amassed dozens of articles on the topic before we ever launched Hair Equilibrium.
It was far from smooth sailing, especially amid the pandemic. Like many companies, we had trouble keeping up with demand in those earliest days. It was Gus’s tireless collaboration with our manufacturers and fulfillment centers that got us through that time. And we came out the other side better for it.
While we certainly saw success with the Growband, we did take our customer’s feedback to heart. This ultimately led to the second version of the Growband, the Growband Pro.
After our first go around, we knew what we needed in terms of quality, costs, and functionality. We also knew what kind of demand we could expect. We were able to use this experience and knowledge as leverage when working with our manufacturers.
Describe the process of launching the business.
In its earliest days, Hairguard (then known as Hair Loss Revolution) was simply a blog where I shared my findings on all things hair loss.
The biggest step I took at that time was just starting it.
It took me a few months to get into the groove of publishing new content, but soon I was publishing one or two articles per week and even developing other types of content like PDF guides and menus.
The blog evolved over the years to include paid content, and eventually physical products. The first of the physical products that we developed was the Scalp Elixir, a hair growth serum.
Our focus continues to be on creating high-quality content that helps our readers to better understand hair loss, the pros and cons of various treatments, and the latest research on the topic.
By the time we launched the Scalp Elixir, we already had a healthy following on our blog and social media accounts. At that time, social media gains seemed easier to achieve. We were largely active on Twitter and Facebook, and we simply used those platforms to announce our newest blog posts and keep in touch with our readers.
We did start our own Facebook group in 2018 as well—Hair Loss Forum—which is still going strong 5 years and 11,000+ members later:
We also already had an email newsletter which was a few thousand strong when we began to launch our paid products. Over time, this number has grown to 89,000+ subscribers.
The goal has always been to offer quality content to our readers, but even more so to our subscribers. We like to give subscribers a sneak peek at what’s coming up, and this is a great place for me to connect with our readership directly.
Before launch, we began to hint at our product to gauge reader reactions. We offered it free to a number of our most loyal readers, collected reviews, and then launched an email campaign.
We didn’t have to wait too long to see a positive response from our readers.
Within a few weeks, we saw tens of thousands in sales.
And while the launch of the Scalp Elixir was our biggest achievement at that time, we were just getting started.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since the launch of our first physical product, we have continued to focus on content publishing and outreach, as well as product development and sales growth. What this has looked like has varied over the years.
In the early days, we focused on outreach and social media engagement. This included a private group on Facebook and guest posting opportunities.
As we’ve just launched the Growband Pro, our current marketing efforts are largely focused on converting previous customers. We’re doing this via newsletter campaigns:
This has been a great success for us—a 25% click rate and a solid conversion rate. But that’s only because our newsletter list contains 120,000 subscribers.
We also continue to invest in our YouTube channel which was started back in 2019. With almost 300+ videos published and 82,000+ subscribers, we’re happy to have a platform that speaks to our wider audience.
Some of our most popular videos are those focused on natural remedies—dermarolling, scalp massage—as well as videos about my hair growth journey. These speak deeply to our audience who are sick of using products with side effects and require lifelong usage. They’re looking for a way to break out of that cycle, and we provide that hope to them through our content and videos.
That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles.
As I’m sure most online business owners can attest, we haven’t always had the smoothest run when it comes to organic traffic. This was true for the Hair Loss Revolution…
And still today with Hairguard:
Caption: A screenshot from Ahrefs showing organic traffic numbers for Hairguard
We feel like we’re in a constant struggle with Google as they continue to shift what they define as quality content worthy of the first page of search results.
With that said, our focus continues to be on creating high-quality content that helps our readers to better understand hair loss, the pros and cons of various treatments, and the latest research on the topic.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We entered 2023 with 30% year-over-year growth. Our sales increased even more dramatically with the release of the Growband Pro. When combining the sales of Growband and Growband Pro, the product line accounts for around 35% of total sales.
All of that to say, we’re going strong in 2023 and we have plans to carry that through 2024 and beyond.
Of course, we couldn’t achieve such success without the help of our employees.
As of 2023, we have five employees on the roster (excluding myself and my brother).
Our team includes:
- Tony, our director of video marketing. He also presents on our YouTube channel.
- Steph, our head of content marketing.
- Chris, our head of outreach and engagement.
- Sarah, our customer liaison.
- Jolme, our digital content designer.
As for what the future holds…
We’re always looking for ways to improve our content and physical products. With this in mind, we’ll continue to work to improve our product lines with the help of customer feedback, new ingredients, and emerging technologies.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The best decision I ever made as a business owner was to outsource work to professionals.
Too often, I see new business owners trying to maximize their profits by reducing their overhead. This often means doing the work of two, three, or even more people.
The truth, though, is that you have to spend money to make money.
When I invested in my business by hiring employees, I made room on my plate for more important matters. It gave me the opportunity to strategize on a higher level and to collaborate more effectively. This ultimately led to greater profits over time.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
From the start, the blog has been hosted on WordPress. We currently use the Thrive Suite plugins for building pages and funnels, running tests, and collecting leads.
Search engine optimization is also important to us. For that, we use Yoast SEO.
When we entered the e-commerce space, we tried several different sales platforms including WooCommerce, Shopify, and Thrivecart.
We moved from Shopify to WooCommerce but then ultimately went back to WooCommerce for its flexibility and we still use it to this day.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
If I had to choose the book that influenced my path the most, it would have to be Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less by Sam Carpenter. His work has influenced me to be an efficient and passionate business owner who also values his downtime.
Seth Godin is also a fantastic resource for marketers and e-commerce website owners.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
When I first started the blog, I had no idea what I was doing or how much of an impact my work would have. I knew one thing, though, and that was that I wanted to share my knowledge about hair loss with other people who had the same struggle as my own. I had no idea there would be any interest or even any potential to turn it into a business. But I started it anyway.
So my advice to people who have an idea but who are hesitant to put it into practice is just do it. Start the blog. Open the storefront. Start the novel. Just take that first step and everything else will fall into place.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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