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Startup spawned in NY City grows thanks to Buffalo presence



Startup spawned in NY City grows thanks to Buffalo presence

Six years after coming to Buffalo as one of the winners of the 43North competition in 2017, Squire Technologies has become one of the startup accelerator’s fastest growing companies.

Squire Technologies

Squire Technologies co-founders Dave Salvant, center left, and Songe LaRon celebrate their 43North prize in 2017.

The tech company, which created a booking software for barbers and shop owners allowing them to operate their businesses with cashless pay transactions, has raised $165 million from investors from its inception in 2015 and grown to approximately 180 employees.

And the company spawned in New York City by two young men tired of their corporate jobs still has a presence in the Western New York community.

Squire is headquartered in New York City and its app is distributed throughout the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, but Buffalo is where the company has its most significant cluster of employees working in one of its three physical offices. The third is in Austin, Texas.

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The company first made a splash locally in 2017 when it won the $650,000 runner-up prize in the 43North competition. Three years later, it reported having around 30 employees in its Buffalo office. That number has dwindled to 12 in 2024, but Squire still considers that significant for a remote-first, geographically dispersed team.

Squire is an example of what the state was hoping for when it launched 43North a decade ago as a way of encouraging entrepreneurship in the region and energizing the startup community here. 

“We continue to support the local ecosystem here, continue to hire for roles that are here, and a lot of our longest tenured employees are from Buffalo. We feel pretty connected,” said Songe LaRon, co-founder of Squire, during a visit to Buffalo in June for a national event hosted by Endeavor Western New York.

The company was founded in 2015 by LaRon and his friend Dave Salvant. Each were unhappy with the direction they were heading in. LaRon was a corporate lawyer and Salvant was in corporate finance, both working in New York City.

They set their sights on starting a business together and focused on barbershops – an important industry they believed was underserved by technology.

Although they weren’t barbers themselves, it was an industry both were familiar with through what LaRon describes as the ritual almost every American partakes in every few weeks or months − going to get a haircut.

Squire Portrait

Songe LaRon, cofounder of Squire, an all-in-one barbershop business management system. 

“We both wanted to do something more fulfilling and meaningful,” LaRon said. “And like so many guys, we both grew up in barbershops and were like so many people who go in to get a haircut and walk out of there feeling like a million bucks. We knew something was very special about this industry and thought there’s an opportunity here. It’s something we believe in.’”

A few years later, they were validated in quitting their full-time jobs and going full force into the industry by the results of the 43North competition in Buffalo.

The company, sometimes referred to as OpenTable for barbershops, has tripled its number of employees over the past four years and become a leading software provider to barbershops and salons. It raised $165 million from investors over six years, before ending the effort to raise funds and focusing on scaling, LaRon said. And, in 2020, Squire was selected to join the Endeavor Global Network, setting the stage for more growth opportunities.

“I’ve always thought that this would be a massive, multibillion dollar company and we’re not there yet, but we’re on our way,” LaRon said. “And when we won 43North, that was a proof point and gave me even more conviction.”

So, how has Buffalo contributed to that growth? For one, the community and startup ecosystem have wrapped their arms around businesses like his, LaRon said. Squire also has many barbershop customers in Western New York.

LaRon said barbers share the city’s sense of being overlooked and underestimated, making them work even harder at their craft. That sense of having something to prove also runs through the entire company, he added.

Employees in Buffalo work in sales, customer success and technology inside 43North’s space at Seneca One tower.

“The city is so eager to support entrepreneurs and innovation and is a smaller market than some of the other markets but because of that you can get a lot more attention and support,” LaRon said. “Since we won 43North, I think that our industry has resonated with the culture I see in Buffalo.”

Western New York has been so good to the company that LaRon decided to make even more of a commitment to the area and the startup ecosystem by joining Endeavor WNY as a board member.

Endeavor WNY supports late-stage, high-growth startups across Buffalo, Rochester and the broader upstate region. LaRon has become the first Endeavor WNY entrepreneur to be named to the nonprofit organization’s board of directors.

“To have our first Endeavor entrepreneur make the commitment and statement that we’ve had a major impact on him, his company and his team is such a validation of what we’ve been doing and what we’ll continue to do with Songe and many others,” said Alan Rosenhoch, managing director of Endeavor WNY.

Four years ago, LaRon and Salvant became the sixth and seventh entrepreneurs, respectively, selected by Endeavor WNY to join the global network, and only the third local business to earn the distinction at the time.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, LaRon said he started to lean in more with Endeavor and go to its national and international events. It helped LaRon better understand the breadth of what Endeavor offers in helping companies scale. Gaining these meaningful connections has also been the best way to grow as a CEO, he said.

“It helps getting connected with entrepreneurs who are a few years or more ahead of you and they know the playbooks and can tell you things you’re not even thinking about and the questions you should be asking,” LaRon said.

A core element of Endeavor’s business model is investing time and resources into entrepreneurs and then seeing them pay it forward to the next generation of startup founders scaling their companies. LaRon embraces that philosophy.

“When Alan brought up the idea of me potentially joining the board, I was intrigued,” LaRon said. “I had never been on a board like this so I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more and get closer to the organization, while also helps to give back to the community.”

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