Cornell University Johnson at Cornell University

Startup Snapshots

Joe Marchesi and Hans Deutmeyer, both MBA '01: Not just "a little off the top"

Part tony hotel lobby, part old-fashioned gents' club, Truman's on Manhattan's East 56th Street www.trumans-nyc.com is no ordinary barbershop. Clients sip drinks at the bar, or sit in leather barber chairs, where they receive a cut, shave, and shine; perhaps a manicure, pedicure, or massage. They pay a bit more, too – a haircut costs $63; a year's membership, $1,200.

Hans Deutmeyer (left) and Joe Marchesi are thrilled with the early success of Truman's Gentlemen's Groomers, their new venture
Hans Deutmeyer (left) and Joe Marchesi are thrilled with the early success of Truman's Gentlemen's Groomers, their new venture
The history of Truman's began about two years ago, when three men – Hans Deutmeyer, along with fellow graduate Joe Marchesi, and Joe's colleague, John Esposito – thought of offering premium men's haircuts at premium prices. The niche seemed ripe: The corner barber just gave trims, and salons intimidated men. The marketplace was fragmented; only one major player was a public company. Salons were run by stylists, not professional managers.

"We loved the idea because it was so simple," says Marchesi. So did investors. Truman's raises customer service to an art. Barbers and stylists are hired for their ability to listen and talk to clients. The space was designed by an architect specializing in hospitality. "We wanted it to be a place where you wanted to spend time," says Marchesi.

Open since May 2006, Truman's is booming. Clients include not only white-collar professionals, but musicians and artists, and older tourists who remember the days of cut, shave, manicure, and shoe shine. Girlfriends and wives, the "influencer" target, are snapping up gift cards and memberships for their men. And Johnson School alumni are finding Truman's a perfect place to meet.

Deutmeyer and Marchesi are having a great time. "One minute you're talking with investors; the next, sweeping hair," says Deutmeyer. "Each day is so different, and so interesting."