This OZY Genius Helps Poor Students Get Haircuts for Less

This OZY Genius Helps Poor Students Get Haircuts for Less

By Pallabi Munsi



Because sometimes bright ideas are as simple as affordable haircuts.

By Pallabi Munsi

Every year, OZY gives 10 college students the opportunity to pursue their outstanding ideas and envisioned innovations with grants of up to $10,000. The OZY Genius Awards aim to support and celebrate the next Albert Einstein or Oprah Winfrey as they write groundbreaking books, film thought-provoking documentaries, launch tomorrow’s industry-disrupting companies or create the next game-changing social movement. Applications for the 2021 OZY Genius Awards are now open — learn more and apply today.


Michael DeVore isn’t your traditional entrepreneur, but he has always been an ideas man who carries a notebook everywhere he goes. While he was in college, one of those big ideas he wrote down won him an OZY Genius Award in 2017. The genius idea? Envisioning a world in which broke college kids would never again have to go to a job interview with a mop of unruly hair. 

DeVore, who grew up in South Carolina and attended the historically Black Claflin University, aimed to launch an app that would connect college students and barbers. Among other conveniences, the app would provide discounts for students and a way for barbers to connect with new customers.

While DeVore had the big idea, what he didn’t have at the time, he says, was the know-how to make it happen. And that’s where OZY came in with a mentorship system that taught him how to implement his plans. He also learned that “ideas work only when you stop following the paths of your idols and carve one out for yourself.”

Since then, a lot has changed. He and his co-founders have taken the app, Live Chair, to the next level by jumping into the health care industry.

Now, barbers at the collaborating shops work to convince minority men to check their blood pressure while cutting their hair. “A lot of minority men don’t feel comfortable in hospitals and are in medical distress,” DeVore says. By providing a safe space for them to get a basic checkup, DeVore wants to close that gap.

The idea has won him accolades and money. To date, Live Chair Health has raised more than $800,000 in funding and is currently undergoing Series A funding.

What else did he get from the OZY Genius Award? A chance to meet entrepreneur Mark Cuban at OZY Fest in New York City, and a sit-down with OZY CEO Carlos Watson — meetings that left him determined to “never give up on [his] dreams.”