Skip to main content

Drybar Founder Alli Webb Talks Styling and Success at Greif Center

Drybar Founder Alli Webb Talks Styling and Success at Greif Center

Alli Webb shared her story and entrepreneurial wisdom with a packed house of Marshall students.

Alli Web smiles by her microphone at a Q&A

Alli Webb answers questions at her Greif talk. 

[USC Photo/Courtesy of Jessica Silva]

Stay Informed + Stay Connected


When Alli Webb started driving to people’s homes for hair appointments in 2009, she didn’t realize she was planting the seeds of a multimillion-dollar salon empire and beauty phenomenon. But fast forward 10 years and DRYBAR had sold for $255 million.

The revolutionary salon focuses on one type of hair treatment: top-notch blowouts. The chain earned scores of customers, including celebrities like Jennifer Garner, Julia Roberts, and Zooey Deschanel. By the 2019 sale, Webb and her company had opened more than 100 locations across the United States and made Webb an entrepreneurial superstar. Today, she’s an investor, a Shark Tank regular, a co-founder of Squeeze and Becket + Quill, and the author of her new book The Messy Truth: How I Sold My Business for Millions but Almost Lost Myself, which Webb described as “memoir meets business book.”

On January 11, the LLOYD GREIF CENTER FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL STUDIES hosted Webb for an open discussion in front of a captivated audience. Moderated by Marshall MBA student Ilayda Sekercioglu at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, the talk centered on the founding of Drybar, entrepreneurial obstacles, and her new book.

Much of the conversation focused on Webb’s own journey as a new entrepreneur and company founder, which she described as an invigorating, albeit challenging, learning process. In hindsight though, she’s glad she launched Drybar when she did.

“When you’re younger and when you’re hungry, that’s when you start a business,” Webb said. “It didn’t feel like work. It was so fun and intoxicating, starting and running this company and the response to it and the press and people wanting us to open everywhere. It was so life changing from every conceivable angle that I loved it.”

In a room full of Greif students (as well as some Drybar fans), Webb also imparted some unexpected lessons on the entrepreneur students.

“There’s bigger, sexier stories about some of our challenges, but I would say the biggest challenge is the monotony of starting a business and how many millions of little decisions have to be made and have to be made pretty well. And inevitably, you’re going to get lots of them wrong.”

You can have a great idea, [but if] you don’t have good execution, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.

— Alli Webb

Founder, Drybar

Unlike Marshall students, Webb didn’t attend college for business or entrepreneurship but rather had to learn the fundamentals while building a multimillion-dollar company. In fact, Webb herself said it was like getting an “MBA on the job.”

Now, Webb’s passions have expanded to include investing in new companies and passionate visionaries. But she needs to see more than enthusiasm to be convinced to invest. To impress Webb, young entrepreneurs must come to the table with a specific, comprehensive plan.

“A great idea is a dime a dozen,” Webb said. “You can have a great idea, [but if] you don’t have good execution, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.”

Webb’s been on the other end of that transaction many times. With the growth of Drybar, she and her co-founders vetted countless investors, always with one eye on their ultimate vision for the company. Even when potential backers asked them to expand their product line for additional revenue streams, Webb stood her ground because she knew it wasn’t what Drybar was about.

“I realized how important it was to find somebody who was aligned with our vision and who really understood that piece of it,” Webb said. “That is who we ultimately ended up taking money from.”

After a question and answer session, attendees were also invited down to the courtyard for a signing of Webb’s new book. It was a rare opportunity for students to meet a woman who did the near-impossible: build an empire from nothing.