With the popularity and success of Uber across the globe, the mobile on-demand industry -- Uber for X -- is a gold rush, especially in India over the past one year. Right from laundry to logistics, grocery, delivery and food among others, we see startups are rushing to capture above segments with Uber for X approach.While MyWash.in is an on-demand laundry service currently operating in a few areas of Bangalore, Blowhorn, The Porter, Shippr and LOTrucks are evangelizing logistics space.
On the lines of Uber for X, Delhi-based VanityCube delivers on demand professional and affordable beauty services at your doorstep as early as in 90 minutes. “We have many sites which give information about doorstep salon and stylists, but you are not really sure about the quality of services and how much to pay them,” says Renu Bisht.
Just like Uber makes everyone feel like they have a private driver, VanityCube wants women to use it regularly as their private stylist without having to spend a fortune. “We think beauty is more personal hence standardization of quality and service delivery on time are our focus areas,” adds Renu.
Genesis of the idea and initial hiccups
The demand for beauty services in the comfort of one’s desired location is strong as it saves time. VanityCube was started with a personal need of getting affordable and quality beauty services due to time crunch. “Spending hours in salon during weekends was not making sense and we started looking out for service providers who can provide similar services at home. To our surprise we had none and the existing ones were very low on quality or not professional enough,” claims Renu.
Renu collaborated with Pragya and started working on VanityCube. “We took a few months to put our website together and bring salon artists on board,” adds Renu. Renu is a computer science graduate from JNTU, Hyderabad, and a MBA from Symbiosis, Pune, while Pragya is the alumnus of St. Xavier's, Mumbai, and XIMR, Mumbai.
“Bringing our first employee on board and convincing her to our business model was the toughest task for us,” states Pragya. The duo also struggled initially while convincing salon professionals to take-up freelance assignments.
Presence, traction and size of opportunity
VanityCube is currently operational in Gurgaon and South Delhi and will soon be operational in entire NCR. Till now VanityCube had served more than 1500+ customer with 70% repeat customers.
Besides, online customers can also book appointment via phone. The company is also working on developing mobile app for an efficient mobile facing customer interface and robust backend.
After food & health, beauty services are the biggest area where people spend their monthly income. On an average a woman spends anywhere between Rs 2000 and Rs 3000 on a monthly basis on basic beauty rituals. According to some industry estimates in a large economy like India the market size for beauty services pegs around $4.8 billion and it’s growing.
USP and revenue model
“We believe that maintaining the highest order of service quality and ensuring the availability of therapists within 60 minutes of booking is our USP,” adds Pragya. Since the size of opportunity is over $4.5 billion, it’s big enough for multiple players to enter. “This is only the start of this segment and more players entering the market will help in growing the pie and also marketing this segment,” states Pragya.
The company earns commission on every transaction. “We charge commission on overall value of services availed by a particular customer,” adds Pragya. Besides peer to peer business, it’s also working with corporates for in-premise services.
VanityCube primarily focuses on expanding its footprint in the entire Delhi (NCR) region, including two more metros (Mumbai and Bangalore) by end of this year. “This will allow us to have a good presence along with maintaining the quality of services because service quality is the key concern for us,” concludes Pragya. The company is so far pure-play bootstrapped venture and it’s looking to raise seed funds soon.
The ‘Uber for X’ market is hot in India and the steep rise in overall mobile consumption is driving it. If these ‘Uber for X’ startups turn out to show a lucrative future, we will see more startups exploring various niche and addressing pain-points on the lines of Uber, Ola, Shippr, and Boxmyspace among others.
Importantly, salon and beauty spaces have been gaining interest of investors over the past one year. Beauty and grooming e-commerce platform Purplle had raised over $5 million in its Series A round from IvyCap Ventures in January this year, while Nykka raised $3.4 million (INR 20 crores) through private investors, including HNIs and NRIs to boost the expansion plans of the brand in the omni-channel retail space.
A yet to be launched mobile-centric beauty and wellness platform Vyomo secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding from cricketing icon Yuvraj Singh’s floated startup fund YouWeCan Ventures.The Vyomo mobile app for salons, spas and stylists will be available for both iOS and Android from May 2015.
The beauty and wellness market looks to be an interesting segment to watch out this year.