If a genie were to appear for the millennials, she will be at her wit’s end trying to deliver upon the odd wishes she will have sprung at her – right from ‘reply to all my emails’ for some, to ‘help me nap without nightmares about the next day’s presentation,’ for others. There is one that would indubitably be every woman’s third - ‘please just magically restore my groomed, pampered, or at least clean human form from my hairy street-urchin-like current self, without me having to step out of my bedroom.’
A new-age genie may be able to secure you on that front. Chant “HiJinny”, rub your phone in three quick maneuvers, and voila, your home’s a state-of-the-art spa complete with a beauty professional delivering you the service you sought, right at your doorstep!
Two entrepreneurs, ex-Nestle and TCS executive Konark Gaur and IIT alumnus and ex-CTO of Nykaa Kalpesh Balar, who claim to have a complete and thorough know-how of the beauty and wellness domain, coupled with a rather accurate knowledge about their consumer’s psyche, have predicted that with the boom in e-commerce and m-commerce, every single product or service must find a way to walk itself to the client, rather than it being the other way around.
And HiJinny – a full-stacked online marketplace for home-delivered beauty and wellness services, pledging to be the Uber of that sphere – is part of that change.
Hi there, Jinny!
Piloting in Pune, this two-month-old startup is a pivot of Jazz Up chain of salons to capture the growing market for home-based beauty services, through the use of high-quality products and standardised operating procedures, with the added value offering of convenience of home-delivery.
The company launched its app just two weeks ago – on Independence Day – which was a happy coincidence. “Freedom from traffic, pollution, and traveling to a salon,” jokes Konark.
“Most of the salon services are ground floor properties in prime locations, increasing overheads massively. These costs, in turn, get transferred to the consumer. The solution to these problems is to have a product which is convenient, without any drop in the quality of the services, but in the price for sure, and transfer the load of value in a way that expands the market,” he adds.
Revealing that their pricing is at least 20-30 per cent cheaper than salons, Konark says their idea is to ensure that: “Getting a mani-pedi, for example, no longer remains a luxury. One wouldn’t hesitate to avail it once a month, as it won’t be criminal on the pocket. Affordability will be an enabler to expand the overall market for beauty and wellness”.
In three simple steps, one may look at the standard rate-card fixed by the HiJinny team, choose the service, enable their location and see which professional is available in their locality from a list, pick their expert based on testimonials and ratings, and then, just sit back and keep an eye on the door.
What a girl wants
Explaining why it is the best time for a company like theirs to enter the market, Konark explains, “Couple of years ago, this may have been ahead of its time, but right now is the right time to enter this market. We are absolutely at the cusp, and will cause a desirable disruption. Moreover, more women are now working professionals and everyone is getting busy. There is a premiumisation of time, but looking and feeling good is not a smaller priority either. And home delivery is no longer a novel concept. There is a great amount of acceptability attached to it. Thus, gone are the days of parking lot hassles, and traffic issues”.
What’s in it for the professionals?
Describing the win-win situation at both ends, he says, “All professionals wants to open up their own salon; everyone feels they are paid less. Here, our service providers get to become a brand. They are entrepreneurs on our network from day one.”
The selection process for a professional is elaborate and thorough. They are vetted through a background check done by the commissioner’s office. Later, their theory, practical knowledge, soft-skills as well as nimbleness of their hands are tested. The ones making it through are then further trained by stalwarts – so they may keep learning an adding value to their craft. Out of 600 applicants in Pune, 50 were selected.
Working on a commission model which tips in their favor, Konark insists on giving his professionals all possible leverage by even granting them the option of flexible hours. “While a married woman expecting a baby would certainly plan an exit, now she may decide which hours she would like to work, hit a button on the app to indicate her availability, and monitor how much business she wants to do,” he explains.
How they deliver
“We don’t want you to feel that asking for home delivery is a compromise. We want you to feel the same, by replicating your experience at the salon. Now, close your eyes, and you are in your own personal spa,” says Konark.
Besides, they take full ownership of the transaction, from the start to the finish- tracking the service provider from when they accept the order till they complete it, to ensure not only timely delivery, but also safety – complete with mandatory audits, on ground, and on the field.
Reception by the ‘beauty-conscious’ consumer
“With minimalistic marketing, and mostly relying on organic publicity, we get about 50 transactions a day,” says Konark. About 20 per cent of their business is already coming from a newly-launched app.
“Our customers are becoming ambassadors, hence marketing, building trust, manpower, adequate training, operations have been and will be our key allocations of resources, to set up a strong base,” says cofounder Kalpesh.
The company is funded currently by Four Fountains Spa, a successful chain of spas across several Indian cities.
The market is still more or less untested waters, as very few apps have adopted this concept of organizing beauty professionals for at-home services. Even as similar apps like ‘Bulbul’ exist, a pan-India company in the sphere is yet to take the market by storm. On the other hand, apps like Urbanclap might include these services, but Konark maintains what sets them apart from other service providing apps is their domain expertise and specialized know-how, having served lakhs of customers in his six years with Jazz -up. “Besides, you can’t generalise the process of hiring a plumber and a beautician. You’ve got to know your consumer,” he explains, as they plan to raise seed funding between Rs two and five crore.
Funds will be allocated to expanding to Bengaluru and Mumbai, by early next year.