The beauty and wellness services marketplace startup, BigStylist.com, has raised pre-Series A funding of $1 million from Info Edge, the owner of online classifieds Naukri and 99acres. Founded by Richa Singh, Chinmaya Sharma, and Anurag Srivastava (all IIT Kharagpur graduates), BigStylist is trying to revolutionize the way beauty and wellness services industry works in India. In less than three months, BigStylist claims to have served more than 3000 customers in Mumbai.
Story so far
BigStylist was started because of a personal pain point. While at IIT Kharagpur and later while working in different cities, Richa found it difficult to locate affordable and reputed beauty parlors. The trio did some research at the ground level, and after realising the magnitude of the pain point conceptualized BigStylist.
Richa and Chinmaya have management consulting backgrounds with Oliver Wyman and Bain & Co., after their MBAs from IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore respectively. Anurag, the third co-founder, is the CTO and has deep experience in building technology products. They currently have a corporate team of 25 and about 200 beauticians in their network.
Related read from August: Mumbai-based BigStylist wants to become Grofers of beauty and wellness space
Customers can place orders and get access to experienced stylists and beauticians on BigStylist through three channels- their website, placing a request through Whatsapp or through their recently launched Android app. Chinmaya noted that while the tech-savvy ‘millennials’ were comfortable placing orders through the website and mobile app, Whatsapp is helping them reach out to the less tech savvy and older population.
For BigStylist, the USP of their hyperlocal technology platform is their ability to work with only experienced professionals and provide quick delivery of services in timespans as quick as an hour. They achieve this through their proprietary selection and interview methodology that ensures a low-cost and scalable model without physical investments in any academies or training institutes. Chinmaya added,
"Traditionally this industry has stayed somewhat untouched by technology. Expect the beauty and wellness services vertical in India to grow fast with the rise of the middle class. We are weaving in technology to ensure smooth customer experience and sturdy growth trajectory.”
In the course of three months, BigStylist’s average tickets size has gone from Rs 1200 per customer to about Rs 750 per customer. Chinmaya explained that this was part of their long-term growth strategy to increase stickiness of their consumers. He said,
Initially, we push the utilitarian services to our customers as it is easier to initiate a trial there. Once the customer has experienced us for the basic services, we find it easier to upgrade them to value-added services as well as convert them towards repeat customers.
Currently, about 80% of BigStylist’s customers are women but have recently launched services for men too. However, with the variety of services that women opt for and the frequency, going forward they expect women to continue being their largest demographic. To reach out to customers, BigStylist utilizes a mix of both offline and online marketing strategies. Their offline channels include supermarkets frequented by women and corporate offices and campuses.
Sector overview and future plans
Regarding the market size and potential, Richa added, "Just beauty and wellness services is a $5B industry in India growing at 20% year-on-year. Because of the traditional model that requires physical presence, single brands have not been able to scale very fast. A technology platform like ours has a more efficient cost-structure and is better positioned to grow rapidly."
About a week ago, BigStylist launched its Pune operations and is now beginning talks with investors for Series A investment to execute its multi-city expansion plan. Their goal is to be active in five cities by March 2016. So far customers have only had the option to pay cash on delivery. Chinmaya confirmed that they had recently signed a contract with two providers and will be providing payment integrations soon.
Busy lifestyles, rise in consumerism, strong economic backgrounds, and relatively better incomes are driving the growth of on-demand beauty space. So far the space has attracted over Rs 25 crore. Yuvraj Singh-backed Vyomo secured less than $2 million in pre series A funding round from Berlin-based Rocket Internet.
Stayglad had raised an undisclosed amount of angel round from Sahil Barua, Tracxn Labs, and others. Delhi-based Vanitycube closed $250K from unnamed investors while beauty and grooming e-commerce platform Purplle had raised over $5 million in its Series A round from IvyCap Ventures in January 2015. BigStylist competes with aforementioned startups and players such as Chandigarh based Bulbul and Getlook founded by IIT KGP alumni.
(With inputs by Jai Vardhan)
Recomended read from HerStory: Ten women entrepreneurs providing a platform to pamper yourself
Want to make your startup journey smooth? YS Education brings a comprehensive Funding Course, where you also get a chance to pitch your business plan to top investors. Click here to know more.