A serial entrepreneur and investor is now enabling non-branded salons to multiply revenues

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Started in October 2016, Be U Salon enables salons to escalate their business by providing multiple services like inventory and HR Management, customer relationship management, consumer behaviour analysis, and expense management.  

Having successfully led a media venture for 10 years and taking it global to five countries by October 2016, seasoned entrepreneur Vikas Johari wanted to test the waters with his new venture in the salon industry.

Also, a startup supporter, 33 years old Vikas played the role of an anchor investor in 5ideas Startup Superfuel, and Managing Partner of Jaipur Capital. For a person who helps businesses reach the next level, running ventures in multiple sectors may not seem like a big risk to take.

From left: Jigyasa Gupta, Co-Founder and COO, Shailendra Nagvani, Co-Founder and CTO, Vikas Johari, Founder & CEO

But while venturing into the salon space in 2012, with Monsoon Salon & Spa, Vikas was exposed to the fact that 90 percent of the salon industry are bleeding, some in terms of inefficiencies and some in terms of opportunity costs, such as rentals, promoter services etc.

Vikas, therefore, wanted to come up with a tech-enabled solution that can bridge the gap between the salon owners, customers and employees. In October 2016, he started Be U Salon with the aim of helping salons with standardisation and automation through technology, and help them explore their unutilised capabilities to achieve better productivity and profitability.

For salon owners, Be U provides tech-driven operational efficiency, marketing support, self-monitored stores, training by experts, fixed affordable prices, customer engagement apps, better employee incentives, round-the-clock appointments, customer loyalty programmes, the ecosystem of external vendors and an overall increment in revenue.

Fundraising phase

Be U Salons has raised Rs 4 crore in April 2017 from a consortium of investors from UAE, Singapore, and India. The fund raise was led by Gaurav Kachru from 5ideas Startup Superfuel and has received participations from Sundeep Singh Sahni, Founder Lazada Group and former VP Ola New Initiatives, Jatin Aneja, Partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, Bikramjiet Kukreja (owner of one of the first Be U Salon outlets) and Arun Malhotra, a serial entrepreneur, among others.

“I am not a tech person, but I have learnt a little about business architecture through my few business stints as well as my little tech exposure while investing with a few startups over the last five years, such as Kart Rocket, Roposo, DataWeave etc,” says Vikas, an alumnus of the University of Miami, The London School of Economics and Political Science and University of California.

Before entering the salon industry, Vikas founded MaXposure Global, a publishing company, and served as a COO for more than a decade.

Then there are the other founders. Jigyasa Gupta and Shailendra Nagvani, who founded Growbiz, a CRM and ERP SAAS integrated solution for salon owners, joined B U salon as co-founders when their startup got acquired.

Escalating the business efficiency

Owned by Delhi-based Gingerpan Swapcart Pvt Ltd, Be U Salon app helps salons to escalate customer engagement and standardised services using data analytics.

For customers, the benefits range from easy online appointments, mobile payments, transaction history record, scope for feedback, reviews and ratings, loyalty programmes, no waiting time and real time services.

“Larger chains can afford strong backed brand visibility. But the standalone chains typically lack variety in service, technical expertise, technology usage, isolated brand value, low marketing budget and limited access to premium brands and are geography-bound,” says Vikas.

He added, “One of our outlets have jumped their revenues 50 percent within the first quarter of joining Be U, thanks to problems identification and an apt roadmap to the solutions, which led the salon owner listing two more of his outlets under Be U.”

Be U shares 15 percent of the revenue of the salons that they work with. The startup currently has tied up with 30 outlets across Delhi-NCR and claims to have serviced more than 25,000 customers in the last six months.

With currently 45 employees, Be U Salon aims to open over 100 outlets in by March 2018 across Delhi-NCR.

Industry overview

According to a report by FICCI and EY, the Indian wellness industry was estimated at Rs 85,000 crore in 2014-15, which is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 12 percent by FY20 valuing the industry at Rs 1.5 trillion.

Delhi-based online aggregator of budget salon, GlamStudios last year in February has secured an undisclosed amount in seed funding from former Rategain COO Aqeel Ahmed. Salon chain major Naturals has invested Rs 100 crore in Vyomo and has rebranded it as Naturals @Home. Beauty chain Enrich Salon last year acquired on-demand beauty platform Belita for an undisclosed amount.

Acquisition of Vyomo and Belita witnessed the strong interest of offline salons in venturing into on-demand beauty space, which is currently dominating the consumer mindshare.

Website: Be U Salon

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