Beautystack, the London startup that’s creating a beauty professional booking app with heavy focus on social, has quietly picked up £4 million in seed funding led by Index Ventures.
The company had previously raised pre-seed funding from LocalGlobe (led by Suzanne Ashman) and counts David Rowan (ex-Wired), Julien Codorniou (Facebook Workplace) and Audrey Gelman (The Wing) as angel investors.
Founded by former salon owner and brand consultant Sharmadean Reid in April 2017 before being joined by co-founders Dan Woodbury and Ken Lalobo, Beautystack is part booking platform for independent beauty professionals and part social app. The idea, Reid tells me, is to “close the loop” on seeing the results of a beauty treatment that you like and being able to book it.
“Girls see millions of images of beauty treatments on social media and have no idea about who did it, how much it cost or what it even is,” she says. “We want to close the loop on the journey of seeing what you want, liking it and booking it. With Beautystack we use visual menus so you can search and book what you like.”
Reid says Beautystack’s “see it, like it, book it” approach is also designed to solve a bigger problem that means many beauty services providers are at the bottom of the $450 billion beauty industry and “don’t get the earnings, tech solutions or income or respect they deserve.”
“In my opinion they are the foundation of the industry and with Beautystack our mission is towards gender quality by increasing the earnings of these ‘Beauty Pros.’ I want to turn the beauty professionals into the next beauty influencers and have them earning salaries comparable to beauty bloggers. They always have been influential, but now we want to push them to the forefront.”
She says doing that requires a cultural change as well as a technological one, and that Beautystack, which launched a beta in January, is taking the time to cultivate its supply and promote the beauticians on its app through articles and content, “and nurture their confidence and their careers.” It also provides the tools needed for beauty professionals to work independently and reduce the time spent managing social media, customer support and bookings.
“Our typical supply customer is a millennial or Gen-Z independent beauty professional,” adds Reid, “mainly women, who tend to create a lot of content around their work (images and video), which they then post on social media. After working all day, they then have to respond to Instagram DMs, comments, texts and WhatsApps for their appointment requests, and typically there will be at least 10 exchanges, including screenshots of imagery to close a booking [without payment].”
These beauty professionals are typically leaving a salon and either setting up private studios, operating mobile, working from home or renting chairs in a salon as opposed to a commission model. With Beautystack, Reid says the beauty pro’s time is better protected against cancellations, too, with a 50% upfront booking and 50% upon completion. An image of the beauty treatment sought is attached to each booking and the beauty pro can view the client’s profile to gauge their taste before they even walk through the door.
It’s this “networked environment” that in part makes Beautystack stand out from competitors, with the app employing social media mechanics to allow users to see what their friends have booked and to follow and like their posts. “We have a two-sided networked marketplace that has equal functionality. Other beauty scheduling systems operate like a classified directory,” says Reid.
With that said, Beautystack isn’t a walled garden. Initially built as a web app using React, each beauty pro gets their own website accessible through any modern web browser and linked to their profile within the Beautystack mobile app.
“Later down the line I think we will do more with their web profiles and enable partner integrations in finance and accounting to support more experiences for beauty pros,” adds the Beautystack founder.