HAIRCVT is attempting to revolutionise the £10bn hairdressing industry in the UK and France with an online marketplace for hairdressers to showcase themselves and consumers to find and book them. Working with some of the most influential salons in London and Paris (including John Frieda and Toni and Guy) and with the backing of international product companies, HAIRCVT aim to take a significant share of online hair bookings over the next 5 years.
HAIRCVT is revolutionising the £10bn hairdressing industry in the UK and France by offering a marketplace for hairdressers to showcase themselves and consumers to find and book them.
Just over a year old, currently trading in London and about to launch to the public in Paris, HAIRCVT:
- Work with 120 influential salons, (including Toni and Guy and John Frieda) and 500+ hairdressers
- Are working with a number of international product companies including Davines, KEVIN.MURPHY, Oribe, American Crew, Baxter of California and Revlon (and in conversations with L’Oreal and Estée Lauder) – who give us an extremely powerful growth network
- Have built what we believe to be the World’s largest collection of categorised hairstyles
- Have been written about in Stylist Magazine, Elle, Cosmopolitan, InStyle and Daily Mail… and c. 30 other publications
The hair industry has long escaped a digital revolution – hairdressers and their work have been virtually invisible up until now, and booking a hair appointment has yet to be significantly improved by technology in the way that accommodation (Airbnb), takeaways (JustEat) or taxis (Uber) have been.
Over the next 5 years they aim to drive significant growth in online penetration in the hair industry – and, as one of the key drivers of growth, take a big chunk of market share in the same way JustEat now service 14% of the 20-28% of takeaways now ordered online
THE PAIN POINTS WE SOLVE
We simply make getting your hair cut better, from start to finish.
1. Working out what you want
We’ve all been there – taking a picture of David Beckham or Rachel from Friends to the hairdresser, or struggling to describe confidently what it is you want, then sitting back and hoping for the best.
With HAIRCVT – you can browse thousands of real people’s hairstyles, search for hairstyles from your area and in your price range or filter by hair colour, curliness or length to find a hairstyle that’s just right for you. Then, crucially, book the hairdresser who did it.
2. Choosing a salon
Finding somewhere convenient for you, that’s in your price range and looks like the kind of place you’d feel comfortable? That’s not easy. Salon websites are notoriously out-dated, hard to navigate and rarely give you everything you need to make a decision.
With HAIRCVT – we give people a manageable choice of top salons to choose from, allowing them to explore by price, location or the hairstyles their hairdressers are showcasing. Each salon page gives you all of the most important information in a clean, consistent design – map, opening hours, phone number, description and photos of the salon, full price list and profiles of each team member.
3. Choosing a hairdresser
Finding the individual hairdresser that’s right for you is hard. It’s virtually impossible to see who works in a salon let alone who they are, their background and, most importantly, the type of hair they love working with. In fact, most people don’t even choose their hairdresser at all – the salon receptionist does.
With HAIRCVT – each hairdresser has their own profile on the site, you can see a photo of them, a short introduction, their pricelist, then their portfolio of clients’ hairstyles. So you’re booking an appointment with a person, not just a service.
4. Booking your appointment
Research suggests a large majority of hair appointments (based on Wahanda’s current volume of bookings and market share) (we estimate that this number is still below 4%) are still booked by phone which means you can’t book at evenings or on Sundays and Mondays when salons are closed and for most people that makes it tricky to book at work too.
With HAIRCVT – you can request an appointment with an individual hairdresser, from your computer, tablet or phone in under a minute.
It’s really very simple. We have two parts to our product to make the magic happen – haircvt.com for consumers to explore and book an appointment, and the HAIRCVT app that hairdressers use to build and manage their portfolio.
1. haircvt.com (Please see Images 3-7)
Haircvt.com allows people to shop for a hairdresser. You can refine hairstyles by location, price, salon, service or hair type, find one you like, check out the hairdresser’s portfolio and the salon page and just click to book. The site is built ‘mobile-first’ and so feels just like an app when you’re on your phone.
We are passionate about data-driven design and are constantly optimising the site with new features to improve both the experience and conversion rate.
2. The HAIRCVT app (Please see Image 8)
The HAIRCVT app, for iOS and Android, is a professional tool for hairdressers to build and manage their portfolio. In less than 30 seconds they can capture, tag and upload a new hairstyle to their portfolio. They’ve then got all of their work, on their phone, in a dedicated place – which doubles as the perfect ‘style-menu’ for their clients to choose from.
We’re constantly ‘gamifying’ the experience for them to make sure they’re driven to take the best quality pictures as often as possible and move up the rankings.
Our primary (and long-term) business model is a commission on all bookings made through us. We also make money from salon sign-up fees and product company registration fees and in the future we will look to move into a subscription model for salons.
TRACTION SO FAR
We’ve signed up more than 120 influential salons, and 500+ hairdressers in London and Paris. We work with a number of product company ‘flagship’ salons in both cities as well as household names like John Frieda and Tony and Guy.
We’ve also working with a number of international product companies including Davines, KEVIN.MURPHY, Oribe, American Crew, Baxter of California and Revlon (and in conversations with L’Oreal and Estée Lauder). We offer them contextual advertising for their products by letting hairdressers ‘tag’ them in hairstyles, and in exchange they champion us and introduce us to their network of salons – making salon acquisition significantly more efficient for us.
We’ve built what we believe to be the World’s largest collection of categorised hairstyles – a very powerful volume of content and source of valuable data.
We drove 30 bookings in December, 45 in January and 65 in February all with a similar marketing spend. Our conversion rate currently sits around 1% for London visitors – a very solid start but we have plans to drive this up significantly over the next 5 years. The volume of bookings we drive through the site is limited by the marketing budget we currently have available (one of the things we intend to use this round of funding for).
Currently 13% of our bookings are re-bookings – a number we intend to drive up notably with the funds secured (Client Lifetime Value is one of our key KPIs this year).
HAIRCVT have been written about in Stylist Magazine, Elle, Cosmopolitan, InStyle and The Daily Mail… c. 30 other publications… and counting.
For press quotes from print publications such as Stylist, Cosmopolitan and Elle, (Please see Image 9).
LondonOnTheInside (29th August 2014): http://londontheinside.com/2014/08/29/introducing-haircvt/
LDN Fashion (24th October 2014): http://www.ldnfashion.com/features/haircvt-website-set-revolutionise-choosing-hair-stylist-london/
The Debrief (30th January 2015): http://www.thedebrief.co.uk/2015/01/beauty-addict-iphone-a-few-new-beauty-apps-to-download-now#.VQwnXBCsWHx
USE OF FUNDS
Our KPIs are explained simply in Image 10. The two key areas we’re raising money to support are:
Team: To grow our tech team to help us build a more scalable product, more quickly, as well as having a devoted ‘optimisation’ role that will give us what we need to hit our KPIs. If we overfund we’ll be able to hire more experienced candidates, of which we have several waiting in the pipeline.
Marketing: As we are (in part) an e-commerce site we require a marketing budget in order to acquire customers and for them to make their first booking with us. This spend will be a split between social media advertising, Google AdWords, digital display and consumer PR to build on 2014’s success.
- The hairdressing market is worth £6bn pa in the UK and €6bn in France
- Online penetration for booking hair appointments is growing at roughly 55% year-on-year
- There is a huge growth opportunity over the next 5 years – and we estimate that in 5 years’ time 1 in 3 hair appointments will be booked online.
We’re a marketplace, and just like any other marketplace we have a supply side (hairdressers) and a demand side (consumers):
Context: For an industry that touches so many of us every couple of months, it’s remained remarkably untouched by technology and the Internet – a large majority of people still book over the phone in the beauty sector and from clients we have spoken to, rarely feel confident we’re booking the right hairdresser.
Our key focus is the top-spending 15% of the population, who we estimate are worth 33%+ of the market. These are the people that care the most about their hair and that get the most value from what we offer. So if you get your hair cut for £9 at the local barber, or your mate cuts it for you – we’re not for you just yet, and we won’t try to be.
Vision: Within 5 years we want to make sure you’d never have any reason to go elsewhere when it comes to hair – whether you’re looking for a new hairstyle and hairdresser or re-booking your existing one with just one tap of an app.
- Facebook: we currently spend c. £3k pm on targeted advertising that works very nicely for us
- SEO and AdWords: our content gives us a unique marketing opportunity to drive traffic from hairstyle keywords no-one else can really service
- PR: building on the success of last year’s PR campaign to reach new customers through the most influential publications
- Content marketing: unlike most brands, we have extremely valuable content generated every day. Content marketing is about making this work really hard for us, on the rest of the Internet
- Client-get-client ‘Uber’ model: when we have a sufficient geographical spread of salons to service demand
Context: Hairdressers are young, creative and passionate about what they do. They crave recognition and notoriety. But until now they’ve never had a dedicated place to showcase their work and get exposure to the people that really matter – potential clients.
Our strategy so far has been to sign up the most influential salons in London and Paris, before moving elsewhere. By moving top-down we’re always an aspirational platform for the people you’re talking to next – the salons and stylists they respect the most are on there and so they want to be too.
Vision: Within 3-5 years we aim to be the single most important platform for the hair industry – the place that every hairdresser wants to be seen. In fact we want to make sure that if you’re a hairdresser and you’re not on HAIRCVT, you’re essentially invisible – like being a takeaway restaurant without a presence on JustEat.
Growth: Our primary growth strategy is signing up salons. It’s the most effective way to reach large numbers of hairdressers quickly. In the immediate future the key drivers are opening up to a much wider range of hairdressers, targeted industry PR campaigns, sales through our product partners’ sales teams and… network effects – we’re seeing more and more top salons come to us each week as their mate down the road has told them about us.
As the hair industry begins to wake up to digitalisation, several players have emerged in the space – a healthy sign. Image 11 provides a clear visual summary. The most established are an online booking platform where salon owners can list their salon, and their success so far gives good validation for the demand for online booking.
We believe we offer a much more complete service – all the way from inspiration to booking. One of our key differentiators in the market is the fact that we allow people to find and book individual hairdressers, rather than just a service with an anonymous person. In the long run this is a sustainable edge for our business as we have the backing and trust of the industry from the ground up, and is also a barrier to entry to copycat businesses – hairdressers are extremely unlikely to switch to another platform once they’ve built their portfolio with us.
TRENDS AND ECONOMIC FACTORS
- Online booking: the industry is starting to wake up to marketing itself online, with the value of online bookings growing at roughly 55% pa in recent years. We believe there is a growth opportunity as the hair industry continues to drive upwards to the level of online penetration demonstrated by other markets e.g. takeaways (20-28%) and travel (45%).
- Modernisation of the hair experience: earlier in 2015, L’Oréal launched their ‘Salon Emotion’ programme which aims to “reinvent the industry and support the development of hairdressing in France and Europe”. Focused on modernising salons in all aspects of their business to improve the overall customer experience, we feel the programme is a timely reflection of the need for a digital revolution in the industry. Most product companies have significant budgets set aside for salon development, and more and more are choosing to invest parts of their budget with us to help give their salons a competitive edge.
- A stable market – until our species evolves to be completely hairless, people will be getting their haircut and always looking for better ways to do it!
Co-Founder & Head of Supply, London
Adam is in charge of the industry-facing side of the HAIRCVT brand and product, building our profile in the sector and making sure that HAIRCVT is the place that all of the best salons want to be seen.
Having worked on P&G, ASOS and Adidas during his career as a brand planner for global advertising agencies Saatchi & Saatchi and iris Worldwide, Adam knows how to build big brands that speak to their audience in the right way.
Co-Founder & Head of Demand, London (60%) / Paris (40%)
Being data-driven to the core, Tarik makes sure that we’re bringing the right audience to haircvt.com, that they book and keep on booking.
Formerly a digital strategist (and long-term friend of Adam’s) at some of the best agencies in London (M&C Saatchi most recently), his skills are well honed.
Partner & Head of Client Services, London
Alex gives our salons, stylists and customers the love they need. His primary focus is ensuring sustainable stylist engagement by championing their wants and needs within the HAIRCVT team.
A tone of voice ambassador at his previous role of copywriter at Crown Worldwide (where clients included BMW, HSBC and other letters), he knows how to talk to our customers (and make them laugh) – both inside and outside the salon.
Partner & Head of Sales, Paris
Gilles makes sure that more and more salons and stylists are on HAIRCVT, convincing a lot of the most talented hands in the industry to join our community. How? A lot of walking, a lot of knocking on doors and a lot of espresso.
His resilience, negotiation skills (he even managed to get a discount on his hip surgery!) and people skills led him to managing a team of 15 sales reps over 3 markets in his previous role – making him both the youngest and most senior sales director there.
Partner & Head of Development, London
Sam is our tech hero, building what we believe is already becoming a market-leading product. Bossing everything from servers to back-end to front-end to app to comms – Sam is a rare talent.
And don’t take our word for it – his previous work includes tech leads on projects for Adidas, Nissan and J&J whilst working at digital agencies unit9 and UsTwo.
We’ve got a balanced team of advisors that cover marketing, the hair industry, venture capital and the start-up scene. Please see Image 12 for a brief introduction.
The Exit Strategy
We’re revolutionising an under-developed market with huge growth potential, from the bottom up. In 5 years’ time we believe we’ll be making £10m+ revenue and be an attractive acquisition for:
- One of the salon booking incumbents looking to takeover a pr (e.g. Wahanda)
- A US company with similar ambitions (e.g. StyleSeat)
- An international product company who are driven by adding value and encouraging innovation for their tens of thousands of salons (e.g. L’Oreal)
But our ambitions lie bigger than that. We believe we can change the face of the hairdressing industry worldwide – in the same way that OpenTable have done for restaurants (acquired by Priceline in June 2014 for $2.6bn), JustEat done for takeaways (market cap 23/03/2015 – £2.3bn) and Airbnb are doing for travel (recent valuation at investment – $13bn).