StyleSeat, an online marketplace for Stylists & Beauty Pros startup, has raised $25 million in Series B funding round led by Fosun Kinzon Capital. Other participants include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Cowboy Ventures and Slow Ventures.
Founded in 2011 by Melody McCloskey, the startup StyleSeat helps independent beauty professionals like stylist, colorists, manicurists, masseuses and others schedule their clients and manage their business. The startup handles schedules, payments, taxes and CRM and allows the professionals to showcase their work. The service is available in website and app to book appointments with the participating professionals. It has more than 32K professionals in 15,000 cities and has had more than 20 million appointments since its inception and is expecting around $1 billion in appointments to go through the site this year with more than 75% on the mobile app.
On average, these professionals have increased around 68% of their revenue in just first 15 months of venturing in the platform. The growth in the revenue is majorly due to the reach of other marketing tools StyleSeat provides and also being available online. The freemium-based service charges for access to pro tools involving email marketing, advanced scheduling, reminder and more. It has also been trying to make money through on-site ads, where it would take 30% from the bookings.
The Silicon Valley company raised $14 million last year with early investments from Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, and celebrity investors Ashton Kutcher and Sophia Bush which was used to grow the platform and the employee team. With the current funding, the startup plans to improve on the services, technology and to stay a step ahead of its competitors. It is looking forward to build her team and add more services for both professionals and consumers. It has recently hired Scot Gensler, a market strategist who previously worked for Current Media, Sony’s Crackle, Livefyre, as Vice President of Business and Corporate Development.
The company’s competitors includes Lifebooker, which consists of range of beauty professions on its broader platform and many apps that focused on beauty and wellness like Vagaro and Beautified. In the U.K, booking platform Wahanda recently raised $73 million and has acquired many young startups.
Managing partner of Fosun Kinzon, Brad Bao considers the company has a niche as it focuses only on the independent professionals. “These are skilled workers, and in a sense their inventory is time, not property as with an Uber driver’s car or someone’s house on Airbnb,” says Bao. So stylists love it because it helps them better use their time and it brings them more customers.” Also, the company’s aggressive approach to constantly innovating and improving the product grabbed the attention of Bao. “That’s essential in the online marketplace. Consumer will go to a platform that has the best talent,” says Bao.
McCloskey and the co-founder Dan Levine were working together for CurrentTV when she came up with the idea for business. “I realized how many were entrepreneurs and while they were incredibly passionate about what they do, they were less interested in running businesses,” said McCloskey. The professionals partnered with the site are mostly women and half are minorities. More than 80% of them are working outside of the top 10 cities.
The company was bootstrapped until it gained some attention through TechStars. MCCloskey say it was quite difficult to find a VC to fund the idea. “Silicon Valley is very male, and the beauty industry is off their radar. I’d tell them the average women spends $3000 on beauty services a year and they wouldn’t believe me,” she says. Despite of all the hurdles, the company is running steady and profitable.
McClosekey is very proud to say that until date the site has grown entirely through word-of-mouth.