Beauty and wellness businesses have come back to life with the decline of Covid-19 restrictions, and a startup that has built a platform that meets the many needs of small businesses in the industry today announces big funding for grow with them.
Fresha – a versatile business tool for independent wellness and beauty businesses such as hair, nail and skin salons, yoga instructors and more, primarily based on a completely free platform enabling to these companies to plan customer reservations – raised $ 100 million.
Fresha plans to use the funds to expand the list of countries in which it operates, to expand the categories of businesses that use its services (mental health practitioners is one example; fitness is another) and to create more services that complement what it already provides, helping clients do their jobs by providing them with more information and data on what they are already doing. It will also make acquisitions to expand its customer base.
General Atlantic is leading this Series C, with Huda Kattan, Michael Zeisser of FMZ Ventures and Jonathan Green of Lugard Road Capital, as well as former investors Partech, Target Global and FJ Labs.
Fresha has raised $ 132 million to date and is not disclosing her valuation. But for reference, when it closed its Series B (as Shedul; the company changed its name in February 2020), it was valued at $ 105 million.
Chances are, that number is significantly higher now.
Fresha’s current range of services includes a free platform for appointment scheduling; free account management software; a payment service that includes both a physical point of sale and a digital interface; and a wider market both for supplying goods to businesses (B2B); and for businesses to sell goods to customers (B2C).
The London-based company has 50,000 professional clients and 150,000 stylists and professionals in more than 120 countries (mainly UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe), with some 250 million appointments booked to date.
And while many businesses had to downsize (and in some countries had to shut down altogether), Fresha found that it attracted many new businesses in part because of its ‘free’ model which meant that customers didn’t have to. pay to maintain a booking platform at a time when they weren’t taking bookings, but could use Fresha to generate income in other ways (e.g., through the sale of goods, vouchers for future services, etc. .)
So, in a year when you would have thought that a business based on providing services to industries hard hit by Covid would have been hit hard as well, in fact Fresha saw its card payment transactions increase 30 times over. the year before, and more. more than 12 billion dollars of appointments made on its platform.
In a very crowded marketplace of tech companies building platforms to book beauty (and other) services and run the business of independent retailers – they include giants like Lightspeed POS, as well as smaller players like Booksy ( which has also recently grown) and StyleSeat but also players like Square and PayPal, and many others – the heart of Fresha’s offering is a booking platform designed as a completely free product.
Why free? To attract more users to its other services (such as payments, which has a price), and because co-founders William Zeqiri (CEO) and Nick Miller (product manager) – pictured above, respectively at left and right – think this is the only way to start a business like this in a crowded market.
“We think software is a commodity,” Zeqiri said in an interview. “Many of our competitors are fighting each other over the lowest prices. We wanted to consolidate the supply side of the software, collect data on companies, how they use what they use.
This data has led, first of all, to identifying the need for just one and creating one all the time and launching its B2B and B2C markets, and the idea is that it will probably lead to more products to as it continues to mature, whether it be better analyzes for its current clients so that they can better price or develop their services accordingly; or entirely new tools for new categories of users.
Meanwhile, the services it already provides like payments have taken off like a bang, not least because they have fulfilled a need for all virtual transactions like the sale of vouchers or items.
Miller noted that while many of his customers actually interface with technology with a great deal of reluctance – they’re the essence of “physical” retailers when you think about it – they’ve also found themselves forced to simply use more digital services. due to the circumstances. “Looking back on what happened, the adoption of the technology has accelerated for our customers,” Miller said. He said current customer usage for point-of-sale systems and online payments is roughly equal.
Looking ahead, Fresha’s list of investors stands out for its strategic mix and could shed light on its development. Kattan, a “beauty influencer” and founder of Huda Beauty, invests through HB Investments, a strategic venture capital arm; while Zeisser’s FMZ now focuses on investing in the ‘experience economy’, but it itself has a long history of working in technology companies creating markets, including years with Alibaba at the head of its investment practices in the United States. These relate to areas where Fresha is likely interested in expanding its reach: more activity in the market; and maybe more social media and exposure angles for its clients at a time when social media has really become a key way for beauty and wellness companies to market themselves.
“Fresha has become a leader in the beauty and wellness industry,” Aaron Goldman, global co-head of financial services and general manager of General Atlantic, said in a statement. “William, Nick and the Fresha team have built a product that resonates with the market and creates long-term value through the intersection of its payment, software and market offerings. We are excited to partner with the company and believe that Fresha has a significant opportunity to further develop its innovative platform. “
“I have witnessed Fresha’s positive impact on beauty entrepreneurs,” Kattan added. “The company is a positive force in the growing community of beauty professionals around the world, who increasingly take an independent approach. By making the best business software available without any subscription fees, Fresha allows professionals to focus on what they do best: delivering great experiences to their customers.