There’s a rare breed of app like Uber, Pocket, and Venmo that make life so much easier, it’s hard to remember how things worked before. That’s how I feel about MyTime. It helps you discover nearby businesses from salons to dentists to auto shops, and instantly book an appointment without ever picking up the phone, at no extra cost. MyTime’s new app could redefine local commerce.
I’m not the only one who thinks so. MyTime won the Launch Conference’s mobile app competition last weekend. And prior to the debut of its web version in February, it raised a $3 million seed round from Mark Suster with UpFront Ventures, 500 Startups, and a slew of top-tier angels. Today it released its breezy iOS app with support for 3,000 businesses in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It lets you make appointments on the go without interrupting your life. That’s the whole point.
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It’s actually stunning that something like this didn’t exist already when you think about how much people spend on appointments and how annoying it is to book them.
MyTime Is A Digital Receptionist
Normally, you have to find a business’ phone number and call them during business hours. You might have to wade through some phone menus or be put on hold before talking to a receptionist…if you’re lucky enough that they have one. Many local businesses don’t, so if you catch the owner while they’re busy, you have to leave a message, and you might be busy when they call back.
Once you’re finally connected, you have no visual menu of options, need to go back and forth to find an appointment time when you and the merchant are available, and read them your credit card details. That’s pretty backwards for 2013. If a business happens to have web booking, it’s likely a proprietary system you’ll have to learn how to use and punch all your details into.
Because booking appointments is a chore, you book fewer. You get your haircut less frequently than you should, rarely indulge yourself with a massage, or delay getting your engine checked until there’s smoke coming out of it.
MyTime changes all of that. Open it up to see a wide variety of local services you can book. MyTime lets you search, browse by categories, filter by price and distance, and see Yelp scores to help you decide. When MyTime onboards a business, it maps out all their options and prices so you can select exactly which type of massage, hairdresser, or other details you want.
The magic happens when you choose your appointment’s time slot. MyTime has built-in integrations with dozens of calendar and appointment systems so you don’t request a slot and wait to hear back. You view live availabilities and confirm your appointment with just a few taps. You can use your saved payment details across businesses so you only have to enter them once. The whole booking process is delightfully quick and easy.
Afterwards, MyTime can add your appointment to your own calendar or Passbook, and send you a push notification when its time to book again, say six weeks later for haircuts. It adds the business to your favorites list, which can also import your phone’s address book to add businesses you already use.
MyTime can even get you discounts. Since a lot of businesses have open inventory at off-peak hours, they’re willing to drop the price to get people in the door, especially new leads. If a salon is open at 10am but never has $50 appointments booked then, it can drop the price to $30 in MyTime for those slots.
And for anyone saying “Oh, another app to help rich people buy things they don’t need”, MyTime has the potential to drastically improve business for authentic small businesses. Like how Etsy did for craft sellers and Amazon did for more traditional researchers, by creating a centralized marketplace, everyone gets more sales.
So how does MyTime make money? Well most local services are eager to sign up new customers because they have such a high lifetime value due to lots of repeat bookings. Since MyTime is so good at delivering fresh customers, processing their payments, and keeping them coming back, it charges a 40% commission on a user’s first booking with a business. After that, it takes just 3% of each repeat booking so businesses aren’t incentivized to tell customers to call them directly next time.
That initial fee might seem steep, and it is, but businesses can recoup that revenue fast. 33% of MyTime booking are repeat customers. And 44% of bookings come in after-hours when the business is closed and might have missed the sale anyways.
The app’s design is a bit sterile and could use a little pizzazz. I’d love a little victory sound when I successfully book an appointment.
MyTime has big plans to expand. CEO Ethan Anderson, who previously sold Red Beacon to Home Depot, tells me the twenty-strong company’s nine sales people are having little trouble convincing businesses to integrate. And it’s got a strategy to go beyond SF and LA. It’s set up two million “thin profiles” for businesses across the US whose calendar systems it hasn’t integrated with yet. If someone tries to book one of these, MyTime calls the business itself like a personal assistant, makes the appointment, and then tries to convince the business to come aboard. It’s got a stunning 70% success rate with that.
If MyTime seems simple and subtle, it should. Uber just finds you a taxi. Venmo just lets you pay back friends. Pocket just lets you save articles. And MyTime just books you any appointment. But the same way most people find themselves taking a lot more taxis and towncars once they have Uber, I’ve already booked two massages in two weeks with MyTime — something I’ve never done outside of vacation.
I’d never download an app for a specific business or vertical I only use a few times a year. But by aggregating all types of local services into one calendar and one payment system, I now have an app for every appointment-based business in my city. MyTime is convenience tech. And you deserve it.