What if you could instantly book any haircut, massage, dentist, or salon you found on Yelp without picking up the phone? Then you’d be using MyTime. This startup grew up fast. It raised $3 million led by UpFront Ventures, and grew to 75 employees serving millions of active users. Now MyTime is launching on Android, and building out its way to modernize independent local shops.
“There are businesses that are super verticalized like Handy and Homejoy with contractors wearing their outfits,” MyTime CEO Ethan Anderson explains about startups that come in and compete with local businesses. “MyTime is creating a platform for the millions of local businesses who want to stay independent and operate as they always have, but with the features and functionality of online booking, mobile apps, CRM…all these things that startups that have raised $50 million or $100 million have.”
Here’s how MyTime works. Open its iOS or Android apps and you can browse or search for local businesses where you want to book an appointment. You can browse reviews of car maintenance, salon treatments, handiwork at home, dentistry, physical therapy, pet walking and grooming, personal training, yoga, or just about any other type of local business service.
Once you find one you like, you can choose all the little options and extras for your appointment, look through a live calendar of available times, and book right through the app. You’ll either pay right then or at the business.
Compare that to calling businesses on the phone and going back and forth trying to find a time you’re both available. You’ll quickly realize why MyTime has a future, and why it was able to raise a $3 million Series A from Upfront, 500 Startups, Accelerator Ventures, Jason Calacanis, Brian Lee, David Tisch, Greg Badros, Adam Jackson and Evan Rifkin. Luckily for MyTime, its biggest potential competitor, Wahanda, is focused on Europe.
Giving Serious Tech To Small Businesses
Businesses dig it, too. It’s free unless they pay for extra promotion from MyTime, and even then they only pay if MyTime brings them revenue. It makes them more discoverable by new customers, and lets them dynamically price their slow hours so they sell more of their inventory. Sixty percent who get pitched by MyTime sign up, but they don’t even have to.
MyTime lists all local businesses. If you try to book one that hasn’t registered, a MyTime employee will make the phone call and book your appointment for you, then try to convince the business to jump aboard and add online booking. That’s how it’s gotten tens of thousands of businesses to claim their profiles.
MyTime is still a little clumsy to navigate on mobile, with overly hierarchical menus and poor browsing personalization. Its biggest problem, though, is that it’s easy to forget about MyTime and just book your appointments the old-school way.
“Unlike Uber, you probably don’t book local services every day. The only way to get high repeat usage is to get you booking different services so combined you might book something weekly,” Anderson admits. “That’s why we went broad, why we do cross-selling, and why we put the loyalty program in place” — where you get a free appointment after you buy three.
The Uberization Of Commerce
MyTime aligns with one of the biggest trends in consumer apps today: The “Uberization” of mobile. Essentially, that means that users want apps to take care of everything for them, rather than just handling one part of an experience. They don’t want an app to find taxi phone numbers or even hail one; they want an app that lets them track the cab and pay, too. MyTime doesn’t just help you find local businesses. It lets you book the appointments, pay and get a reminder when it’s time for your visit.
A few days ago when I spoke to Anderson, he told me that of course there’s a risk that bigger local business platforms barge into MyTime’s Space. But he explained, “Yelp is more about reviews and discovery, and a little bit about community, but less about transactions, less about bookings, less about commerce. It’s like comparing a content site to Amazon.”
Well, apparently Yelp realized it needed to get into the Uberization trend, because yesterday it acquired food delivery service Eat24 for $134 million so you can find and order food all at once.
Most local businesses will never be savvy enough to build their own mobile apps to take advantage of this trend. But thanks to MyTime, they don’t need to.