“I don’t know anyone who likes calling businesses. It’s not fast or convenient, and it definitely doesn’t feel like the future.” Mark Zuckerberg may as well have been explaining the need for MyTime when he said that last month about Messenger’s upcoming business chat feature. But while Facebook’s just getting started, MyTime’s been working on its app to let people book haircuts, massages, pet grooming and more for four years.
Now MyTime’s just raised a $9.25 million Series B led by Upfront Ventures and Khosla Ventures to challenge big scheduling tool makers like MindBody and Booker, and make it even easier for merchants to jump on board.
Uber lets you book and pay for taxis from an app, no phone calls required. MyTime wants to bring the same smooth scheduling and payment technology to all local service merchants, especially those who can’t build their own apps.
The Local Logistics Layer
Before MyTime, here’s how annoying it was to book an oil change, dentist, or personal trainer. Typically, you’d have to:
- Research different businesses, find one’s number, and call
- Get put on hold, or if it’s after hours, get a voicemail and have to call back
- Talk through complicated sets of options to choose the appointment you want to book
- Go back and forth trying to find a time you and the merchant are both free
- Read them credit card info or hassle with paying in person
- Call and do it all again next time you want an appointment
If you’re lucky, they have a clunky website where you can try to schedule, but it probably doesn’t work on mobile. You have to re-enter personal and payment info for each merchant, and there’s no good communication channel between you.
MyTime’s goal is to make scheduling as seamless as possible. With its app, you can:
- Search or browse local businesses in different categories, see reviews, or easily select one you’ve already visited
- Choose all your options and pick a time in the app 24 hours a day without having to talk to a human
- Get automatically billed with your payment info on file, and re-book easily since MyTime remembers your choices
That experience sounds much silkier, but most merchants lack the know-how to build their own scheduling app. They need a tech company to fill in the missing mobile logistics layer with an app that aggregates supply. And so the way Instacart brought delivery to grocery stores, and Uber equipped town car drivers with a way find work, MyTime opens a mobile scheduling and payment channel for local services.
Already, nearly 1 million people are booking through MyTime each month from over 2 million businesses listed in the app. In exchange for optional help to get service providers discovered, MyTime earns a 37% commission on new customers it brings to merchants.
With Facebook and others beginning to eye the commerce logistics business, MyTime wants to accelerate growth. That’s why it’s raised $9.25 million led by Mark Suster with Upfront Ventures, and Keith Rabois with Khosla Ventures. Daher capital, Accelerator Ventures, and shopping mall operator Westfield also joined the round that brings MyTime to $12.25 million in funding.
A Skirmish For Scheduling
With the new money, MyTime is launching a big new back-end scheduling tool designed to lure businesses to its platform. The MyTime Scheduler offers web, iOS, and Android apps where merchants can setup and check appointments, message clients, and the boss can decide who can see who’s schedule.
MyTime’s Scheduler is barging into a crowded market, though. MindBody has stockpiled $108 million and has 42,000 clients. Booker has 60,000 professionals on its $77 million-funded system. StyleSeat has raised $14.9 million to chase the beauty scheduling market, and european MyTime competitor Wahanda has raised $37.6 million.
That’s why MyTime is going hard at the market, undercutting its competitors. To process payments, it only charges 2.69%, which beats Square’s 2.75% and other more pricey ways to do transactions. MyTime Scheduler costs just $10 a month for sole proprietors and $20 per month per location for businesses with multiple employees. That’s way lower than the $30 and $60 plans from MindBody, and the $45 and $85 tiers from Booker.
That doesn’t mean these scheduling giants will go down easy. They’re entrenched with merchants. But MyTime hopes its free data transition option and extra features will convince businesses to switch.
For example, merchants can upload their CRM of existing customers, and any who use MyTime will automatically see that business in their Favorites list. It’s building out its chat feature so you can instant message your merchant to tell them you’re late or reconfigure something. And MyTime has built a specialty pricing option, so if you’re a friend or shrewd negotiator, they can give you a permanent price discount in the app.
How Many Weeks Between Haircuts?
MyTime’s biggest challenge is getting around one immutable fact about mobile apps: If you don’t need to use them frequently enough, you forget they exist entirely. I got a great massage through MyTime, but didn’t need it for the next month, so I forgot to book my next hair cut and smog check through it. MyTime will have to aggregate enough oft-used businesses and send the right notifications to keep me booking through it without getting annoying.
Time seems to be on the startup’s side, though. 65% of its bookings now come from mobile. As the world shifts to the small screen, local merchants will need help equipping themselves for the new era. Now MyTime can capitalize on that shift with Scheduler subscriptions, earning a small spread on credit card transactions, and taking a commission on new customers it brings businesses.
If MyTime can give any business an Uber-like experience that boosts sales, merchants will make time for it.