Vaniday, the online marketplace for beauty and wellness professionals co-founded by e-commerce behemoth and ‘startup builder’ Rocket Internet, has bagged its first major round of funding.
The burgeoning company has raised €15 million of investment from Rocket Internet and others — money co-founder and CEO Maxime Legardez tells me will be used to bed down in existing markets and enter new ones, in addition to improving the experience for customers.
The latter will involve signing up more beauty and wellness professionals to the platform and offering them better tools for acquiring and managing customers — think CRM, marketing and online-booking — with the aim of significantly increasing the scope and quality of Vaniday’s inventory, which includes massages, haircuts, make-up, waxing and yoga classes.
The Rocket Internet startup first launched in Brazil, where Legardez was previously managing director of the online take-out ordering service HelloFood, but has since expanded to the U.K., Italy, France and the UAE, signing up 1,500 salons.
He wouldn’t say specifically where Vaniday will open up shop next but says the company plans to be present in five continents. “We don’t see any global competitors, we only see nationalwide, new players entering the market,” he adds, noting that these tend to be focused on one vertical within the beauty and wellness sector.
Either way, local competitors will be well aware of the Rocket Internet threat and some are fuelling up on capital with caution. For example, when Urban Massage — which like U.S. competitor Zeel offers massages only — raised new funding in June, the London-based startup elected not to disclose the amount.
“We collectively decided to keep the funding amount undisclosed as it will give our game away somewhat,” Urban Massage co-founder and CEO Jack Tang told me at the time. “Rocket and newcomers are coming into the space and we want to keep things under the radar. We will be raising another round in about 12 months and already chatting to various later-stage funds.”
Meanwhile, Vaniday’s Legardez says the biggest challenge the company faces is bringing awareness to customers who may not have previously booked beauty and wellness professionals online or via a mobile app. In a sense it’s a familiar problem and playbook, migrating an age-old multibillion-dollar industry online.
To that end, Vaniday will be investing in online and offline marketing channels, as well as building its brand within the existing beauty and wellness community.