Vaniday: Alex Meyer
The start-up's founder discusses his plans to revolutionise the beauty industry and why working with entrepreneurs inspired him to leave the corporate world
Name: Alex Meyer
Company name: Vaniday
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 30 April 2015
Tell us what your business does:
Vaniday is an international network that connects clients directly with a wide variety of beauty and wellness services. Our mission is to revolutionise the way people discover and book anything from a manicure, massage, acupuncture or yoga class.
We ultimately aim to make booking beauty and wellness services as accessible online as accommodation, shopping and transport is.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Beauty is one of the few segments that has still not fully transitioned from offline to online yet. In today's age one can easily book almost anything online or via an app. Making a reservation at a restaurant, booking a flight, requesting a taxi – it is all incredibly simple.
We wanted to do the same for the beauty and wellness industry, and we saw a clear need for a better way for customers to discover new beauty professionals and salons, which makes businesses more accessible and profitable in the process.
How did you know there was a market for it?
The UK beauty and personal care market ranks fourth in Europe and continues to grow at a rapid pace. There are more than 30.000 registered beauty salons and around 180,000 professionals, all of which could benefit from the opportunity to be assessed and recommended by Vaniday's visitors. Also on average salons that offer online booking have revenues that are 30% higher than salons that don’t, so it’s a real no-brainer for the businesses who choose to work with us.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was working in investment banking for about five years at an independent advisory firm in Paris. During that time I advised medium-sized companies on mergers & acquisitions, with a focus on the internet and digital media sectors.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, for as long as I can remember I have always wanted to do things my own way and liked to be disruptive, which proved difficult in a sector so established and normalized as banking. Having had chance to advise fast-growing businesses and tech entrepreneurs it became very clear that I wanted to be a bigger part of the start-up revolution.
How did you raise the money?
We are mainly backed by Rocket Internet. We presented our idea, and Rocket saw the enormous potential of this market in the UK and globally. Our pool of investors is growing rapidly and they share our vision.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We are determined to be the ultimate go-to destination for a wide range of beauty and wellness services. We are focused on a rapid global expansion, establishing one market after the other. We have launched in three countries on two continents since launching in the UK.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge we face everyday is keeping in phase with a market as mature and as competitive as the UK one. Customers are extremely demanding and new competitors emerge everyday. You never get a second chance for a first impression so you have to be extremely careful.
What was your first big breakthrough?
After we secured over 500 professionals for our website and were able to go live with the site.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Be ready for a tough ride, nothing ever goes as planned and you will go through major phases where everything is put into question. However, nothing in the world is quite as satisfactory as when you earn a victory.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
Personally, I would like to live on another continent and continue be a driving force in Vaniday's global expansion; eventually I want the business to be the international beauty and wellness empire that we set it out to be.