Pakistan startup aims to bridge gap between salons and customers

Beauty Hooked team strikes a pose at their Lahore University of Management Sciences entrepreneurship centre. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Beauty Hooked team strikes a pose at their Lahore University of Management Sciences entrepreneurship centre. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

LAHORE: You have a go-to salon for massages but their skin treatments could put the owner to shame. You want to make an appointment but the salons phone has been busy for hours on end. All girls know these salon woes a bit too well and this is the gap in the market that Beauty Hooked tries to fill. A year after their website went live; the local beauty tech startup has received a hefty funding from Fatima Ventures of $280,000. Talking to The Express Tribune, one of the three co-founders and CEO Sahr Said divulges details about getting into the beauty industry and future of the platform.

“We got traction based on word of mouth and didn’t have resources to aggressively advertise until now,” notes Sahr, whose website caters to salons and spas of Lahore at the moment. The co-founders that also include CTO Abdullah Ahmed and Head of Operations Sidra Talha have managed to get recognised salons such as Toni & Guy and Amina Raja on board. “I took on the top salons on the platform because it was easier to get them on board especially since the owners are well-travelled and looking to do something different. Looking at them, other salons and businesses were keen on joining as well,” shared Sahr.

Accepting change is always difficult, Sahr added that pitching the concept was still troublesome. “It’s been challenging because it’s a beauty tech startup so people in this part of the world are hesitant. Since the beauty-tech merger is huge internationally, I got the idea while studying at Cornell, but an understanding of the local industry was the key to implementation.” Research led her to discover that the beauty market is highly divided as salons have little to no online presence and there is no system where services can be searched, reviewed and rated.

The biggest USP of Beauty Hooked is facilitation of appointments round the clock so businesses do not miss out on traffic. However, places such as Toni & Guy already have that system so it has not affected their business much except for the occasional appointment or two. For lower tier salons that do not have the facility, the platform has the potential to have greater impact giving them a permanent online presence. “We service their clients 24/7 and send automated reminders after appointments. The salons can also access our creative ways of marketing because any campaign we run on our platform generates traffic, making it more effective than traditional advertising.”

Beauty Hooked hopes to generate revenue through charging salons and beauty entrepreneurs either a monthly fee or a service fee which is a percentage of the booking made. “We come up with promotional campaigns and implement them on ground, charging them based on what they want,” mentioned Sahr.

On August 4 and August 5, beautician Amina Raja and Beauty Hooked organised a beauty and makeup workshop in Lahore, the first of many such projects Sahr hopes to hold. Salons also get a mini website within Beauty Hooked that they can manage on their own by updating rate list among other things.

The partners hope to expand to every city in Pakistan and ultimately take the online marketplace global. Since the platform is built around being able to compare various salons and find the best suited option Sahr wants to get all beauty businesses on board. This dream seems closer to fruition given their recent closure of an expansion deal for the Qatar market. Only time will tell whether Beauty Hooked will leave an impression on the styling industry at large.

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