From manicures to haircuts, spray tans to brow shapes, more than 50,000 Kiwi women have had their beauty needs met in the past three years thanks to innovative Kiwi startup, Flossie. Now, the company has made the leap to Australia and is firmly eyeing up the UK.
Flossie is the next-generation beauty commerce startup which has changed the landscape of bookings in New Zealand. We talk to Jenene Crossan, founder and CEO of Flossie, about her journey.
An innovative approach to beauty services
Flossie is a booking app that acts as a smart payment service. It helps hair and beauty salons fill their spare capacity with prepaid customers.
Jenene and her team chose the salon industry as the first market to roll their technology platform into. This is because salons, on average, only sell 65% of their time. No-shows, which can occur at rates of up to 35% on a daily basis, also hit them hard. “Unsold time costs businesses money. Flossie brings them paid-up customers filling up their spare capacity”.
Flossie users can access hundreds of thousands of salon appointments across Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and now Melbourne, from the palm of their hands. Busy women can book and prepay in seconds, without having to talk to someone. Users know they can book with confidence, as Flossie only brings on salons that have been recommended by a customer. The salon is then tested twice by the Flossie team.
The leap across the Tasman
After more than 1000% growth in the last 18 months in New Zealand, Jenene and the team were eyeing up bigger markets and opportunities offshore. The first logical step was to launch Flossie in Melbourne earlier this year. It was a move that presented its share of opportunities and challenges.
“New Zealand is tough because of its size, but people are generally willing to give you a chance. That means with enough tenacity you can usually get started and build something interesting. In Australia, we certainly find a stronger level of cynicism, usually derived from a glut of sales people knocking on doors over-promising and under-delivering,” says Jenene.
With no Australian track record, Flossie has been able to establish credibility in this challenging market by partnering with customers first. “We’re having them tell our story, introduce us to their favourite brands and salons and we’re also partnering with suppliers to the industry. It really is a case of starting from scratch. That’s a good learning curve for us though, as we look to build a model that can be then transferred into other new markets.”
Drivers for growth
Flossie’s success comes from a core focus on a constantly evolving customer experience and a curated supply of appointments. It’s by bringing these two things together – creating an exceptional user experience – that Flossie is able to clearly differentiate itself.
“Whilst others are essentially ‘Groupon with a booking button’, we knew that with a premium offering consistently delivering on the promise to make life easier we’d have high repeat visitation.”
Successful growth also meant avoiding ‘hand to hand combat’ for supply. “Instead of building a base of salons via a sales force, we sought to rely on an existing network and established relationships (inspired by the approach Xero took with accountants).”
Lessons learned from raising capital
Launching Flossie in Melbourne was a vital next step for the innovative app to reach new markets. Raising the necessary capital wasn’t without its challenges, though. In particular, Jenene is frustrated with the reality that only 4% of venture capital funds go to women-led businesses.
“It’s incredibly frustrating when you know you have a multi billion dollar market to play in. You have a proven business model that is performing at exceptional rates of growth. You just need capital to go and take it global.”
But raising capital to launch in New Zealand, Australia and now potentially further afield has taught Jenene some valuable lessons. One of those is getting very good at figuring out how to keep growing without having funds.
“We’ve excelled in this space and it’s led us to make sharp, considered and wildly unexpected and imaginative decisions that have all led to great outcomes.”
The future of Flossie
Having tested the international waters in Australia, Jenene thinks now’s the time to explore opportunities for Flossie in London.
“It’s ripe for us to get up there, as their first-generation market place has grown substantial revenues and exited. The time is now for a premium next-generation offering and we’re excited to bring to life some of our next iterations.”
Closer to home, users can look forward to a product aspect being introduced to Flossie in the coming months, as well as a subscription model. “For salons, the salon tool will be relaunched shortly with some exceptional business insight tools. We know our vendors will love them, and they are unlike anything else our salons have – it’s all coming together!”
Photo of Jenene courtesy of Co of Women.