LookBooker is an online booking aggregator for the hair and beauty industry (hairdressers, barbers, massage, nails etc) that allows consumers to search, browse, and instantly confirm salon appointments online… anytime, anywhere. LookBooker is available on all web and mobile devices and displays availabilities and confirms reservations in real time, 24/7 as well as displaying salon profiles, photos, and curated reviews. Our vision is to move bookings in the salon industry online, away from outdated and inefficient phone and walk-ins, and be the player that aggregates the highly fragmented supply side for consumers. We want to create a marketplace that connects consumers and salons in a way that is simple, fast, and beneficial for everyone…think of it as the OpenTable or ZocDoc of hair and beauty.
LookBooker’s users are busy men and women who are looking for an easy, convenient, and discrete way to schedule their next salon appointment. We launched in Singapore in July 2014 and already have over 60 salons on the platform, with more being added every day, and are heading to New York later this year!
We conducted an interview with two very passionate entrepreneurs – Renee Robbie and Giorgia Rossi, founders of LookBooker. Read on more below to find out their inspirational story and how they balance work and life. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
How did you come up with the name for your company?
LookBooker is about helping people make bookings for everything hair and beauty related to do with their looks, so “Look” and “Booker” came together naturally. We tested it with our friends, families, and lots of salons and they loved it, so it stuck!
How did you get funded initially?
Our initial funding has come from a great group of angels, spread across the globe from Australia, the US, Singapore, and even Dubai, who are all keen to have online salon booking available in their cities! We are currently fundraising and looking at bringing institutional investors into the LookBooker family.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
LookBooker was founded with just the two of us (Renee and Giorgia) for the first six months. We have now grown to a team of 5 full-timers plus a number of part timers. Our team is what makes LookBooker hum, we are fortunate to go to work every day with a talented group of people who are just as passionate about connecting salons and consumers as we are.
How many failed startups were you involved in before this?
None. LookBooker is our first start up, though we both come from very entrepreneurial families who operate multiple businesses. Growing up, business strategizing was standard dinner table talk, so in many ways we feel like we’ve been part of small and growing businesses our whole lives.
What’s the top 5 Struggles you face as an Entrepreneur?
Switching off – starting a business is all consuming: it’s what you go to bed thinking about and wake up thinking about, it’s working 18 hour days and feeling like you have only ticked a fraction of the to-do list. We know the value of stepping back and recharging, but it’s certainly easier said than done… we’re working on it!
Wearing all the hats at once – It’s what we love about being entrepreneurs, but it requires incredible flexibility and adaptability. In the space of one day we will go from helping to on-board a one-lady salon, to pitching to a large investor, to running payroll, to helping our team prioritise what’s on their plate, to reviewing our latest technical changes. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air and we ruthlessly prioritise every day to make sure we’re focusing on the right ones.
Swallowing pride on the product – The only want to find out what the market truly wants is to have your product out there with real customers using it. We went from a vague concept to having real salons and consumers using LookBooker in under six months, and what gets them excited is not always what we predicted, so you have to swallow your pride, and move the product very quickly in the direction of what the market wants, even if it’s not the way you planned for it to evolve originally.
Building the best possible team – We have a rule that we don’t hire anyone onto our team that we’re not absolutely crazy about, and those people are very rare to find. We are fortunate to have an amazing and growing team, but finding those people takes time, effort, and wading through a lot of people who don’t fit.
Taking time out to raise funds – We see raising funds to support the business as part of the job, and investments will help us grow at the rapid pace we’re currently experiencing, but as passionate operators we’d rather spend our time operating!
At which point will you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur?
We already consider ourselves successful! The first day we had a consumer book an appointment with a salon via LookBooker – solving a real problem for both those parties – we chalked ourselves up as successful. We’ve now had hundreds of bookings and the number grows every day; each appointment for us is a little stamp of success.
What inspires you? Or Who?
We are passionate about the success of women in business, and particularly technology. Latest figure suggest that only 3% of technical founders are female. Being part of this tiny minority, we find inspiration in the fellow female founders we’re fortunate enough to meet and who are forging the path ahead and beside of us to improve these numbers.
Do you have an inspiring quote which you like to share?
If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough
What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs getting started?
Be able to articulate what your business is and what problem it’s solving in under 30 seconds.
Speak to other founders: it’s a warm and welcoming network of people who have been there and done that, and there’s nowhere more valuable to go for advice.
Be kind to yourself: try and get 7 hours sleep, forgive yourself if you let that email slip until tomorrow, know that every other founder has probably felt as stressed as you do – nothing is more central to the success of your start-up than your health and happiness.
Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
Instagram – for letting the world know what LookBooker loves when it comes to the latest hair and beauty trends
Sunrise – our go-to calendaring app for a hectic schedule
Pocket – we’re prolific readers and this lets us save all the great things we come across
7 Minute Workout – the most exercise we’re managing these days
Duolingo – for aspirational after-hours language learning
Your Social Connections?
Twitter handle: @_lookbooker
Instagram handle: @_lookbooker
Pinterest name: lookbooker1