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A turn-up for the books – How Booksy went from small start-up to 13m customers

Johannesburg, 03 Nov 2021
Read time 4min 20sec

The world of business and commerce was turned upside down in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic sent employees home and closed the doors to many businesses –some, unfortunately, for good. While you’d be forgiven for thinking it was all doom and gloom, a few innovative brands have managed to not just survive, but to positively flourish during what has been some of the darkest days for business in most of our lifetimes. One of these businesses is Chicago-based Booksy

Poles apart for innovation

Founded in 2014 by Polish entrepreneurs, Stefan Batory and Konrad Howard, Booksy is an appointment booking and management system created for the hair and beauty industry. The platform and app takes the strain out of booking appointments by allowing customers to quickly and easily make and manage appointments through a mobile phone app. The platform also offers some unique and innovative features for salon owners, including salon management, staff co-ordination, sales and marketing and payment and pre-payment – all through Booksy’s user-friendly app and interface. Booksy’s founders say the use of the software increases appointment frequency by 20%, offering a much-needed boost to beleaguered salons.

From little acorns

In just seven short years, Booksy has seen stratospheric growth and now has a whopping 13 million customers in a number of countries, including the USA, the UK, Poland, Spain, Brazil and South Africa. Stefan Batory explains how it all began: “I needed to book time with my massage therapist, but I was trying to reach him after my long runs, which typically happened in the middle of the night. Being a CEO, husband, father and runner meant I got creative about when I ran – usually after midnight. My therapist would get back to me mid-morning, when I was in back-to-back meetings. This phone and text tag went on over several days, and I still wasn’t able to get in to see him. Through all this back and forth, I realised there had to be a better way to book appointments. We do nearly everything else in life online, so why couldn’t we book appointments for things like stylists, massage therapists, nails… any self-care activity the same way?"

It seems that many of Booksy’s customers can relate to Batory’s ideology, as figures show that 38% of its customers are now booking their appointments outside of normal working hours.

Paying more than lip service

As Booksy surges ahead, not even a global pandemic can halt its progress and the dynamic duo have recently raised a staggering $119 million in Series C funding from Cat Rock Capital and Sprints Capital (with participation by OpenOcean, Piton Capital, VNV Global, Enem, Kai Hansen, Zach Coelius and Manta Ray Ventures). Batory says: "Like with many sectors negatively hit by the pandemic, it’s been a turbulent time for the beauty and wellness industry, but we’re confident in its ability to come back from this; so it’s fantastic to see our latest group of investors share our optimism and vision."

This comprehensive new funding will allow Booksy to reach new heights – and new territories, including North America, as well as expanding the business into new verticals and complementary ventures. Of the collaboration, founder and managing partner at Cat Rock Capital, Alex Captain, says: "We are incredibly excited to invest in Booksy as it builds the leading global software platform for digitising the beauty and wellness industry around the world."  Based in London’s Greenwich, Cat Rock Capital is a leading provider of investment advisory and portfolio management services.

Making connections

This new round of investment is the latest in a series of triumphs for Booksy. In 2018, the brand acquired one of its main rivals, Lavito, a service booking platform. Further to this, in 2020, Booksy crossed the border into Mexico through a merger with Tempe-based service and management platform, Versum. Booksy’s new investment and collaboration endeavours have seen the brand soar ahead of competitors such as Treatwell, Vagaro, Mindbody and USA-based Styleseat. Co-founder and partner of Piton Capital, Andrin Bachmann said of the new investment: “We are delighted to back Stefan and the entire team at Booksy again. They are starting to see the benefits of a strong network effect, and we believe they have an opportunity to build the leading SaaS-enabled marketplace in the beauty industry in the US and beyond.”

Look to the future now – it’s only just begun

While, for the moment, Booksy’s founders are staying tight-lipped about any new plans for 2022, the company’s upward trajectory doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on this smash hit success story as we head into the new year. 

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