Budget salon aggregator GlamStudios raises seed funding

Delhi-based GlamStudios, which claims to be India’s first online aggregator of budget salons, has secured an undisclosed amount in seed funding from former Rategain COO Aqeel Ahmed, it said in a statement.

Glam Online Pvt Ltd, the company that runs the startup, will use the money raised for reaching out to 5,000-odd customers and to create a network of 40 salons within two months. It also intends to develop a mobile app.

Ahmed was COO at Noida-based RateGain IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd., which runs a SaaS-based software solutions deck for travel and hospitality industry, between 2005 and 2015. His other investments include recruitment portal MyHiringBox.com and an e-commerce site selling building materials.

Sadiya Naseem, founder and CEO of GlamStudios, said she estimates there are about one lakh budget salons in India. A majority of these salons are in the unorganised sector, she said. It is this market opportunity that the startup aims to tap into.

According to Sadiya, the prices offered by budget salons are 30-40 per cent lower than those offered by established brands. She said that GlamStudios partners with salons that have an area of 400 square feet and who offer services starting as low as Rs 20.

One challenge that the startup faces, according to RateGain's Ahmed, is tracking payments. “In the unorganised sector there is hardly any custom of issuing receipts. It’s just cash payments. The only challenge is having the capability to recognise revenue in an automated way which the company is already working on,” said Ahmed.

“We knew that if we start a franchise model for budget salons, they will not be able to bear the cost. So we went ahead with the aggregation model. We tie up with existing salons who are struggling for business,” she said.

The startup modifies the budget salons to suit its branding standards, and bears the cost for that change. It also trains the staff of its partner salons. Besides, it offers its customer relationship management software to the salons to fully automate their operations and ensure quality of services.

“Once the salon changes its identity completely from its existing name, we have full control on the salons for their aesthetics, operational processes, rates and promotions,” Sadiya explained. The firm takes 30 per cent commission from the salons on gross revenue.

GlamStudios has 10 operational salons across the NCR region and plans to add 30 more within 40 days. It claims to have serviced 150 clients and sold 200 annual memberships on the first day of its operations. The firm aims to have 100 salons in six months and 500 salons in the next one year.

Currently operational in Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida, it aims to expand to 10 destinations, with launches in Faridabad and Gurgaon expected soon.

GlamStudios was conceptualised in October 2015 by IIM-Calcutta alumnus Sadiya, who previously worked with budget hotels aggregator OYO Rooms. The founding team comprises COO Darakhshan Husain, a fashion management graduate from NIFT, and CTO Feeroz, an IIT-Delhi alumnus.

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