The latest venture to feature in our One to Watch series is Phorest, a new start-up that’s on a mission to gain a global stake in the software and booking space for the hair and beauty industry.
Phorest provides hair and beauty salons in Ireland and the UK with software to run aspects of their business, such as taking appointments, marketing, and point of sale, and allows such salons to take bookings online through their website and through Facebook.
The company is based in Dublin and now employs 35 people.
"Phorest came into being when the girlfriend of my co-founder who owned a salon needed a way of cutting down on no-shows which were costing her business about €20,000 a year," explains co-founder and CEO Ronan Perceval. "We built a little calendar app to text appointment reminders and it worked a treat – cutting down no-shows by more than 70pc," he says.
"The word got out and other salons started calling. We hadn’t planned on getting into the hair and beauty sector at all; it was meant to be just a side project. But we woke up one day to find we had 30 salons on our books so we ditched all our other ideas and focused on really helping the business owners in this market."
While the co-founders bootstrapped the business for the first six years, Phorest carried out its first seed funding round of €1.2m in August 2011.
"We had built up a decent profitable business without outside funding and because we retained 100pc control during that period it allowed us to experiment with our product and strategy until we were sure we had something that was world beating. At that point we needed to raise capital to really expand the business," says Perceval.
Phorest launched in the UK two years ago and is preparing to launch into the US next year.
Explains Perceval: "We have set ourselves an ambitious goal of helping 1m salons with their business. The next jump is to launch in the US. We are also focused on developing the online booking side of our business, where less than 1pc of the bookings made on our platform are currently made online, but this is growing like wildfire."
Watch our video interview with Ronan Perceval, co-founder and CEO of Phorest, here:
HBAN is an all-island umbrella organisation which promotes business angel investment, and creates business angel syndicates, to enable investment in innovative companies like Phorest. "We are in the process of establishing two more syndicates in the mobile and med-tech sectors, and we’d encourage anyone interested in becoming a business angel in one of these new syndicates to get in touch," says Michael Culligan, national director at HBAN. For further information, go to the HBAN website.
The One to Watch series is made possible through the support of NDRC, HBAN and Enterprise Ireland