StyleSeat, a sort of OpenTable for beauty appointments, hopes to expand like crazy with the additional capital. By Betsy Mikel (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)
With more of us than ever multi-tasking on-the-go — including women such as herself — Melody McCloskey thought there had to be a better way to book beauty appointments. She co-founded StyleSeat in 2011, and now you can book a haircut, manicure, and even personal trainer through through the company's app and website. Similarly to OpenTable, StyleSeat allows clients to book available beauty professionals in almost 15,000 cities across the U.S.
And it's poised to grow. Forbes recently named StyleSeat as one of the top four marketplaces of 2014, citing the fact that beauty professionals only book 70% of their available time and lack the resources to expand their business on their own. StyleSeat is not only an easy way for clients to book appointments, but also offers professionals tools to market their business.
The startup just announced a $10.3 million Series A investment led by Lightspeed Ventures to help it accomplish this expansion. StyleSeat has been primarily focused on building its platform for beauty professionals, and plans to use the capital to focus more on clients. The startup aims to nearly double its team this year to further develop its platform to create new experiences for clients booking appointments.
“We plan to support current growth and also scale up our team so we can create the features our community is asking for and that we believe will drive even stronger growth in the future,” co-founder and CEO Melody McCloskey explained to Women 2.0 in an email.
The platform has grown so rapidly that $350 million in services were booked through the service since 2011. In 2013, more than 5.5 million appointments were made through StyleSeat, and since launching a new app last month that allows clients to book through their phone for free, mobile bookings are up 16%. Venture capitalists noticed.
“StyleSeat has quickly become a highly valued brand by both stylists and consumers since its launch in 2011,” said Justin Caldbeck, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, in a press release. “The team has clearly demonstrated their ability to grow rapidly, organically through word of mouth and I look forward to partnering with them as they enter this next phase of growth.”
McCloskey attributes much of this growth to that elusive golden ticket every startup wishes for: viral growth. A strong sense of mission at the startup doesn't hurt either. McCloskey says her team is driven by how their product helps independent beauty professionals grow their businesses.
“I am especially proud of the literally life-changing experiences StyleSeat is delivering to beauty pros,” McCloskey said. “For example, we have a hair stylist who gained 650 new clients in six months as a result of using our platform. Stories like that are really inspiring to us."
Betsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter and content strategist who helps brands, businesses and entrepreneurs tell their stories. A journalist at heart, her curiosity drives her to find something new to learn every single day. Follow her on Twitter at @betsym.