Beauty and wellness booking platform Bookwell has completed a $1.25 million funding round led by Gabby and Hezi Leibovich, founders of homegrown ecommerce pioneer Catch Group, with a contribution from Jeremy Same and Adam Schwab, founders of Luxury Escapes.
The brainchild of Matt Dyer and Nathan Airy, Bookwell officially launched in September, last year, with $2.6 million in seed funding. The platform connects consumers with more than 1,000 beauty salons and wellness professionals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Gold Coast. Over the past year, the company has enjoyed a 450% increase in revenue due to the addition of new salons to the platform.
The latest capital injection, comes hot on the heels of Bookwell’s acquisition of German-based competitor Vaniday Australia. Dyer previously founded food ordering platform, EatNow in 2010. After merging with rival Menulog in 2015, the combined business sold for $855M to JustEat.
According to Dyer, the funding validates the need for Bookwell in Australia’s $10 billion beauty and wellness market, and he and Airy will use it to cement their platform as the go-to destination for online beauty and wellness bookings. Specifically, the co-founders plan to grow their product development and sales teams, develop new product features for business partners and increase consumer choices on the site.
Asked what attracted Catch Group’s founders to Bookwell, Dyer told Dynamic Business that Hezi Leibovich, an investor in EatNow, had “liked the concept from the beginning and saw a real need for the service”.
“We’d been in conversations with Hezi since the beginning,” he explained. “Given our previous work with him, Nathan and I were known quantities. Hezi was ready to invest in Bookwell, and Gabby was also keen, hence why our latest capital raise followed so soon from our seed round. It’s a big vote of confidence for the team and vision.
“The main qualities we have looked for in investors is long-term thinking, an understanding of how to build a marketplace business and the complexities of doing so, and alignment with our vision. All of our investors have a lot of experience with sales-focussed businesses and it is great to utilise this experience as well as their experience building a variety of businesses. Wooing them involved establishing strong relationships and continuing the conversation with them as Bookwell has grown.
At this stage, Dyer said he and Airy are not thinking about a Series A just yet; instead, they are ‘more focussed on building the business’.
“The health, beauty and wellness industry has been slow to adapt to technology and we want to give consumers choice and convenience on one platform,” he said.
“Just like it would be strange to book a flight by phoning an airline it will be the same in this industry over time. This market is growing in Australia and we see Bookwell[dot]com[dot]au being a key part of the industry. The acquisition of Vaniday, earlier this year, was opportunistic – we definitely want to own this market.
“We are trying to leverage as much of the experience from building EatNow as we can but it is a completely new industry and things change fast so we are keeping an open mind.”