Giorgia Rossi and Renee Robbie were busy working long hours as Management Consultants in Sydney and while trying to find time to get a hair appointment came up with the idea of doing online appointments and the idea for Lookbooker was born. We talk to them about their startup here.
Tell us about LookBooker and what inspired you to come to the USA.
LookBooker is NYC’s largest online platform for discovering, browsing, and booking hair and beauty appointments online. We work with over 350 of NYC’s best salons, spas, and barbershops to make scheduling your next grooming appointment as easy as booking a hotel, restaurant, or taxi. Think of us as OpenTable meets hair and beauty: we’re trying to take one of the oldest industries in the world and move it from offline to online.
We had the idea for LookBooker when we were both living Australia and thought we’d come to New York, the world capital of hair and beauty, and see who was doing online appointments well here. In the middle of winter, we trekked around interviewing salon owners until we realized there wasn’t anyone helping digitize the industry, and the opportunity in the US was too big to ignore. Personal grooming is a $53B industry and there are over a million salon and spa businesses. That was inspiration enough for us to pack our bags and start LookBooker in NYC.
What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’
Walking into the Vogue offices for an interview about the launch of the LookBooker app.
What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business in New York and how does it differ to Australia?
We haven’t started a business in Australia so don’t have that to compare to. It can be hard sometimes to not have the support network of family and friends around when you are going through the emotional rollercoaster that is starting and running a business. We are fortunate that we have each other and great partners and friends in NYC, but it would be nice to have our full Australian crew around sometimes!
Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
LookBooker has grown most successfully through word of mouth. We’ve found that the average New York woman will have 3-4 conversations about hair and beauty a week; that sounds like a lot, but you’ve probably complimented someone on their makeup, or asked someone where they got their hair done this week, and we want LookBooker to be a part of as many of those conversations as possible. We have recently launched a referral program so there is a little added incentive to talk about LookBooker when you’re at brunch with your friends, and that’s been working really well in spreading the word!
Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?
We are fortunate that we have some incredible mentors and advisors who have opened their networks to us, and who provide invaluable advice as we tackle the growth of the business. We have been humbled by how willing and forthcoming people have been to make introductions, have coffee, share advice.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
Don’t feel like you have to have all your ducks in a row. We meet so many people who say they want to start a business but are just waiting until they get their promotion so they have a little extra padding, or until they meet the perfect cofounder, or until they have figured out every detail of the product. Starting a business is uncomfortable, but you have to get comfortable with that discomfort, and the best way to do so is to just start and not feel like there’s going to be a big sign in the sky telling you now is the time.
You are Co-founders of LookBooker – what are the challenges and pleasures in starting a business with a friend?
Fortunately for us it’s mostly pleasures! We both come from families that run businesses, and so we’ve always been comfortable with the idea of personal life and business blending into one: in fact we kind of like it that way, and so we can’t even complain that when we’re hanging out together on the weekends we usually end up talking about work, though that might be some people’s idea of a nightmare.
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?
Our team now knows a lot about Australia. Aside from the occasional packet of Tim-Tam’s in the office and the introduction of phrases like “no worries” and “this arvo” we like to think that we bring the more Australian no-BS way of working to our business.
What is next for LookBooker?
We’re continuing to add dozens of new salons and spas to the platform each month, push out new features to the app, and make sure our users are having an awesome experience discovering and booking hair and beauty appointments. Right now we’re focused on continuing to grow in NYC, but our aspiration is for LookBooker to be in all major US cities in the next couple of years and we’re working hard towards that.
Is there anything else you’d like to say here?
Not knowing where to go for a haircut, color, manicure or massage when you move cities can make you feel totally out of whack, and finding the perfect place to go can make a big new city like NYC feel a little more like home. We hope LookBooker can help the women of AWNY discover their hair-and-beauty go-tos, especially anyone new and settling into the city!
Optional – Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members?
We’d love to extend the offer code AWNY15 for $15 off your first appointment to try out LookBooker: download the app in the App Store or on Google Play. If you’re looking for a personalized recommendation you’re always welcome to drop an email to email@example.com and our beauty concierge will make a recommendation.
Follow the Lookbooker at:
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/lookbooker1
Love this AWNY Startup Story? Want more?
Register for our monthly newsletter and be kept in the loop for our upcoming Startup Stories event where you can hear more stories like this first hand and meet some of Aussie women entrepreneurs.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AUWomenNYC/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AUWomenNYC
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/auwomennyc/
Are you an Australian female who owns a business in New York?
If you do and you want to tell us all about it, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org