Vive aims to be the beauty button on everyone’s phones, and now it’s two steps closer to getting there.
The New York-based blowout booking service has raised $2.3 million in seed financing and brought on board celebrity hairstylist David Babaii as global brand ambassador. Among the investors in Vive are Deep Fork Capital, Y Combinator, Ludlow Ventures, Vayner RSE, Maveron, Expansion Venture Capital, T5 Capital, Kosinski Ventures and Haystack Fund.
“I see us building a consumer brand, and I really wanted experts across the consumer space,” said Alanna Gregory, founder and chief executive officer of Vive, speaking of her approach to securing investment. “We are definitely not stopping at blowouts. It is just what we have done first and want to be the best at, but I’m thinking about how that manifests into other services and categories, and these people can push us that way.”
Launched last May, Vive entered a crowded field of beauty service reservation platforms that includes BeautyBooked, Beautified, Treat and StyleSeat. Vive differentiates itself by specializing in last-minute salon appointments – 44 percent of appointments are booked the same day – and thoroughly vetting the salons in its network on the basis of reviews, the product lines they sell, stylist education, customer service and labor practices. Its salon network consists of 220 salons across New York and Chicago.
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Vive charges customers $65 for two blowouts a month, $120 for four blowouts a month, and $150 monthly for unlimited blowouts. It will soon introduce an à la carte option at $35 per blowout. Unlimited blowout packages account for the largest portion of Vive’s revenue, and Gregory believes the à la carte option will ultimately drive customers to sign up for unlimited subscriptions after they try out Vive with low-commitment blowout sessions.
Gregory equates Vive’s business model to that of hotel reservation service HotelTonight’s. Savings draw customers — she figures blowouts average $47 in the areas Vive serves, and a blowout booked with Vive currently costs $32.50 or less — and profiting off of excess inventory appeals to salons. “We are getting discounted inventory like a HotelTonight,” said Gregory. “We pay a salon per blowout performed, and salons have the ability to accept or reject appointments based on whether it makes sense for them. If a member pays us $100 and they use $75 in blowout costs that we pay to the salon, we will take the remainder.”
Between May and December, Vive processed more than 34,000 bookings. Gregory detailed its customers as typically young professional women aged 25 to 35. To grow its customer base, Vive is expanding beyond New York and Chicago this year, and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas are possible future destinations. Gregory is also working hard to cut Vive’s response time. It takes Vive an average of 13.4 minutes and a median of 2.2 minutes to confirm a blowout following a customer request.
Gregory emphasized Babaii’s involvement in Vive will elevate the salon and customer experience. The hairstylist—who handles the tresses of Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman and Katherine Heigl—will provide tips to Vive’s customers and for hairdressers, and he may produce a look book of hairdos to help consumers convey to salons the styles they are seeking to achieve. “It’s really important to me to add value on both sides,” said Gregory. “It will continue to build the trust of our consumers.”