Planity raises $48 million because even hair salons need their own SaaS product

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If you have ever traveled to rural areas of France, you may have realized a French peculiarity. Even in seemingly less populated towns, there is a hair salon.

French start-up Flatness is taking advantage of France’s love affair with hair salons to launch a SaaS product intended in particular for these businesses. Over time, the business expanded to other types of beauty salons, such as barbershops and nail salons.

And it works surprisingly well since over 40,000 small businesses now rely on Planity for appointment scheduling and much more. In fact, the startup recently raised a Series C round of €45 million ($48 million at current exchange rates) in a funding round led by InfraVia Capital Partners with investors also participating existing Crédit Mutuel Innovation, Revaia and the Bpifrance Digital Venture fund.

Planity’s trajectory is interesting given that it’s not the first major European tech company to try to simplify booking appointments at beauty salons. Especially, Treat well is already present in a dozen European countries and seems to have seized the opportunity to digitize this very fragmented market.

Doctolib for beauty salons

So what’s different about Planity? The startup’s co-founder and CEO, Antoine Puymirat, began working on online appointment scheduling in 2007. His first startup called ClicRDV was a white-label online appointment scheduling solution for all kinds of businesses. It was acquired by Pages Jaune (now SoLocal).

After a few years at SoLocal, he left the company and went back to the drawing board with a more focused approach. Instead of creating a global appointment solution, he chose to focus specifically on beauty salons.

At the same time, Doctolib began to take off. The French startup, which is now a unicorn, has completely changed appointment scheduling for doctors and other health-related jobs. Its impact is even more significant since it has profoundly changed the way the French approach health problems.

Planity was inspired by Doctolib. It is a SaaS platform that completely replaces the good old paper notebook widely used in hairdressing salons. When people call for an appointment, employees note the appointment directly in Planity. And of course, people can also book appointments online through the Planity app and website. It becomes the single source of truth and simplifies salon management.

Unlike Treatwell, Planity does not charge commission on each future sale. Instead, Planity is a traditional SaaS product with a monthly subscription fee. The main product currently costs €69 per month. (With a little back-of-the-envelope math, this means Planity likely generates tens of millions of dollars in annual recurring revenue.)

“Most existing players have adopted a classic marketplace model like that of Booking.com or TheFork,” Antoine Puymirat explains to me. “Guests pay a percentage of the total amount of each reservation. But we realized that this model didn’t work, because some companies have been around for 15 years, but never really reached significant scale in Europe.

The main problem, he says, is that most customers are repeat customers. And you don’t want to pay a commission every time they book an appointment. With Planity, the more your customers use it to book appointments online, the less time you waste on the phone — and it doesn’t cost you more. This is why beauty salons encourage their clients to use Planity.

“We go a little further than that. We also let our companies manage work schedules. Employees can clock in and out in the morning and evening. We manage vacations. We can export payroll information,” Puymirat said.

Every month, around eight million people visit Planity. The platform manages around 10 million reservations per month, of which 4 million are booked directly by end customers on Planity. Other appointments are entered manually by employees when a customer speaks directly to them.

The platform manages waiting lists, sends SMS reminders and creates a personalized schedule for each employee. Planity can also replace the point of sale solution for an additional €20 per month.

Some customers also get payment terminals from Planity. In this case, Planity uses Stripe’s APIs for the payment stack and takes a small cut from each transaction. But small businesses that already work with their bank for their payment terminals can continue to use these terminals.

The company next plans to run wellness and fitness centers. Planity’s main market remains France – its country of origin – but the company is starting to expand in Belgium and Germany.

In addition to the fragmentation of the beauty salon industry, there is a barrier to entry to create a competitor to Planity. The company has a large sales team. They meet new customers to make sure they understand how the software platform works.

This strategy is both capital intensive and requires a solid sales playbook to work. Planity currently has about 200 salespeople, and the company plans to hire even more.

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