Hannah Bronfman and Annie Evans are taking the stress out of booking salon and spa appointments with their new app, Beautified.
Two years ago, during a lunch date at famed Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s, new friends Hannah Bronfman, a DJ, and Annie Evans, then an events manager, realized they had a common problem. The in-demand women were always running from work to the gym to an event … to another event—and regularly finding themselves in need of a last-minute blowout or mani.
“We would be on street corners trying to Yelp and Google salons to see who had last-minute availability,” says Bronfman. “We were both really frustrated.”
It didn’t take long until their shared dilemma turned into a brilliant idea. “We did our research and realized there was no aggregated source of last-minute open appointments,” says Bronfman. “So, we decided to put our heads together—and get it done.”
Shortly after their pizza-fueled powwow, the two women connected with Peter Hananel, whose background in finance and tech proved an indispensable boon to the fledgling team. “We found a unique opportunity within the beauty industry,” says Evans.
“Hannah and I saw it much more from the perspective of our own experiences and Peter was fascinated by many of the industry’s inefficiencies.”
The seeds of Beautified, an iPhone app that lets users search for and book last-minute open beauty appointments, were sown—but the road to launch would not be an easy one. “A lot of stuff that goes into starting your own business isn’t glamorous,” says Bronfman of the challenges faced while putting together the app. “It’s very time-consuming—whether it’s lawyer intensive or overseeing a team.”
Unlike many tech companies, Beautified had no outside investors—it was launched with the cofounders’ own money. “I couch-surfed for a year, sleeping on girlfriends’ sofas while the business got up-and-running,” says Evans. “It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears.” But it all paid off when the app launched in New York in June 2013 to rave reviews.
Using geolocation and mobile technology, Beautified allows users to quickly book an array of services—from massages and manis to haircuts and bikini waxes—at 250 of the top salons and spas in New York, L.A. and San Francisco. One perk: Evans, Bronfman and the Beautified team personally vet each business to ensure every treatment is top-notch. “Testing out spas is definitely the most challenging part of our job,” jokes Evans.
As for how they got legendary salons like Tracie Martyn and the John Barrett Salon on board, Evans and Bronfman say it was actually easier than expected. “A lot of owners immediately got it,” says Evans. “Typically, about 40 percent of appointments go unsold every day at any given salon—we said, ‘We can help you fill them.’ ”
A year after launch, Beautified’s growth shows no signs of slowing down. This summer, the app will release an updated version with a more sophisticated booking process and several new yet-to-be-named service categories. The company also has plans to launch in Washington, D.C., Miami, Dallas and Chicago in the coming year.
“It’ll be Beautified 2.0,” says Bronfman. “We want to be like a mix of Zagat and Uber—but for the beauty world.”