Cape Town-based startup diarize.me is seeking to simplify the making and managing of appointments for businesses and customers in the beauty industry, with plans to expand to all appointment-based industries.
Founded by chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Raa and currently participating in the 88mph accelerator programme in Cape Town, diarize.me allows customers to find a salon, select a treatment, choose a stylist, see the stylist’s schedule and book an appointment online, after which they can rate the salon they visited.
The software provides businesses with online management of appointments, with Raa telling HumanIPO he is set to roll out functionality that will allow businesses to implement and manage loyalty programmes from their dashboards.
“More and more people are starting to look online for hair stylists, or to buy their wife a massage. This will allow them to better manage that,” Raa said.
“I think it takes a lot of the pain out of making an appointment for the customer, but it also takes a lot of admin out of it for businesses.”
While for customers the service is free, the company will raise revenue by charging businesses on a subscription basis, with the process of signing up salons now underway following the launch of the platform.
A loyalty programme functionality is set to be rolled out in the next few weeks.
“How do you know through a paper system how many times your customers make an appointment?” Raa said. “At the moment there is no chance to track that information. There is no loyalty capability in actually attending a haircut.”
Raa said the company had chosen the beauty industry as a starting point given its willingness to adopt use of technology.
“90 per cent of the industry has already implemented some form of software in their business. And it gives us an opportunity to prove the model,” he said.
“We are focusing on innovators in the market, those that have their websites and are taking requests through the site.”
However, the plan is to expand into any appointment-based industry.
“The end goal is to make the paper-based appointment book a relic of the past,” he said. “The software was written for any appointment-based industry.”
This versatility in usage also gives diarize.me a chance to expand to other South African cities, according to Raa, with the pilot phase in each city dependent on the location and the industries present.
“In other cities, other markets will prove to be stronger than the beauty industry. I think the auto industry may end up being better in Port Elizabeth than beauty salons,” he said.
The company was self-funded prior to receiving US$10,000 in funding from 88mph, with Raa working as a software developer at Visa. Now focusing fully on diarize.me, he said the main impact of the accelerator programme has been the realisation his software could have wider uses than he originally intended, with his initial idea being to roll out the software to doctors and dentists.
“The problem that we came across was that the technology can be used in so many aspects in industry, and the market is really small if you limit it to doctors and dentists. Plus there was a reluctance a digital staff in the industry,” he said.
Raa said the company will be looking for follow-on funding after the Demo Day that marks the end of the 88mph programme, while he is also seeking a co-founder on the business operations side.