Beauty app gets $2m funding for facelift

(From left) Mr Meters Ang, Mr Choy Peng Kong, Mr Douglas Gan and Ms Kuik Xiao Shi are the founders of four-month-old Vanitee, which will benefit from the funds from fragrance and cosmetics company Luxasia Group and angel investor Robert Yap.
(From left) Mr Meters Ang, Mr Choy Peng Kong, Mr Douglas Gan and Ms Kuik Xiao Shi are the founders of four-month-old Vanitee, which will benefit from the funds from fragrance and cosmetics company Luxasia Group and angel investor Robert Yap.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Funds to be used to market, improve app that matches users with beauty service providers

Four-month-old home-grown beauty app Vanitee has received $2 million in funding from fragrance and cosmetics company Luxasia Group and angel investor Robert Yap.

Vanitee is like the Airbnb or Uber of the beauty industry, as it matches users with freelance beauty service providers like manicurists, hairstylists and make-up artists.

Through the app, customers can find a service provider, schedule an appointment or housecall, and make payment. The service is available on both iOS and Android mobile platforms.

Vanitee received the funding in July but it is being officially announced today.

Mr Yap, the executive chairman of Singapore-based supply chain management company YCH Group, said: "With the rise of e-commerce, beauty marketplaces on mobile platforms will be the future for consumers."

Mr Patrick Chong, founder and chief executive officer of the Singapore-based Luxasia Group, said that Vanitee will also help "nurture beauty and wellness artists in Singapore to gain confidence through entrepreneurship".

Vanitee was founded by Mr Douglas Gan, Mr Choy Peng Kong, Ms Kuik Xiao Shi and Mr Meters Ang.

Mr Gan, Vanitee's chief executive officer, is a serial entrepreneur whose other start-ups include location-based information service ShowNearby and several online forums.

Mr Choy and Mr Ang, the chief technology officer and developer respectively, both have backgrounds in app coding and development. Ms Kuik, the chief operating officer, used to work in the finance sector.

The app was created under Vanity Trove, a company founded by Mr Gan and Mr Choy in 2011, that sends subscribers a box filled with beauty products every month for a fee.

Before service providers are listed on the app, they must be interviewed by someone from the Vanitee team who will verify their certificates and qualifications.

There is also a set of 27 service guidelines, such as ensuring that tools are sanitised and that gloves are worn when necessary, that they have to adhere to.

"Trust, safety and quality are very important, as these people are total strangers to each other," Mr Gan said.

Vanitee was soft-launched in April and now has more than 430 service providers catering to 2,600 customers. More than half of these users joined in the last month alone. The Vanitee team has also grown from six to 22 people, working in departments such as marketing and customer service.

Mr Gan said that they plan to use the funds primarily for marketing and to shore up their manpower. He also wants to make the app more comprehensive for both customers and service providers.

"Now, when you click on the manicure page, you only see listings. In future, we may have the latest looks, trends or guide, such as the best looks for short nails or oval nails. It will be more in-depth," said Mr Gan.

Ms Amelia Loh, 33, who works in human resources, has used the app to book manicures three times. She said: "I usually do manicures after office hours, when the manicurists are usually busy or unavailable. With the app, I can easily make a booking anytime."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline 'Beauty app gets $2m funding for facelift'. Print Edition | Subscribe