Honee, Australia’s first tech company to propel the beauty and wellness industry into the digital age, has received $1.8 million in seed VC funding led by Blackbird Ventures and prominent Melbourne and Sydney angel investors, less than two years after their official launch in Melbourne.
Matt Jones, Founder and CEO of Honee, is one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs. After the success of previously established platforms – Delivery Hero, Quandoo and Zomato – Matt, alongside his team, developed a platform that is revolutionizing the way the wellness and beauty industries do business within their local communities.
Matt and Co-Founders – Nicole So, Alexander Groom and Nick Chang – discovered that the beauty industry had been left behind by the Internet revolution. Unlike food-tech, where almost 20% of all restaurant bookings occur online, less than 0.2% of salon bookings are made online. When looking into the causes of this disparity, the team discovered that 70.2% of salons rely heavily on pen and paper to run their salon. Of the more than 10,000 Melbourne and Sydney salons the team surveyed, less than 40% had a web presence.
Honee identified early on from working with salon owners that customer retention is the single biggest driver of success. Based on this, Honee believes that the industry is poised for a revolution through data driven beauty.
Salons spend an estimated 40-50 hours a month on the phone booking in clients. Honee is saving salon owners time with it’s flagship product HoneeComb, an end to end salon management system enabling the salons customers to book real-time into their individual stylist’s calendars.
Honee is also growing salon owner’s business confidence through its innovative artificial intelligence system called Nectar. Salon owners can chat to Nectar 24/7 to learn about how their business is performing, act on marketing insights and hear about what their customers are saying about the salon. Anything a human can do, Nectar can be programmed to do, and this is the power of using Artificial Intelligence in beauty.
With its customer facing website and simple navigation system, Honee aims to connect the every day consumer directly with businesses in their local community. Honee provides businesses with unprecedented information to help them leverage their customer relationships, grow their business and empower their team to create a positive and on brand customer experience.
Matt Jones said that the first round of VC funding will enable the company to bolster rapid development of the product and consolidation of the Melbourne market. Matt says that he has his eyes on further expansion with initial work underway for Sydney and in the coming months looking at international expansion to LA and Singapore.
“The idea of Honee came to me organically – I just got back to Australia from Singapore and couldn’t easily find anywhere to get my hair cut. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a premium Kevin Murphy salon in the basement of my office building, which hadn’t come online while searching. It soon became my regular, and the owner kept asking me when I was going to create the ‘Urbanspoon’ for his industry, and that was the light bulb moment and from there, Honee was born.”
“We already have over 200,000 different services listed on our platform and we’re in the midst of establishing our presence in Sydney, where we’ve seen even greater traction; we found 5,839 venues and signed 400 of them for online bookings in just 8 days.”
“Already 1 out of 5 venues in Melbourne receive online bookings through Honee; this puts us in a great position for domestic and international expansion.”
Niki Scevak, co founder of Blackbird Ventures says Honee shows the right level of ambition and drive that powerfully aligns with Blackbird’s vision.
“The foundational insight of Honee that we were attracted to, is that great beauty businesses want help in serving happy, repeat customers rather than just constantly acquiring new ones.
“Matt and the team at Honee are a force of nature and we’re ecstatic to welcome them into the Blackbird Family, ” says Scevak.
The announcement of Blackbird’s investment in Honee comes shortly after Canva, another company with Blackbird Ventures backing, being named a unicorn of the Australian tech space after being evaluated at $1billion.
Honee launched in Sydney in 2018 and have their sights set for an international expansion to Los Angeles.