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

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If you’ve ever traveled in the French countryside, you may have sensed French exceptionalism. Even in less populated towns, there is a hair salon.

French startup Planity is taking advantage of France’s love affair with hair salons to launch a SaaS product specifically for these businesses. Over time, the company expanded to other types of beauty salons, such as barbers and nail salons.

And it’s working surprisingly well as over 40,000 small businesses now rely on Planity for appointment booking and more. In fact, the startup recently raised a €45 million Series C round ($48 million at today’s exchange rate) in a round led by Infravia Capital Partners, which also included existing investors Crédit Mutuel Innovation, Revia, and BpiFrance’s digital venture fund Are participating.

Planity’s trajectory is interesting because it’s not the first big European tech company to try to simplify beauty salon appointment booking. Notably, Treatwell is already present in a dozen European countries and has seized the opportunity of digitalization of this highly fragmented market.

Doctolib for beauty salon

So what is the difference between Planity? Antoine Puimirat, co-founder and CEO of the startup, first started working on online appointment booking in 2007. His first startup called ClicRDV was a white-label online booking solution for businesses of all types. It was acquired by Pages Jaune (now SoLocal).

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

Around the same time, DoctoLib started to take off. The French startup, now a unicorn, has completely transformed appointment booking for doctors and other healthcare-related jobs. Its impact is even bigger because it has profoundly changed the way French people deal with health issues.

Planity took some inspiration from DoctoLib. It is a SaaS platform that completely replaces the good old paper notebooks that were widely used in hair salons. When people call for an appointment, staff write the appointment directly into Planity. And, of course, people can also book appointments online through Planity’s app and website. It becomes a single source of truth and simplifies salon management.

Unlike Treatwell, Planity does not take a 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-calculation, this means Planity could generate millions of euros in annual recurring revenue.)

“Most existing players have adopted a traditional marketplace model like Booking.com or TheFork,” Antoine Puimirat told me. “Customers pay a percentage of the total amount of each reservation. But we realized that this model wasn’t working because some companies have been around for 15 years, but they never really reached significant scale in Europe.

According to him, the main issue is that most of the customers are returning customers. And you don’t want to pay commission every time you book an appointment. With Planity, the more your customers use it to book appointments online, the less time you’ll waste on the phone – and it won’t cost you any more. That’s why beauty salons encourage their clients to use Planity.

“We go a little further than that. We also allow our businesses to manage working hours. Employees can go in and out in the morning and evening. We handle holidays. We can export payroll information,” said Puimirat.

Every month, approximately eight million people visit Planiti. The platform handles approximately 10 million bookings per month – 4 million of them are booked directly by end customers on Planity. Other appointments are entered manually by staff when a customer is speaking to them directly.

The platform handles waiting lists, sends reminders via text messages and creates a personalized schedule for each employee. Planity can also replace a point-of-sales solution for an additional €20 per month.

Some customers also get payment terminals from Planity. In that case, Planity uses Stripe’s API for the payments stack and takes a small cut on each transaction. But smaller shops that are already working with their bank for their payment terminals can continue to use those terminals.

Going forward, the company plans to take over wellness and fitness centres. Planity’s main market remains France – its home country – but the company is starting to grow in Belgium and Germany.

In addition to the fragmentation of the beauty salon industry, there are barriers to entry making Planity competitive. The company has a large sales team. They visit and meet with 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. There are currently about 200 sales people working for Planity, and the company plans to hire even more.



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