If you want to book a reservation at a restaurant you can use OpenTable.com. If you want to book a hotel reservation you can use Hotels.com. But what if you want to book a hair appointment or cleaning service? Typically, you have to book those types of appointments over the phone (and make sure you called during business hours), but now a number of apps, including Kuyam and Handybook, are popping up to make scheduling appointments as easy as one click on your smartphone.
Kuyam, which started out of an investment banker’s frustration about scheduling a haircut during his busy schedule, has turned into an online marketplace targeted toward busy women, working moms and their families to easily schedule everything from hair appointments to children’s birthday parties.
Similarly, Handybook was started out of frustration over the difficulty of finding cleaning people that were reliable and trustworthy. Handybook has also morphed into a marketplace to book reliable and trustworthy cleaning people, handymen, plumbers and even Ikea assembly experts.
Kourosh Gohar, CEO and founder of Kuyam, said the site is divided into three main areas: kids activities, health and fitness, and beauty. He said that he chose to focus on moms and women because they are the primary schedulers in the household.
“It’s a marketspace for our core users that are moms, busy professional women,” Gohar said. “The reason why we chose them is because we wanted to go after the heavy users per se, I mean the guys still get appointments such as hair and personal care and maybe other activities, but in general it’s the women that do most of the scheduling for the family or for their significant others.”
Kuyam, which is available on iOS and Android, is easy to use. Users sign up for a free account and search the type of appointment they are interested in booking. They pick the day and time that works for them and can even view appointment openings of companies that utilize Kuyam’s “auto scheduling” feature.
Gohar said that the hard part wasn’t getting the mom’s on board, it was getting some of the smaller shops online.
“A number of these companies that we sign up are your typical mom and pop shop, so they don’t have sophisticated platforms, so our goal was to make it very easy for the users and companies to do it,” Gohar said.
Gohar employed some of his friends to test out the platform, making it essentially “dummy proof.” What he ended up creating was a cloud-based platform that stores can sign and log in to and access a database of requested appointments.
Companies who sign up for Kuyam receive their own company page free of charge. Kuyam only charges for appointments that are booked through the site, collecting 5 percent of the appointment price plus 99 cents. If the client is a repeat client, the price drops to only 99 cents. Kuyam is currently only available in the Los Angeles area, but will soon be expanding to other cities.
Handybook, which went live in January in Boston, New York and San Francisco, works in a similar way as Kuyam. Users go to the website, put in their zip code, put in a time and date of their requested service, and the site instantly confirms availability. While Handybook also has an iOS app, the company find that most first-time bookers use their website and repeat customers use the app.
Once a service is requested, a push notification goes out to Handybook’s approved service providers, who have been background checked, reference checked, security checked and insured. Handybook also reviews their pricing, processes payments and confirms the transaction.
“Providers we bring onto the platform are really happy with it because they don’t have to give us calendars, schedules or anything like that,” said Handybook Co-Founder and CEO Oisin Hanrahan. “They just opt into the jobs they want and we process their payments really quickly.”
Hanrahan said the time-intensive part of Handybook is the work they put into checking the background of all the service provers to make sure they are trustworthy and reliable. Before being approved, service providers must fill out an application, provide references, and pass a background check. Hanrahan said that of the 15,000 service providers that have applied to join the platform, less than five percent have been approved.
“We think that this is less about building a technology platform and more about building a brand that people can trust to book services,” Hanrahan said. “We are incredibly focused on having really good repeat use, growing organically and getting referrals from repeat customers.”
Handybook, which processes the transactions using Stripe, takes 20 percent of every booked service. The company also plans to expand in more cities.