Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello guys! My name is Neeraj Gupta, the Managing Director at Shrivra and founder of Salonist. My age is 31 and currently, residing in Singapore. I began my business career in 2010 and now have grown a portfolio of IT Services, SaaS Products, and much more. Proceeding to Salonist, it is a one-stop software to address entails of businesses in the health, beauty, and wellness industries.
Until now, various SMEs have been using the Salonist software as it offers everything from customer management to Point of Sale, online bookings, multi-location management, marketing, and much more. It began in 2017 and now has around 10,000 customers worldwide. It's’ not just about monetary success, but I aim for positive outcomes and people's reactions when their expectations are served to their best.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I began my journey with the foundation of a startup firm - Awebstar Technologies in Singapore that offered services and support in the IT field. The company grew to an extraordinary extent and established a reputation among the customers.
During this startup venture, a salon owner reached us with the need to design a website for their business. As per the demands and requirements, we built the website and delivered it within the set time frame. Further, the salon owner came up with the issues they were facing in selling their services/products and booking the appointment online.
Here, this experience helped me understand the challenges in the beauty and wellness industry. So, thought of the idea to create a solution that can boost the salon and spas to manage their scheduling process and provide their customers with the best experience. Furthermore, the intent was not only to assure the increased sales and footfall but to eradicate the admin work too. Also, having an IT background and expertise in the same, I was capable of validating and ideating the products with no challenges faced. This way I came up with the Salonist software.
There comes the phase when you face good times as well as bad times. However, I was lucky enough to have the financial backing and an opportunity to at least give this idea a try.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
As I explained above, we knew where the salon and spa service providers were lagging. I was dedicated to building a solution with all the features in one place. Here, we decided to build seamless and effective software to solve their hassle.
We gathered the needs, began brainstorming the ideas, and finalized the requirements - right from idea to material and medium. We worked with our specialized designers to create the prototypes using Figma and then created the designs for it.
After the completion of the designing process, we fine-tuned the prototyping, executed in-house testing, and made the software ready for launch.
It feels amazing when efforts go into building a solution for any brand. And it’s exciting when you have the right resources and expertise in hand. We are a Software development company who aims to deliver great customer experience and had a pool of talent already with us with the knowledge of Figma, so we didn’t require special hirings for it.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I launched Salonist in 2017 and hopefully started seeing customers within a short time span. I thought it would be hard to attract customers but the benefits of social media and digital marketing assistance made the business promotion easy.
Have faith in your ideas, be passionate about what great things you are doing or aim to do, and success will knock on your door eventually.
I increased the connections on platforms like LinkedIn, began reaching out to the salon and spa business owners, and represented my brand. Overall, my every effort paid me the worth and Salonist is still on the rise.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Before the launch, I had enough time while the Salonist software was being designed. Furthermore, I knew that owning a software solution would not be enough. I spent my time trying every marketing tactic like Google Advertising, Facebook Ads, Adwords, and much more to raise solution awareness before its launch.
Later, the social media channels were created where the team was committed to promotions that represented the brand. Talking about organic traffic, we began with digital marketing to make our software stand out in the SERPs. This way, we started getting customer interactions and sales from social media. The interested visitors approached us and registered themselves with Salonist. Also, we gained many customers from referrals and now our software is used by many and ranks well on the SERPs.
Converting the visitors to customers wasn’t enough. So, we use Dynamic Ads to retarget existing customers on Facebook/Instagram via banner ads or search engine ads and make them purchase our product.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The dream of every entrepreneur is to excel in their venture and I dream the same. It’s not easy to build customer relationships as some would question the product and others at its pricing. However, until now, we have all the customers satisfied with our Salonist software, and 24/7 customer assistance is offered in case of any issues. Furthermore, our metrics are doing well and need no improvement.
I want the momentum to keep going this way. I always aim at the customer satisfaction that they expect from my software. My team of 90+ experts is committed to keeping them informed and knowledgeable about trendy features and offer quality assistance and support services. Furthermore, the plan is to hire more professionals, innovate new ideas, and boost sales, revenue, and indeed customer capacity.
Besides, I want to continue designing new software for different business verticals from the best I own.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When it comes to business management, obstacles and hurdles are normal. Overcoming any mistake or business situation on time hardly hampers growth. I’m an extra-determined individual who works crazy hours.
As I possess adequate knowledge about managing the business, I haven’t faced any hardest things yet. I’ve always made efforts to accomplish the tasks with great accuracy and efficiency.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
However, as an organization, our inspiration is Zoho and we continually keep on introducing new products to help our customers boost their venture and keep our business on the top.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
80/20 Principle is the book to my motivation and inspiration. It helped me gain a lot of knowledge relevant to business, team management, and motivation. I learned valuable facts about business and implemented them in achieving my business goals. Also, time management became the key aspect to building a successful venture. So, this was the utmost influential resource in my entrepreneurship journey.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
The one great piece of advice I could give to every entrepreneur out there is to just begin. I come across numerous individuals with great ideas but never see them moving as they’re afraid of failure.
The most crucial skill is to recognize when your great idea is gonna fail or when it requires a twist. Begin with practicing business to gain experience. Look for the products or services you want to sell, analyze the target audience, and gather the tactics to market your services/goods to that audience.
Lastly, have faith in your ideas, be passionate about what great things you are doing or aim to do, and success will knock on your door eventually.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Currently, we are not hiring for any full-time positions but will keep you posted in case of urgent requirements.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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