Vanitee’s founder Douglas Gan is a busy man on a mission: to offer quality beauty services from sought-after independent and emerging artists.
Douglas Gan’s email signature cleanly sums up his mission at beauty marketplace startup Vanitee: “Live Beautifully”. Born out of Paypal’s virgin hackathon in Singapore in 2014, Vanitee today has since grown past its fledgling days.
Today, the startup allows users to book beauty services by location, post reviews and chat with service providers. Gan shares that the number of home-based beauty businesses listed on the platform are core to this explosive growth.
Gan is a busy man. Though he responds pithily to less than half of the questions we send over email, it’s easy to see why. After all, Vanitee is firing on all fronts after tapping into a rich source of potential unlocked simultaneously by the rise of social media and the struggling retail industry.
The growth of home-based businesses in Singapore today offer small-time entrepreneurs the ability to build a viable income stream while minimising any upside risks. With Asia looming large, Gan isn’t just looking inwardly in his home country, Singapore.
“Many freelance home-based beauty service providers stay at very interesting homes, from two-bedroom public housing flats to three-storey, seven-bedroom landed penthouses.”
Doyenne: How many freelance service providers does Vanitee have?
Douglas: In total, we currently have over 1,900 merchants on our platform. Over 1,300 are freelancers or home-based service providers. The rest are shops.
D: What are some of your more interesting service provider stories?
Douglas: We have a full-time speech and drama teacher who runs her own facial salon in her parents’ five-room public housing flat – her facial services are so sought after that customers book three months in advance. While hers is a normal flat, the facial spa bedroom is softly lit with fairy lights hung along the walls. There is a proper spa bed with clean, fresh towels. She even wears a white coat when attending to customers.
Also, many freelance home-based beauty service providers stay at very interesting homes, from two-bedroom public housing flats to three-storey, seven-bedroom landed penthouses.
D: Share with us something about the beauty industry you didn't know until after you founded Vanitee?
Douglas: I used to think everyone does beauty services in one way or another. Now I realise that very few people actually use beauty services. Say nails for example. Maybe three out of ten females go for nail art. The opportunity for Vanitee to help more people discover beauty and use them is immense.
D: You mentioned before that Vanitee is planning to explore market expansion in 2017. Is this still true?
Douglas: We have already quietly expanded into two overseas markets. Concurrently, we are also testing new markets since 2016. Once things become stable and official, we will definitely provide more details and promote this to our base. Beauty tourism remains a very under-tapped opportunity in Asia.