Vanitee Lands $3.5M To Expand Its Beauty Booking Service Across Asia

Vanitee, a six-month-old Singapore-based startup that provides a marketplace to connect beauty practitioners with customers, has raised $3.5 million as it prepares to expand its service across Asia.

The round was raised across in two lumps. Initially, Southeast Asia-based beauty seller Luxasia and Robert Yap, head of logistics firm YCH, agreed to investment around $1.4 million, but subsequent contributors led by from serial investor Ivan Lee and Japanese beauty portal @cosme raised the round. Interestingly, a filing with Singapore’s ACRA shows that Garena — a billion dollar tech firm covering payments, games and e-commerce — also partook in Vanitee’s round.

Vanitee’s origins come from the beauty box scene. Back in early 2012, Douglas Gan — a Singaporean entrepreneur behind ShowNearby, bought by Yellow Pages back in 2010, and other projects — was a co-founder who started Vanity Trove, a service that let users receive a monthly pack of beauty products for a fixed fee. The company subsequently hoovered up a cluster of rivals — including Rocket Internet-backed Glossybox Taiwan — in a six deal acquisition spree.

As hype around the beauty box scene died down in Asia, Vanity Trove tried to go digital with the launch last year of a social network aimed at helping women discuss their favorite products and connect online. Gan said that while takeup from users was positive, he and his founding team were unable to gain investor interest. Going back to the drawing board, they made adjustments to turn Vanity Trove into a profitable business and set about thinking up their next move.

Screenshot 2015-12-04 05.46.17

Vanitee was born out of a more social approach to beauty box company Vanity Trove

That turned out to be a new business: Vanitee — an idea cooked up at PayPal’s ‘Battle Hack’ event in Singapore in September 2014. After finishing third at the hackathon, the team took time out to talk to Vanity Trove partners, suppliers, users and really anyone with an interest in beauty products, and took the concept forward.

The idea of a service is to facilitate direct connections between the beauty industry and consumers, much like Airbnb. (Airbnb is a major influence, right down to the design of Vanitee’s website, it seems.) That means that beauty consultants can get a little extra business beyond their work at a salon, or go independent if they prefer. But, beyond just helping the professionals get clients and bookings, disintermediating salons gives potential customers a professional experience  — be it a nail manicure, makeup, hair, or more — at a cheaper price than they’d otherwise pay. Added bonus: the professional can come to you.

It is still early days for Vanitee, which officially launched in Singapore in May of this year. Gan told TechCrunch that the website and mobile apps have served nearly 5,000 customers so far with over 550 independent beauty professionals offering services through the platform. (More than 1,000 more are going through the company’s “stringent” verification process right now, according to Vanitee.)

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Vanitee Lands $3.5M To Expand Its Beauty Booking Service Across Asia
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