As an old adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention. It is an all too common phenomenon that entrepreneurs often come up with business ideas for their own needs, which is exactly what happened with Echelon Indonesia Satellite 2014 winner Spavista and its CEO Ken Suriafur.
It all started with a trip to Thailand, a land with a plethora of traditional massage parlours and wellness spots. However, Suriafur still found himself having a hard time trying to find a “good spa”. Later, he learnt that the same thing had happened to a friend of his in Bali, Indonesia. Thus, he decided to move to Bali and learn more about the market.
Five months after incorporating the Indonesian company in December 2012, Suriafur and his Co-founder Sulaeman launched a minimum viable product (MVP). Within the first month of the website going live, the duo managed to snag their first paying customer. In July 2013, they launched a stable and scaleable version, and slowly realised that customers are also looking for more than just a spa-booking service. Two months later, they decided to expand market offerings to include salons, yoga, and fitness centres.
“We changed our tagline ‘Spa booking made easy’ to ‘Simplified appointment booking’,” said Suriafur, adding, “We help beauty and wellness enthusiasts to search and book an appointment easily. It is now easier for them to find references and book an appointment simply using their laptop or smartphone.” Aside from Indonesia, users of Spavista can also scour for wellness spots in Thailand and Singapore.
At the moment, 150 business partners have listed their services on the aggregator and booking platform. In a sense, it aims to be the Agoda for beauty, health and wellness services. The startup has three essential target groups: wellness tourists, who travel in search of the best wellness services; expatriates, who are new to a city and are constantly looking for wellness places; and locals who would like to find out more about new and up-and-coming spaces.
While the company has been self-funded by Suriafur so far, he is looking to secure investment from an angel investor or venture capitalist. He explained that the investment partner should be able to provide financing, and advice, as well as allow the startup to expand outside of Indonesia. Spavista has been generating revenue via six different streams or business models, and it claims to have validated three of them: commission-based, advertising-based and white-label mobile apps.
In the months ahead, Spavista will be working on launching its mobile apps, providing an all-in-one solution for business partners so that they can use the platform and free Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for promotions and reservations. As the startup is only made up of two people, Suriafur noted that they are actively hiring.
Hiring efforts will be important for Spavista as it continues to scale and bring in more partners, as it faces competition from VogueIsMe, a Singapore-based beauty, fitness and wellness marketplace developed by KUDOOZ Pte. Ltd, which aggregates professionals from the various industries in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Echelon 2014 is a two-day Startup, Technology and Business event where Asia’s most innovative startups, early-stage investors and tech industry leaders as well as tech media, gather to celebrate and build Asia’s growing tech industry, as well as make valuable relationships.