Interview With Neeraj Gupta
Describe your product or service:
“Salonist is salon software meant for beauty and wellness businesses to streamline their day to day tasks. It incorporates features such as online booking, loyalty or reward programs, customer and staff management, inventory management, point of sale, multi-location accessibility, reports and analytics, etc. The Salonist software could be used in a number of industries, such as barber shops, hair salons, bridal salons, medical spa software, aesthetic skin clinic, tattoo artist software, pet grooming, etc. It has different pricing plans: Basic, Starter, and Business. These could be chosen on a monthly or yearly basis.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We strive to provide the best solutions to the Salon industry and eliminate their pain points. Our mission is to increase the reach and make Salonist a maximum number of clients globally.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“We have a team of 100+ employees. There are developers, designers and a marketing support team. Mr. Neeraj Gupta is the founder of Salonist software. Everyone who is involved in making Salonist the best software is from an IT background and implements the advanced technologies.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“I visited Singapore in 2015 to meet my friend who handles the Salon business in Paragon mall. While interacting, he discussed his problems as a Salon owner. Some of them were; multi-branch management, stock handling, and booking customers for appointments. All of them collectively were affecting his business success. Then, I decided to know if other Salon owners are facing similar problems. After researching, I got to know the major pain points. Holding an IT background, I knew there was a need for software to manage all. After returning to India, I shared the issues and my viewpoints with my core team and there came the idea of creating Salonist.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“I have discussed my idea with the experts, and they have suggested three names; hence, I chose Salonist.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“The zeal to know more, and to serve customers in the best possible way let me be an entrepreneur.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“Of course, only having an idea does not work, we need to implement it. So, while we were not assured of how to give our idea to reality. It took a lot of research and analysis; however, we came to know the best strategies that turned out to be beneficial. The next was how to market the product. From a professional and skilled specialist, we outline effective marketing ideas.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“All those who come under the beauty and wellness industries are our target market. Some of them are barber shops, hair salons, massage therapy, spa, medical spa software, aesthetic skin clinics, tattoo artist software, salon booth for rent, and tanning salon software, pet grooming, etc.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“We work mainly on referral programs, social media, run paid campaigns.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“From our effective marketing efforts, paid campaigns, and social media marketing, we got our first customer. Till now, we are working on the same and capturing a number of customers.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Per-customer efficiency, customer satisfaction, and customer retention are major metrics to know the business effectiveness.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel.”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“I prefer reading books than listening to songs.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Yes, Trello helps me to manage business tasks and Zoho for managing emails.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“Great client leads can come from the most unlikely places.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I commit to maintaining it! A mix of work, self-care, travel, a healthy diet, and family time- it comes with all. I don't push myself much; otherwise, mental health takes a hint.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“Constant efforts, neverending research, knowing the latest trends or technologies and changing customers’ demands, collectively make my work productive and growth made me more focused.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Prioritizing the customers' problems and establishing a strong network helped lead me to success.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I was working in an IT company where I learned how to do Smart work, use social media for business, and of course, improved my communication skills.”
More on Salonist
Neeraj Gupta, founder of beauty tech startup Salonist, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.