If you have ever been to South-East Asia on your holidays, you will know that lining the streets are endless opportunities to beautify or treat yourself. But, the sheer amount of beauty businesses to be found — both small and large — is overwhelming. You’re likely to really need a massage following a hunt for the perfect spa or salon in the humid heat or after a long trawl hunched over your laptop searching for online reviews.
Founded in 2016, GoWabi, a Thailand-based startup is aiming to streamline the stressful process of trying to de-stress Thailand.
The online booking platform brands itself as a one-stop destination for beauty needs that will find and book beauty and wellness services around the users’ needs.
GoWabi works by allowing customers to easily search for service by location and category on the platform or app, compare prices depending on the desired booking hour, read reviews and ratings by other customers, and receive cashback after each booking made on the platform.
It provides convenient online reservations for spas, hairdressers, nail salons, massage therapists, eyelash extension technicians and more.
The company was co-founded by ex-Rocket Internet and Ensogo employees Samir Cherro, Wipawee Wongsirisak, and Vadim Eremeev.
The idea for GoWabi was imagined when co-founder Samir Cherro was trying to find a place to go for a trim after relocating to the region.
“I was looking for barbers around me when I lived in Singapore, Jakarta, Manila, but with no luck. It was so difficult finding quality hairdressers at reasonable prices,” Cherro told e27 in an interview.
GoWabi originally acted as an app to connect people to hairdressers but soon decided that there were many more opportunities in other areas of beauty.
“From there, we saw a bigger problem and decided to expand. Two years ago we launched, and we moved more into beauty and spa service, and we were no longer niched only for barber service,” explained Cherro.
Thailand is South-East Asia’s hub for beauty services. This is why GoWabi chose to set up there—along with the beautiful beaches, tourists actually go to Thailand exclusively for beauty treatments.
When the trio of founders found out about Groupon and Ensogo pulling out of South-East Asia, they saw a unique opportunity to help local merchants wanting to attract more customers.
“We combined the two aspects and found the balance of providing ‘smarter discounts’ where we introduced off-peak pricing. That way customers can still enjoy discounts and merchants would get more customers filling their empty capacity, while receiving full prices on peak hours,” said Cherro.
The founders’ previous working backgrounds made the move to attach a discount and commission system to GoWabi a no-brainer.
“Our team has strong background from various eCommerce and marketplace verticals in SEA, my co-founders previously worked at Ensogo Singapore and Zalora Thailand, I started early on in Lazada Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. I strongly believe our background and expertise in this industry has helped us bring GoWabi to where it is today,” affirms Cherro.
GoWabi recently announced that it’s raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding (apparently the number is seven digits in USD) from 500 TukTuks, Thai mobile phone provider Dtac, and Danish angel investor Kasper Kragelund.
The company is planning to use these funds to add more categories, replicate the business model in new markets and increase their offering for merchants.
To date, GoWabi has expanded to nine major cities in Thailand and is now working with over 1,000 beauty and wellness salons and boutiques, as well as internationally known brands and hotels such as Benefit Cosmetics, Yves Rocher, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Shangri-la.