Hive Salon Software was established by Lawrence Parnis and Shino Jose in August 2014. Its product is a new, cloud-based business management system for the hair and beauty industry and its aim is to provide salon operators with cutting-edge software at an affordable price.
“The salon industry is not yet fully computerised and the benefits of e-commerce are not currently being exploited due to high implementation costs,” Parnis says.
Existing salon management systems typically manage individual aspects of a salon’s business. Hive is a one-stop-shop covering 15 different functions including appointments, treatments, loyalty schemes, payment processing and stock management.
There is also a booking engine that allows salons to offer last-minute deals, special offers and online bookings. Beta testing took place towards the end of last year and Hive Salon Software has been on the market since January.
Parnis and Jose have worked together on various projects over a number of years and both have previous start-up experience. Parnis’ last start-up was craftbay.ie, which was a Web Summit finalist in 2014.
Their operation employs 10 people across software development, technical support and sales and marketing. It is based at the Synergy Centre in Tallaght IT.
Having put the time and money into developing their own CRM product, the partners were keen to find other sectors where their solution would work, with appropriate customisation.
In 2012 they identified the beauty/wedding markets as a potential niche and this ultimately led to the development of Hive Salon Software.
“During our research we found that salons were depending on multiple vendors to offer online booking and many were still managing their daily diary manually,” Parnis says. “With our system they have access to a booking widget that can be easily integrated into their Facebook page or into their own websites thereby allowing clients to book online. This will help them to both increase their sales and improve their productivity.
“Many salons simply couldn’t afford the cost of the management systems available – approximately €4,000 plus ongoing maintenance costs – so we came up with a solution that is not only better and more comprehensive but costs approximately one eighth of conventional salon software products,” Parnis says.
Parnis estimates the total cost of developing and launching Hive at around €1 million, which has been largely self-funded.
“We are now in the process of achieving high potential start-up status and will be looking to securing seed funding from suitable partners who can help us achieve our global objectives,” he says.
Hive Salon Software will be sold in Ireland but its main aim is to break into overseas markets.
Its first international launch will be in Dubai where it is partnering with Qatar-based conglomerate Almana to drive sales in the Gulf region.
So how does a Middle East-based “Goliath” find an Irish “David”?
“We have put a huge effort into developing a very strong online presence and are very active on social media. We were contacted by Almana as a result of a tweet,” Parnis says. “They liked what they saw and it fitted with their portfolio.”
The company has signed up close to 40 customers so far and its next move is into the UK through a network of resellers. Salons pay an initial fee of €499 and a monthly charge of €69.99 to use the software, which works on any device.
“The efficiency and potential cost savings offered by an online management solution were not fully realised by the salon industry until recently. With our product outlets can attain and maintain sustainable growth and can have access to all of their information anytime, anywhere 24/7,” Parnis says.
* This article was amended on Thursday, May 6th