LuxembourgMonAmour – Interview with Tom Michels (Salonkee)

Salonkee: The Beauty of Digital Booking


Counterintuitively,the idea of a digital salon booking service began when Tom Michels
started talking to salons with his pen and paper! The XX of Salonkee soon discovered a big software gap in the way salons managed their businesses. Salonkee received a surprising boost when bookings boomed after the Covid lockdown


Can you describe what Salonkee does in a few words? 


We were not from the industry but we knew that people wanted to book hairdresser, beauty massage, or a wellness studio appointments online. We talked to salons with a pen and paper. That led us to build a platform allowing people to book beauty and therapy services online. As we talked to potential customers, we spotted a big software gap in managing salon businesses. We developed software allowing salons to manage their businesses using digital calendars, point-of-sale systems (including payments and loyalty points), marketing tools, and the creation of newsletters. We now deliver an all-in-one solution to 4,000 clients in five countries. 


You had the idea in 2016. Did you start coding or raising money?


We were just out of university when we had the idea. We thought, let’s give it a shot because we used to live on a low budget in our student lives. With our mix of skills, we learned about the industry. During the day we visited salons and at night we coded the product. We did that for almost a year before raising any money. You don’t invest money; you invest time to see if your idea actually works. Once we had one customer, two customers, three… we kept going because it’s hard to raise money if you don’t have at least some revenue and some customers. We kept going for almost two years until the end of 2018. We had around 80 customers and that’s when we raised our seed round of €1 million.


“You don’t invest money; you invest time to see if your idea actually works”

You raised €1 million. How did that go? 


Everyone became full-time employees; we hired our first sales teams and began internationalizing by opening in Belgium. But we ran out of money during Covid. They say, “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.” With salons closed we had to ask, “What do we do?” We changed the roadmap. We launched newsletters earlier than planned so salons could continue communicating with their customers, engage in dropshipping or selling products. That’s how the salons stayed afloat so helping us to keep going. The experience created the opportunity for salons to go digital when the pandemic was over and to deal with the flood of appointments online instead of on the telephone.