FlexyBeauty builds its SaaS platform for beauty professionals on Google Cloud Platform using App Engine with Cloud Datastore to offer its 4,500 clients a stable solution that’s quick to develop and ready to grow.
Google Cloud Results
- Powers a fully managed serverless infrastructure with App Engine, which autoscales to meet peaks in demand
- Supports rapid development with Cloud Datastore, which can be easily tailored to respond to new customer and market needs
- Facilitates integration with Google Maps and Google My Business, providing added value to the customer
Delivers a product easy to adapt for launching in new countries
There are approximately 250,000 beauty professionals in France in a varied sector that includes hairdressers, barbers, tattoo artists, beauty salons, and spas, many of which are independent businesses. By offering these professionals a simple to use, all-in-one SaaS (Software as a Service) solution that answers their day-to-day administrative needs and provide optimization tools to help increase their revenue, FlexyBeauty has expanded rapidly from a tiny start-up to a market leader, with 4,500 businesses across France using its product.
“Understanding the various profiles of the professionals with whom we work and adapting our tools to their needs is key. To do that, we need to be agile and stay as close to our customers as possible.”—Sébastien Beaujard, COO and Co-founder, FlexyBeauty
Founded in 2014, FlexyBeauty’s two creators spotted a niche in an industry currently undergoing a digital transformation. “A new legal ruling was passed in France requiring businesses to use certified point-of-sale (POS) software,” explains Sébastien Beaujard, COO and Co-founder at FlexyBeauty. “Our POS system is certified, so that was a significant accelerator for us. But, the objective is to go much further and enable professionals in the beauty sector to really digitize their offerings, which is what differentiates us from our competitors.”
To power its SaaS features, which are used all day, every day by its customers and their clients, FlexyBeauty needed a cloud platform that was highly secure and available. Most importantly, it also needed to develop a functional product to launch rapidly, which could then expand and develop as the business grew. The company chose Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as the perfect fit to support its product’s evolution.
“FlexyBeauty offers tailored packages that allow our clients to go at their own pace,” says Sébastien. “Understanding the various profiles of the professionals with whom we work and adapting our tools to their needs is key. To do that, we need to be agile and stay as close to our customers as possible.”
“With Cloud Datastore, we were able to add elements as we grew. That meant we could launch rapidly, but stay flexible, and react to new demands as and when we came across them.”—Sébastien Beaujard, COO and Co-founder, FlexyBeauty
Building an MVP in Six months
To launch a new tech product, demonstrating its viability and potential for growth is the main challenge for attracting investment. When Sébastien and his co-founder Ilan Koskas began developing FlexyBeauty, they had very little capital. “It was just the two of us and we had only €20,000, 80% of which went into marketing,” he says. “So we needed a way to grow the product quickly, and reassure potential customers that it was trustworthy.” They also needed to meet the demands of the product: to be highly secure, as client data is central to beauty professionals’ businesses, and to be robust and available, as POS and booking systems are in constant use.
To do that, Sébastien and Ilan built FlexyBeauty using App Engine on GCP. “We developed the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) very rapidly, in around six months,” says Sébastien. “Today, we use App Engine as our principal server, which autoscales to meet any peak in customer demand, along with Cloud Datastore as our NoSQL database and Compute Engine to power certain automated processes. The architecture we put in place at the beginning was ready for expansion and we were able to grow without having to rebuild the platform. We now handle around 100,000 reservations a month.”
As the product evolved, more features were added to answer specific client needs. “We were able to identify a whole raft of opportunities: How do I optimize my client bookings? How do I put in place objectives for my team? How do I put in place promotions and build customer loyalty?” says Sébastien. “With Cloud Datastore, we were able to add elements as we grew. That meant we could launch rapidly, but stay flexible, and react to new demands as and when we came across them.”
“Launching with GCP was strategic for us. We were able to prove viability — not just with a prototype, but with a functioning product — and to reassure customers about the stability and the security of the product, as Google is a well-known and trusted provider.”—Sébastien Beaujard, COO and Co-founder, FlexyBeauty
Interfacing with the Google ecosystem
In choosing to run its SaaS platform on GCP, FlexyBeauty has also been able to add value for its customers by integrating with other Google products. “Of course, GCP has unlocked all the classic benefits of being in the cloud for our customers: enabling clients to easily manage their data, work from home, and so on,” says Sébastien.
FlexyBeauty has grown from 10 clients to 4,500 in four years, and successfully raised €1.5 million in 2017, with a second investment round of €7 million opened in 2018 to develop the business further. “Launching with GCP was strategic for us,” says Sébastien. ”We were able to prove viability — not just with a prototype, but with a functioning product — and to reassure customers about the stability and the security of the product, as Google is a well-known and trusted provider. Having a big name behind the platform also helped us to develop our brand relationships, with L’Oréal, for example.”
Now, FlexyBeauty is planning to use the data analysis tools that GCP offers to analyze the increasing volumes of client data they process monthly. “We’re really interested in Datastudio and BigQuery. Our database of end users is approximately 500,000 users and we project that will grow to 10 million within three to four years.”
“We’re also looking into Kubernetes, and moving over to a microservices infrastructure,” says Sébastien. “That will help us to become less monolithic, which is useful in terms of maintenance and being able to perform tests.” The focus for now, however, is international expansion. “Our challenge today is to adapt the solution to take it internationally,” adds Sébastien. “Our first version in English is currently being tested in London and we are studying the needs of the British market. Thanks to the flexibility of the product we can continue to be agile and adapt it to specific international contexts as we expand.”
FlexyBeauty offers beauty professionals an all-in-one SaaS hub, including a POS system, online booking system, online store, mobile app, and more.