As some hairdressers, salons, and beauty care centres have reopened the past week, it has been the answer for many you who have been dying to get your hair done.
Four innovative University of Cape Town (UCT) students came up with an idea to create an app, Fleeker, so that consumers can schedule appointments with hairstylists, barbers, make-up artists and nail technicians – and beat the long in-salon queues we were used to before Covid-19 changed our normal.
Co-founder Asonele Gevenga said the app was created with fellow students, Tshepang Mapiti – a mechanical engineering graduate, Blessing Dinake – currently studying mechanical engineering, and Tebello Molete, studying computer science.
Gevenga said: “The idea came about in late 2017 but there was no immediate execution on it then. What gave birth to the idea was the fact that we had to spend hours queuing in a barber while we had more things to do like completing our school work. We also realized that no one was building a great product for beauty service providers.”
He said they decided to pursue the idea in May 2018: “We released the minimal viable product (MVP) in September, and by October we had processed over 100 bookings. That also came with rich feedback from users. However, we were faced with a problem, our MVP couldn’t handle the traffic and it was mostly manual work for us.”
The app was officially launched in September 2019 after the feedback they received.
With the business growing and big plans for 2020, the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic has affected many businesses and for Fleeker it was no different.
“The pandemic really impacted beauty stylists, meaning it impacted Fleeker. We had big growth plans when the year started. We had even run a campaign called ‘find a stylist for grad’ just before graduations were cancelled.
“Basically, the pandemic gave us two options; to innovate further or just sit and wait for things to get better. We somehow knew lockdown was going to end, we became optimistic and improved our product so it can help more beauty stylists when regulations get relaxed.”
Since the relaxed regulations in level 3, Gevenga said they have found more interest from beauty stylists, and to mitigate the spread of the virus, the app allows a user to book online on their website.
He added that one of the new features they worked on during lockdown is contactless payments which beauty stylists can accept from their clients.
They do have plans to branch out beyond Cape Town into more provinces and to more non-student users.
The group will be going to Johannesburg in a few weeks to learn how the market operates there, hopefully making it more accessible to more people.