Fresha, a business platform for salons, spas and beauty and wellness pros, extends Series C by $52.5M at a $640M+ valuation – TechCrunch

Fresha, a business platform for salons, spas and beauty and wellness pros, extends Series C by $52.5M at a $640M+ valuation – TechCrunch

The beauty and wellness industry, annually worth some $4 trillion, is underpinned by tens of thousands of businesses and millions of professionals carrying out haircuts, treatments and workouts. Today, a company called Fresha, which provides a software stack to help them run those operations, is announcing new funding of $52.5 million to continue building out its own business.

Fresha got its start, and is best known among its 60,000 customers, for its booking software, which it provides on a subscription-free basis, charging instead based on taking a cut on payments, or first-time bookings and marketing messages (if a customer chooses those latter two options). But its ambitions, co-founder and CEO William Zeqiri said in an interview, are to be the go-to destination for any digital tool that a salon or independent professional might need to run a business: like Shopify, LinkedIn, Wix, Square or QuickBooks, but tailored for the specific demands of beauty and wellness professionals.

“Stylists [and other beauty and wellness professionals] are not really trained in business management,” he said. “Our goal is to free that up and automate all aspects of their business.”

Michael Lahyani and BECO Capital co-led the round, with previous backers General Atlantic, Partech, Target Global and FMZ Ventures also participating. Fresha has raised $182 million overall.

This latest funding is coming in the form of a Series C extension — Fresha raised the first $100 million in June of this year — and with it, the startup’s valuation has shot up to over $640 million. For context, the company previously had not disclosed its valuation, but Zeqiri confirmed that it increased significantly in the extension due to the company’s own growth in the last six months.

Beauty and wellness had a mixed bag of luck as the pandemic took hold across the world. People overall were going out a lot less, or not at all, and thus spending significantly more on products to treat themselves at home. But on the other hand, COVID-19 led to a lot of municipalities shutting down salons to help curb the spread of the virus; and in cases where they were open, they had to follow more restrictive protocols for the customers who did show up.

That presented an obvious challenge to a company like Fresha, built around the premise of providing appointment booking and payments for in-person, very physical businesses. However, like other tech companies that have carved out a niche for themselves in providing tools specifically catering to and mastering the needs of a specific service-industry vertical — Toast being on strong example — Fresha’s focus helped it identify the opportunity inherent in that challenge.

Today, Fresha’s tools include booking and point-of-sale payment software — used in some 120 countries with its biggest markets the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, where it sees tens of millions of appointments booked monthly and has processed $15 billion in transactions to date.

But Zeqiri said that with the big shift among Fresha’s customers to move more interactions and services online in the wake of COVID-19, Fresha has built a “Shopify” for beauty and wellness websites to sell goods and services (this is launching in the coming days). It’s now in the process of finishing up …….