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Timma finds just the right time for pampering

Timma is set to digitalise the way we search and book hairdressers and masseuses.Shutterstock

When a hairdresser and a potential client happen to have the same two-hour slot vacant in their calendars, Finnish company Timma brings them together – saving time and money and boosting business.

Hotels and restaurants have had them for what feels like forever: marketplaces where people can browse and make their choice based on pricing, location and customer reviews. Although the platforms take their slice of the money, it tends to be a win-win situation, as it helps service providers gain visibility without too much marketing and keep an eye on the competition. Customers, for their part, can easily compare different options and avoid unpleasant experiences by reading about those of others.

That’s not the case with hairdressers, cosmetologists and massage therapists. More often than not, people have to do extensive Google searches to find someone near them, keep their fingers crossed for transparent pricing and expected quality, and consider themselves lucky if they stumble across a suitable last-minute time slot.

Sounds cumbersome, not far from the phone-book yellow pages; but it doesn’t have to be that way. Finnish company Timma is set to digitalise the way we search and book our pampering, be it next door to our homes or away on holiday.

Timma is applying a logic familiar from horeca to the service industry by offering a software and a marketplace in one package. Image: Timma

“The market is huge,” says co-founder and chief strategy officer Miikka Kujala. “So many entrepreneurs in these industries are just using pens, papers and phones. Timma can make it all a lot easier for everyone.”

No risks with no-shows

Simply put, Timma enables consumers to search for a new hairdo, relief for their sore muscles or a facial on the map. The prices are easy to spot, and users can leave reviews and share their experiences, helping spread the word about the best in-town services. The map view also helps travellers find trusted services near them wherever they are: for example, in case a Helsinkian happens to have free time after a business meeting in Oslo.

For entrepreneurs, Timma offers a great way to ensure there are as few empty slots in the calendar as possible, maximising revenue and efficiency. On the platform, businesses can offer last-minute bookings at a discount and invoice the customer directly through Timma, without risking losing the money in case of no-show.

However, the digital calendar isn’t the only thing Timma can help entrepreneurs with. Kujala emphasises that pretty much everything but bookkeeping can be organised through Timma, all the way from a cash register and a booking system to a GDRP-compliant client listing.

“For instance, a hairdresser can record a customer’s hair dye code on the system to see it automatically as they book an appointment,” Kujala explains.

Miikka Kujala is one of the six founders, who have grown Timma to a nearly 20-strong international company. Image: Timma

The platform has been developed in close collaboration with entrepreneurs, with some piloting it in everyday use before it became commercially available. That’s why Kujala is confident in saying their solution is the best on the market.

Testing out new digital waters

Timma was founded by Kujala and five of his friends, all students at Aalto University. Some of them were studying business, some industrial management, and the rest were into computer science – the perfect combination for Timma.

The first version of Timma as software-as-a-service was launched in 2015. Since then, it has become wildly popular in Finland, with over 2 500 businesses using it. Timma charges a monthly fee and, when clients book through the service, a commission.

“Currently we’ve got neither time nor need to do any marketing, as there are so many people contacting us directly,” Kujala explains.

A year-and-a-half ago, Timma travelled to Sweden. Taking over the market in the western neighbour was a little trickier than back at home, as two conventional players already shared the majority of the market. Slowly but surely, Timma started to gain traction.

In May, Timma acquired a Norwegian competitor. This way, Timma got an experienced sales team with extensive market knowledge, and the sales team got a better product than what they originally had.

Further expansions are being planned, with the team mapping market maturity and competition across Europe. Kujala believes that the need for a service like Timma is only set to grow, as entrepreneurs realise how much time and effort digitalisation can save them by freeing them from answering calls and hand-writing in notebooks.

“Customers are increasingly seeking for flexibility and wanting to be able to book their appointments whenever they feel like it,” he notes. “That’s the direction we’re headed in, and businesses will have to follow suit.”

In 2016, Timma got a seed funding boost of 350 000 euros from Reaktor Ventures to boost its internationalisation efforts. Image: Screenshot/Timma
By: Anne Salomäki