SA on-demand startup Prim-U is connecting beauty entrepreneurs with customers

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South African startup Prim-U is connecting entrepreneurs in the beauty industry with customers via an on-demand booking platform, and already working with hundreds of service providers.

Founded in 2018 by Thuli Hlongwane, Prim-U makes it easier for beauty businesses to access customers and allows people to easily find and book their services. 

“Entrepreneurs do not have the flexibility to manage their schedules and pricing models, and some do not have available space to work from,” Hlongwane told Disrupt Africa.

“Salons and spas have under-utilised premises and can maximise profits. Corporates need to support SMEs and encourage employee wellness. End-customers are looking for a platform that offers flexible, convenient treatment bookings.”

All of this has created a space for Prim-U to operate it, which it has done to good effect so far. Its on-demand model is now connecting more than 300 service providers with over 1,000 app users, with Prim-U monetising on commissions and subscription fees.

Up until recently the company was self-funded, but last year it raised ZAR450,000 (US$31,000) from a technology partner. It is looking for more funding – Hlongwane said it hopes to raise ZAR2.5 million (US$174,000) – to help it expand.

“We have had a huge interest from service providers and we are putting proper measures in place to provide training and upskilling to gear up for success,” she said.Prim-U also has plans to expand internationally, but any growth has to be accompanied by education of its potential market on the benefits of using technology.

“The disruption of the beauty industry with a technology solution requires a bit more work from an awareness and security point of view,” Hlongwane said.

It is a case of so far, so good for Prim-U right now, however, and the startup hopes to scale more quickly with investment in 2019.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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