Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bonsoul: Successful startup by an young entrepreneur

People are often fickle about the choices they make and the places they visit, especially when it’s something related to their well-being. Many of us spend hours trying to search for the perfect place to get a haircut or that wonderful spa which helps us relax. In order to simplify this process for people and save them the trouble is Bonsoul, India’s first online network of spas and salons.

Started by Alekhya Nadendla in June 2014, Bonsoul currently operates in seven cities. While the office is based in Hyderabad, Bonsoul also offers its services in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune. “We are a platform for any form of wellness centres and we make it easier for the customers to find something regarding fitness, relaxation or beauty, like a spa or a salon,” says Nadendla.

With the prominence of the Internet among the general public today, one can easily search for a location of any spa or a fitness centre by typing the name of their area on portals like JustDial. But Bonsoul has more to offer. “What we offer is something more in-depth. We provide the menu of the spas and salons, we inform customers about what classes are going on at a fitness centre and its timings, what sort of membership is available at a gym, etc. We also mention the prices with the consent of the spa and salon owners,” explains Nadendla on what makes Bonsoul stand out from the rest.

They may provide details of different wellness centres across the country but Bonsoul filters the best from the rest. Taking us through the process, Nadendla says, “We conduct thorough background checks and we don’t sign up any and everyone. There are certain standards that we follow. We do a lot of research initially, zero in on the places we want and then go ahead and speak to the owners. We take pictures of the place, menu and their contact details, apart from their complete consent, before putting it up on the website.”

Apart from helping people locate the best spas and fitness centres, it also provides a booking system, so that customers can be spared the hassle of the process. “We have a very simplified booking system where you can just go online and book a spa, fitness or beauty service and we confirm it through an SMS,” says Nadendla.

The 27-year-old who is from Hyderabad had worked in Miami, the US, for eight months as an interior designer before she returned to work in her father’s manufacturing company, Peace India Ltd., in Hyderabad. However, being an independent woman, she soon decided to start her own company and Bonsoul was conceived. Why did she choose to do so? Nadendla replies, “During my extensive travels, I find it very difficult to find a place for a hair cut or a beauty salon. Normally I have to depend on word-of-mouth, and even then you don’t really know who’s giving you the best information about any place, what’s available in it and what’s not. That is when I decided to start Bonsoul.”

Another advantage that Bonsoul offers is that once a customer subscribes with it, they are assured of acquiring its services in any city where it’s present. “If a customer, who is signed up with Bonsoul, travels to another city and wants to join a gym, we will talk to the gym and we will do all their work. We tell them that if they are a member of our network, they are a member of all the gyms in India,” quips the  .

Like every start-ups, Bonsoul too faced its fair share of obstacles and Nadendla admits that they encountered quite a few difficulties initially. “There were a lot of skeptics and it takes time to convince anybody who is new to online booking. A lot of owners used to tell us that they already have a marketing team and they do not need our help. Initially, it was difficult to start up everything in Hyderabad but once we started, it became slightly easier to convince people to book using our website in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune,” she explains.

Even though they have plans of expanding, she says there is no chance of compromising on their quality of service. “We make sure we do our research. We have appointed interns in every city to go and check everything on behalf of us to find out what sort of standard they belong to. Only when we are convinced of the quality, do we put it up on our website,” Nadendla adds.
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