An Amazon for online appointments and open bookings: it’s a goal, a treasure, that compels many startups to brave rough waters. Some take the course of providing niche professional services, others as a meeting place to negotiate household services. Some content themselves as a search and discovery site, others as a discount center. Most end up lost at sea.
Why is the space for online appointments so difficult to tame? Growth is difficult. The proper blend of local adaptation, adding quality service providers, building and sustaining a customer base, not easy to perfect. Offering discounts becomes the fallback measure, which opens the door to go the way of Groupon. Will some one get it right?
At a glance, MyTime might appear like a run of the mill, local services marketplace, however, a closer look at the business model of this appointment application reveals distinctions that make the startup promising.
MyTime focuses on helping businesses acquire new customers. The convenience of off-hours booking brings in unexpected business for starters. The application syncs with most popular calendar systems, making open bookings visible to a greater audience (and frees up more time by automating the process of scheduling as well). Participating businesses receive advertising through mobile and online adds placed on heavily-trafficked sites such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
A pricing plan similar to Uber, shows MyTime’s true savvy. A time-based price scale means that customers pay either full price or a premium to make appointments during peak business hours and slightly less for both last-minute slots or low-demand slots. This encourages customers to fill up the slack hours, generating more revenue.
MyTime charges a 2/5 commission for first-time bookings, which might sound steep before two factors are considered. First, the fee typically applies to money coming in that wouldn’t have in the first place. Second, MyTime only charges a 3% fee to cover CC processing on other transactions.
Yelp reviews, notifications when it’s time to rebook, one-click rebooking, freedom to make appointments for anything – from yoga classes to dental work – in one place at the user’s convenience, are just some of the measures that encourage repeat business.
L.A.-based MyTime recently released its iOS app. The startup already has two million businesses in the database, providing over eighty different services, and plans to scale to other cities. Founder and CEO Ethan Anderson was a Product Manager at Google and Director of Strategy at Buy.com. In 2010, Home Depot acquired his other founding effort, Redbeacon. Upfront Ventures, Dave McClure, David Tisch, and others led an earlier $3 million round of seed funding.
Time is money as the saying goes, and MyTime may well be the same very soon.