by Alex Galbinski
Imagine a scenario in which you desperately need a haircut or manicure, or even a workout session, but you don’t have time to leave your desk or home. Step forward a PRIV consultant to fulfil your every beauty or health need.
PRIV, an on-demand smartphone app along similar lines to Uber taxis was set up in New York in March 2014 by two friends, Joseph Terzi and Morris Sutton, who met at Camp David aged 10.
Since then, the service, which has the tagline ‘Beauty and wellness on demand’ and uses geo-tagging to match customers to consultants, has been rolled out in LA, the Hamptons, Orange County, California, and Austin, Texas. And, last November, it finally arrived in London.
PRIV (short for “privileged”) allows the customer to choose from several treatments – a blow-dry, haircut, make-up, fitness, massage, manicure, spray tan and, for men, a shave – and then select a vetted consultant (whose reviews and portfolio are available for browsing) and a desired time and location for the appointment. Then all the client needs to do is wait for the knock at the door. Prices are comparable with London salons and include tips.
Co-founder Sutton explains what attracted him to the idea of PRIV. “The conveniences and luxuries that have been made possible with mobile on-demand businesses make for such an exciting world,” he says. “What was previously available only to the most privileged individuals in the world has now become accessible to everyone.”
Describing PRIV’s typical female customer, Sutton says: “She is a 25-to-35-year-old working woman or a young stay-at-home mum who is attracted to PRIV by its convenience and the flexibility of booking an appointment anywhere – whether it’s in the office before a big event or at home while the baby is sleeping.” However, he adds: “Our repeat users are 20 percent men.”
The company’s success has come as a shock. “We honestly could not have expected what PRIV has become,” says the 33-year-old. “It has been a roller-coaster ride and each day brings new exciting challenges.”
Hair care makes up 36 percent of PRIV’s business, followed by nails (22 percent), make-up (15 percent), fitness (14 percent) and massage (13 percent). Around 40 percent of PRIV’s total customers have made return appointments.
Speaking of appointments, people have used PRIV in some unusual places. Sutton reveals there was a spray tan in Central Park, a manicure in a random bar, yoga on the beach in LA and blowdries in the stairwell of an office building. “When we say anywhere, anytime, we mean it!” he laughs.
Sutton’s background is in finance, so I ask what brought him to PRIV. “I was always project focused, even in my investments,” he explains, adding: “PRIV was too exciting a concept to take a silent investment role.
“With Joseph, PRIV is a sort of evolution of the app development company I founded with PRIV’s CTO Greg Koplytsov. After gathering years of expertise in IOS, Android and web development, as well as luxury service and app transactional businesses, PRIV was our take on the mobile on-demand revolution.”
Asked how the London operation, which is based in Mayfair with four full-time employees, not including the professionals, compares with those in New York or LA, Sutton says: “With the weather not always being optimum for running errands, we have really been able to alleviate a big need. The public transit system makes it easy for our professionals to get to appointments quickly.”
He believes the company has been so successful because the “world has changed significantly in the past several years”. “Having luxury services available to you is no longer just for the rich and famous – now, for an affordable price, and at the click of a button, the average person can have a luxury service brought to his or her doorstep within the hour,” he says.
“In addition, our professional service providers are now free from the salon system. They create their own schedules, redeem higher reward percentages for their work, and essentially learn to manage their own businesses. We are supplying a demand and stimulating the economy by providing jobs, but also we’re providing a platform that allows people to start their own freelance businesses.”
Sutton, who is based in New York, admits that it wasn’t always plain sailing. “It was a challenge getting organised early on and we needed to because of our immediate growth,” he says. “It’s ok for everyone to be doing everything when the company is in its infancy, but as soon as real traction happens, setting defined roles and responsibilities is vital.”
The company is adding more services to its portfolio. “We are going to continue to grow our brand and fine tune our platform,” explains Sutton. “We will be adding new cities and services. In addition to PRIV being our main focus, we have now reached a point where we can ‘white-label’ our brand for any other company which may want to enter the ‘on-demand’ space.
“We have grown from the ground up in the tech space, and can now offer our technology to any brand that wants to go on-demand. We have a few in the works and we are looking forward to providing them with a platform to grow their businesses on.”
• Details: www.gopriv.com