How many times have you needed to get your hair done, but just don’t have time to call for an appointment? Or need a mani last minute? This is me the past 4 years! Not anymore with the Pretty Pronto App… think simple, think fast, think Tinder for beauty.
We found out the Inside Story on the Apps creator – Louise Walker.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
It was an afternoon when my husband came home for a couple of hours before he would leave again for another engagement, and this meant some unexpected spare time on my hands. Pre-baby I had always loved regular visits to the hair salon, though like a many parents, much of my former self had been put to the back burner.
It was with the promise of a two-hour reprieve that I wasted little time in Google searching and making phone call after phone call. In reality however, one telephone call at a time, my two-hour window of opportunity had soon vanished and my husband hurried out the door once again as my dry ends continued to taunt me.
Soon after as I paced the lounge room soothing a crying baby, the cogs in my mind ticked over as I knew there needed to be an easier way for time strapped individuals to make their maintenance appointments. Everyday people were finding accommodation, driving services and even a hot date, why wasn’t it just as easy to find a hairdresser or day spa? These thoughts were the conception of Pretty Pronto, there was a gaping hole in the market and I was going to fill it.
Initially, what difficulties did you face?
Initial difficulties I came up against were time and know how. I was a full-time mother and my background was health science, I had no idea how to develop an App.
Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?
Over-coming these immediate hurdles took a great deal of effort and commitment. I have two small children so I had their routines and activities to factor into my daily research and that was no small feat. It’s amazing how a woman can adapt and how a mum on mission can capitalise on small moments throughout the day and turn evenings into business productivity.
As days turned into weeks and grandparents stepped in with some babysitting backup, my market research took me down a path where I found a Perth based developer, founder of Tek Labs, who was the perfect fit for me to share and cultivate my vision.
Michael has been great. I dodged some bullets on the quest to find a developer, though upon my first meeting with Mich, finally it all felt real and as though Pretty Pronto wasn’t just a crazy idea.
What was your initial marketing strategy?
Pretty Pronto is a ‘chicken or egg’ scenario. Do you create the demand for businesses to be listed, so initially market the app to general users, or do you first market to service providers and then follow up with marketing to general users?
It was a question that no one seemed to be able to answer for me so I took the leap myself with the idea that with a healthy list of service providers, the general users would most likely come organically through social media methods.
My initial marketing strategy then evolved into reaching out to businesses with a brief phone call to mention the app and request an email address for me to then build an email marketing campaign. This has been an ongoing method of spreading awareness of Pretty Pronto and is followed up with a variety of social media activity.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Being an Entrepreneur doesn’t suit everyone, to be a successful one it takes 1000% belief in yourself and your product. As I say, Entrepreneur is just a nice word to describe that you’re slightly crazy and not being paid for it – well certainly not in the beginning.
Another skill required as an entrepreneur is to keep focus. Entrepreneurship is exposing yourself to criticism and potential failure but you cannot let these risks harness you or your idea. When you take the leap, you can’t look back, you have to keep moving forward.
And finally, I think every entrepreneur has to be ready to listen. Listen to feedback and whilst you can’t take on everyone’s opinion, listening can be an opportunity to really refine your product.
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
Mia Freedman immediately comes to mind! She’s the definition of Go Getter and for me she embodies so much that I find so valuable in today’s society. Not only did she start out in a work experience role at Cleo Magazine at age 19, fast forward to age 24 and she was the youngest editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine. A few years later she founded the largest independent women’s website in Australia as well as additional sites. She’s also a voice for National Body Image and because Mia Freedman is a bit of a She Wizard, she’s also written several books.
Despite the highly impressive CV, Mia Freedman is relatable, she’s also a fantastic advocate for women and sets the bar for so many aspiring entrepreneurs.
How have you personally measured your success?
I measure components of success on the day to day. I set daily goals and these transpire into weekly and monthly goals. As I reach each goal it’s another step forward. Hearing from Service Providers about the experience they’ve had listing with Pretty Pronto, gives me great encouragement and reassurance I’m on the right track.
For me, success also goes beyond business, it’s about maintaining my life and that of my family’s whilst working tirelessly on my project. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. They deserve me to be just as committed to them as I am my work. I love to laugh and being able to enjoy life outside of business with those who mean the most, these are great contributors to success.
Other than your business, what other hats do you wear?
My background was health and science before becoming a mother, then entrepreneur. Now days being a mum, wife and cultivating my business is my daily juggle. In the background I’m a writer too, though there aren’t enough hours on the clock for me to give writing the focus I’d like to. It’ll come in time, I have personal projects I keep on a low burn.
When you think of your journey, what is the thing you are most proud of?
In terms of my business journey, I’m so proud of taking the leap. There are people who thought a future in app development was a long shot and doubted the likelihood of my success. I could have taken notice but I’ve gone with my gut, my natural inclination to think outside the box and outside of what others consider predictable and safe.
What is your favourite app (other than yours!)?
Is it really boring to say Medicare? Skipping the queue and making online claims is fantastic!
My other answer would have to be Shazam. Having an app to identify music that you don’t know the name of is genius – I love it.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
Part of being a successful entrepreneur is opening yourself up to learning new skills and the ability to recognise your limitations. At the end of the day, there really are only so many hours in the day. There are times when you just cannot give an area of business the focus or level of skill that is required to ensure a well refined product. You have one chance of engaging a client, if they have a poor experience with a poorly functioning product, they won’t be back a second time. Get it right the first time. Upskill where you can and outsource where you can’t.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The challenge and the reward. If entrepreneurship was easy, everyone would be doing it, though some how I think I was cut out for it. I’ve experienced regular, secure employment though the satisfaction and passion I’ve experienced in such roles don’t compare to that of developing my own product. It’s truly thrilling to have a mere idea that evolves into a refined, highly technical product and then to see it utlised in public. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
I see Pretty Pronto being a household name and a go to for many. There are already plans for the continued evolvement of Pretty Pronto, of which I’m sitting tight on at the moment and I’ll be heavily involved in this. Perhaps by the end of the 10-year period I’ll have a little more time to dedicate to my other passions in life – I really need to live several life times to fit everything in on my list!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to create their own app?
Identify an everyday problem. The most successful apps are those that solve problems, simplify life and connect people.
Research, research, research. If you don’t have programming expertise, find a great developer and get ready to learn a lot. Finding a professional who’s the right fit for your project and who can produce a well-functioning app is worth every dollar.
Finally, building and maintaining an app is costly, ensure you can keep up with the costs and think outside of the box when it comes to raising money. In addition to raising funds, ensure your app has inbuilt functions for generating income. Such capabilities in your app increases your apps value as well provides a source of funding.