Hyderabad: Change is the only constant in life, said Greek philosopher Heraclitus. True to his words, when one thinks of having achieved goals, life throws newer challenges. And this is what happened with Sudheer Koneru, co-founder of Zenoti.
This ex-Microsoft director started a software company called SumTotal Systems, and after running it for eight years, he thought about hanging up his boots and relax. But life had other plans for him as something that was started as a fun investment went on to become a company with a valuation of $1 billion (normally called a unicorn), about 10 years later.
“After exiting from SumTotal, I was not working for almost two years and used to spend my time travelling and doing wellness things like Yoga. Around that time, I invested in this spa and salon chain called Latitude and Tangerine and was actively involved in its day-to-day operations for almost one to two years. In those two years, I learned a lot about gym, spa and realised that this was not my calling,” says Koneru.
As a software developer himself, Koneru realised that the spa and salon industry lacked good software support to run their large businesses and they were heavily dependent on manual data entries which were not easy. “That is why we ended up selling the Latitude business to Apollo and now it is called Apollo Life Studio. However, this challenge is what gave birth to Zenoti,” says the IIT-Chennai graduate whose company in its fourth round raised $160 million led by private equity firm Advent International, through Advent Tech and affiliate Sunley House Capital, and was valued at more than $1 billion.
Joining the list of Indian SaaS unicorns, Zenoti is an all-in-one cloud-based software solution for the spa and salon industry, and it serves about 1,000 brands and powers more than 12,000 businesses. Over 76 million bookings are made through Zenoti platform annually. The software allows the customer to manage different aspects of the business and makes it a seamless process.
Koneru credits the success of Zenoti to two major factors- employee contribution and also the exponential growth of the spa and salon industry in the last ten years. “At the time we started the company, the industry was at a nascent stage and most of the customers like Lakme had only 100 salons. But now, they have 600 salons which directly helped our business grow as well. Currently, 60 per cent of our customer base is in the US and the rest is spread across UK and India,” he says.
The company plans to use the recent funding to support its expansion in the UK and other countries and is also looking at venturing into new industries like gym apart from considering a few acquisitions in the US market. “Our next step is to get into an IPO in the US,” he says.
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