PRICEJET, recipient of Slovene Enterprise Fund's SK50 investment of 50,000 EUR convertible loan, member of the accelerator Start:up Geek House and Technology Park Ljubljana, is developing the web platform PricePilot. It gives service providers, such as hair or beauty salons or diagnostic centres, the opportunity to offer reservations with dynamic prices and occupy all their available capacities. It enables service users to choose their own services and providers, and get price information in advance. During the summer, the platform started being used by the first salons and hotels, and in September also by the hair salon in Technology Park Ljubljana Frizurce Maruša, which is planning to use the Pricepilot booking system to bring in 50 new clients by New Year’s and increase the frequency of existing ones.
Exemplary collaboration of companies in Technology Park Ljubljana
When the hair salon Frizurce Maruša opened in Technology Park in May 2015, this brought a new client for product-testing to Mitja Poljšak, founder of company PRICEJET. As he says, hair salons with younger employees who are technologically advanced and informed are ideal as the first users of their system, because they’re aware of the trends and aren’t afraid of change.
By testing the product with real service providers, they collected quite a lot of useful information, discovered imperfections and improved algorithms. “Now that the system is guaranteed to work, we’re also ready for bigger clients, such as hair salon chains, for example,” says Mitja.
Less administration for salons, better prices for users
The clients don’t feel comfortable checking how much individual services cost or demanding another provider, not the one who answers the phone. Stylists in the hairdresser’s salon Frizurce Maruša face the same problem and on top of it, they share the same name – Maruša.
The salon owner, Maruša Hribar, who has been using the system for about a month, already feels a positive influence of online booking on business, but she realizes that only a few months of use will bring more visible results. She’s most happy about new clients that otherwise wouldn’t find the salon at all: “Right now most clients still book over the phone and I then enter their reservation into the PricePilot app. At their visit, I present the new opportunity of online booking to them. With this, administration for me decreases and clients can reserve at any time, at cheaper prices.”
Online clients are more loyal
According to the latest analyses, as Mitja says, those clients that book online return a lot more often, because they can look at free times more freely and in detail, choose the wanted provider without social pressures and are informed about the price beforehand. Most people prefer to use self-serving stores, it’s similar with booking.
At the same time, Technology Park Ljubljana is the place of work for mostly tech and development staff, who are more introverted, which is why the on-line booking system is necessary, says Mitja with a laugh.
Filling up spaces with the principle of airline companies
Mitja Poljšak says that they wish to change the salon Frizurce Maruša into an airline. When designing the product, they follow the example of airline booking systems, which have a detailed way of filling up free spaces and increasing income. The basis of the PricePilot system are online reservations with dynamic prices that level out unevenly full capacities. The system simultaneously automatizes advertising and loyalty programmes, and thus increases the demand.
A sophisticated booking system and smart algorithm
The advantage of the PricePilot platform is a more natural and self-service booking process, commitment to an advanced dynamic price-setting and advertising automatization. The system can be completely adapted to the client and their graphic image. They mostly aim at bigger clients, because they’re the ones that need a more sophisticated booking system.
The heart of the platform is a smart algorithm that automatically sets changing prices – an autopilot for setting prices. Mitja is predicting that in 5 to 10 years, we will book most services online under changeable prices, and the best platform will be the one that will know how to best predict the demand and automate business optimization, for example setting prices, advertising, and so on.
A smart algorithm is learning based on data, various factors, thus predicts the demand and based on it automatically determines prices. It takes into account the history of the orders, reached prices and predicts what the demand will be like in the future, based on the weather, calendar (proximity of holidays) and past occupancy. Based on this it then determines prices. The user can also turn off the PricePilot autopilot and set a fixed or manual variable price when they wish to.
Coupons aren’t a permanent solution
They solve problems that today usually attempt to be solved, more or less unsuccessfully, with web coupons, which usually use small print to limit the validity of the coupon to only be used in certain morning hours with prior notification. At the same time, using coupons stigmatizes the users as “stingy”, “poor” and similar. If you’re in a restaurant and are waving a coupon, you don’t feel that good, but if you bought an online plane ticket for 50 € you feel excellent among other passengers.
Coupons, according to Mitja, aren’t a permanent solution because in the eyes of the clients, they de-value the services. At the next visit, consumers also demand a price with a huge discount. If they don’t get it, they prefer to find new “incredible” opportunities with other providers.
When there is no confidence and the money runs out
They’ve been developing the web platform PricePilot for 3 years. The product could’ve seen the light of day earlier, but Mitja ran out of money during, so he had to spend a couple of months developing the product alongside a job. He was gathering courage and only then approached, with a prototype, the private investor Jugoslav Petković who recognized the potential and immediately offered the resources for development.
This strongly helped raise Mitja’s confidence, which is why he also applied for Slovene Enterprise Fund’s tender and received a 50,000 € convertible loan. This allowed him to expand the team and develop the app to a use value.
Convince the big ones and others will follow
A big market is opening to them, because in the summer they excited all bigger providers in Slovenia for using the platform. They’re also important players in Central and Southeast Europe.
When they get all the bigger salons, others will surely follow. The goal is for the platform to be used by 50 salons by 2016, is what Mitja Poljšak says now confidently.
Descriptions of all innovative startup companies, recipients of Slovene Enterprise Fund’s investments and members of accelerator programmes Start:up Geek House and Go:Global Slovenia can be found at the link.