It all started with a massage – today I’m speaking to Lopo Champalimaud, co-founder and CEO of online beauty booking service Treatwell.

Treatwell has experienced explosive growth over the past few years. It’s launched in 11 countries across Europe and is currently at around 500 employees. You might have used Treatwell yourself to book an appointment – or at the very least seen the ads around London.

It’s a great business idea – but the poor guy picked one of the world’s most digital-backwards industries to try and modernise. I spoke to Lopo about Treatwell’s journey and his ups and downs along the way.

Watch the video below or skip to the bottom of this post for the audio-only version.

We talked about:
• How a botched massage booking spawned the idea for Treatwell;
• The difficulty of digitising a pretty non-digital industry;
• Treatwell’s dip into daily deals (and how long it took to kill it);
• Which came first – the customers or the salons;
• The importance of marketing vs. supply;
• What to do when your business is running out of money;
• And how to crack Europe (and fail at cracking America).

Lopo on…

Transforming from a daily deals site to a booking platform:

The daily deals thing became just so over-hyped…there was promiscuity in both consumers and suppliers. There was no loyalty… so I turned to my board and I said, listen, I think that this daily deal thing, the economics don’t make sense anymore, I think we should focus on this core business that’s been growing very well underneath this whole thing.

Surrounding yourself with the right people:

You’re only as good as the people round you, I think… you need a group of people who believe in you, believe in the business, but also have the right attitude.

The problem of supply and demand:

There’s this constant chicken-and-egg problem, which we solve more by adding supply. And so up until about a year and a half, two years ago, we had 50 people in supply, both acquiring and managing supply. But we had two people in marketing….(However) today I’d argue it’s probably more like 50/50. But I don’t think the supply problem’s over.

Why Treatwell is not in America…yet:

So we’re the biggest in the world doing what we do, there’s no-one in the US who competes with us. We think the US is an interesting market, but we feel like there was work to do in terms of making sure we have consolidated Europe.

People Tell Richard Stuff: Episode 26
Lopo Champalimaud, co-Founder & CEO, Treatwell

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Lopo Champalimaud, co-founder & CEO, Treatwell