Deepti Mohanty: Inspiring a Pivotal Change in the UAE’s Beauty Industry

As a society, we practice an unsustainable way of life, full of stress, tension and illness everywhere. So, taking care of ourselves is crucial in our busy lives. As we do so, we may start to see that beauty along with health together builds a solid foundation for successful, meaningful and enriched lives. Like healthcare, the beauty industry’s services support our holistic well-being in tangible ways. It empowers you, builds your confidence and enhances your personality beyond measure.

Ms. Deepti Mohanty is a well-experienced businesswoman, having worked extensively with globally leading brands like Deloitte and Reliance in several countries across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Over the course of her professional life, she specialized in telecommunications and digital technology and had successfully led large-scale business transformation programmes. In 2018, she identified a gap in the Middle East beauty industry and set up her own company.

Deepti Mohanty
Deepti Mohanty, Founder & CEO, Vaasara

The beauty market in the MENA region in 2018 was worth $36 Billion and is expected to grow at CAGR of 10% for the next four years. Consumers in the UAE spend $250 per month on personal care, a value that is expected to reach $300 in the same time. These market factors and the gaping hole in the market resulted in setting up ‘Vaasara’ a digital company providing end-to-end digital solution for the beauty industry.

There are over 10,000 salons and spas in the UAE, and sometimes the sheer number of treatments on offer can feel rather overwhelming. Vaasara simplifies the booking process by listing salons and spas in your area, then showing their service catalog, reviews, pictures and more. This concept was revolutionary because it greatly simplified the way customers interact with service providers, bringing unprecedented convenience, ease and simplicity to the customer experience. Vaasara offers a varied range on options for its customers thereby catering to the beauty, grooming and wellness needs of Women, Men and At Home services.

The Vaasara app: Seamlessly Connecting Customers with Beauty Service Providers

“Beauty industry is growing rapidly. In 2019, $5.8 Trillion (2.5 times the GDP of India’s economy) was spent in beauty industry deals with $5.4 trillion against purchase of majority stake. Beauty brands earlier used to invest in building innovative products. However, consumers are increasingly asking for more personalized products and digital platforms, making beauty tech the rising star of the beauty industry. Beauty tech stands today where mobility industry stood 10 years ago, before the likes of Uber and now we have a variant of Uber in every country,” Ms. Deepti explains.

The Vaasara app brings the traditional paper-and-pen beauty service establishments to a digital platform. Customers can complete their booking in just four steps: (1) Finding the right service provider based on search criteria like ratings, location and safety, (2) Selecting the desired service, (3) Booking your favorite stylist at a convenient time or date and (4) Paying online or at the location later.

“As one of the very first apps in the Middle East exclusively dedicated to the beauty industry, the room to grow is staggering. Our figures will tell you our story. Since starting initially with just 13 salons, we have since partnered with over 400 salons and spas. With virtually no money spent on marketing, Vaasara has grown its user base to 20,000 users with 60% bookings made by repeat customers,” Ms. Deepti shares.

Supporting Beauty Service Establishments in the Critical Time of Need

The coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected all industries, all over the world. Unfortunately, safety guidelines such as social distancing makes it extremely difficult for service providers in the beauty industry to continue activities as usual. In such a dire time of need, Ms. Deepti has been closely working with beauty service establishments, inspiring them to survive the recession. She has been a catalyst in grooming back to business.

“During the pandemic, Vaasara was one of the only companies in the global beauty industry to launch the ‘#MySalonIsSafe’ movement to support salons and spas. We did so after carefully reviewing the guidelines provided by the World Health Organization and the Dubai government,” Ms. Deepti says.

Vaasara also increased digital and business training among the beauty service establishments owners and staff, launched a free, virtual events platform for the establishments to showcase their services to users (with combined views for all events over 100,000) and launched a joint discount campaign with the merchants.

Vaasara recognizes that the consumer has become cost conscious and increasingly using online payment methods. In line with the latest payment trends, Vaasara has also launched “Book Now, Pay Later” payment method, where a user can book a service and pay in four interest-free installments. In such times, this allows beauty service establishments to increase loyalty, increase average order value, wean consumers off discounts and improve cash flow.

A Seasoned Businesswoman with A Wealth of Valuable Professional Insights to Offer

Ms. Deepti shares that pursuing an MBA at the University of Cambridge, UK, was a life-changing experience. Studying with people from over 45 different countries, she picked up priceless lessons such as the importance of hard work as well as preparation to perform very well at a task. Having worked on projects around the world in her career, she notes that new projects within a completely new environment can powerfully shape a person, professionally and personally. Through it all, she has picked up on the importance of planning, preparation, attention-to-detail and being solution-oriented. It’s these professional values that she brings to her leadership and work culture at Vaasara.

As a successful entrepreneur and a seasoned businesswoman, Ms. Deepti has a wealth of valuable professional insights to share. For people looking to start their own company, she explains that there are three vital issues that could make or break the business. First, securing finances is absolutely critical. A great founder or an excellent business idea may be restricted by problems caused by poor finances. Second, nurturing relationships with investors is extremely important too. Finally, always improving and validating the core idea or concept.

“Starting and then growing your own company is very tough. You should create your own survival kit. You will have to figure out how to survive the tough times, both at work and outside it,” Ms. Deepti says.

Leading the Beauty Industry Towards a Brighter Future

Ms. Deepti takes a lot of pride in her team at Vaasara and considers it her strength in this journey. Regarding the core Vaasara app, she firmly believes that there is no such thing as a perfect app, but rather that any app needs to be continuously improved over time. “As a digital services company, we are always looking to improve our services. We constantly receive feedback from spas, saloons and users constantly, and we are quick to make appropriate changes to our services accordingly,” she says.

“I’m very excited about the future of Vaasara. We want to continue to grow our services across the Middle East. We are also securing very interesting strategic partnerships that we want to announce soon,” Ms. Deepti concludes, hinting at a bright future.