One third of the world’s population utilizes smartphones and apps that provide information, connectivity and convenience, according to a recent study by Hootstuite and We Are Social. Of that 2.5 billion users, over half are in the Asia Pacific region logging on, commenting on or booking some sort of service.
The convenience of access to data, mobile gadgets and online payment portals set against a landscape of densely populated cities, roads choking on the volume of vehicles and changing lifestyle have resulted to an exponential rise of apps that make life arguably better.
Dining preferences, transport and shopping have long been favorites that the mobile set have grown accustomed to. No longer does one have to cue or drive to get a meal, attend a meeting or go out to purchase an item as there will be some app for these errands and a lot more.
One app that has been getting a lot of attention lately is the on-demand/by-appointment self-improvement solution, SIF, that started by offering grooming, beauty and wellness services that eliminated the travel and waiting time people usually took for granted. Sure, home-service has long existed, especially for the high-end market but, now, SIF has made it accessible to anyone with a few swipes.
Within a span of six months since it was first launched, SIF has been populating from two partner independent contractors to a current 300-strong combined force of partner establishments and independent contractors.
Such growth is not surprising though as behind the app is Luigi Nuñez, known as an innovator and founder of world-renowned beer chilling system Beer Below Zero (BBZ). Not only did BBZ change the way consumers preferred their brews but, it also holds the distinction of being one of the first Filipino start-ups to breach the US$10M valuation.
“What used to be a 20-minute drive has now become over an hour for most parts of the day. Multiplied over the number of errands or services that one would need to have over the course of a month, these minutes and hours on the road do add up to unproductive time,” Nuñez explains.
Nuñez’ first investment in the tech space clearly provides a solution to the challenges faced by consumers in today’s hectic and stressful environment.
With his strategic partners and their respective expertise, Nuñez was able to conceptualize, develop, test and deploy SIF by simply centering on what would have the most traction based on what the digitally connected might want.
“While SIF’s main goal has always been to provide everyone a way to escape the hassles of Metro traffic, a detraction that makes people realize that 24 hours a day is sometimes not enough for all the errands and needs we travel for. In effect, what SIF provides its users is access to the most valuable commodity, time,” Nuñez added.
In its next iteration, expected to launch by mid-September of this year, SIF will undergo a major update that will then include various home services for the betterment of one’s self: SIF Health (diagnostics, drips, chiropractors), SIF Beauty and Wellness (massage, body scrubbing, hair and makeup), SIF Nutrition (dieticians, nutritionists, meal planners), SIF Fashion (stylists, personal shoppers, tailoring, haberdashery), SIF Fitness (personal trainers, yoga instructors), SIF Care (physical therapists, sports therapists), SIF Skills (personal coaches, executive coaches, tutors).
The app will also have an e-commerce aspect where users will be able to purchase products from Davines, Tigi, Bedhead and Scrub by Talulah among the growing list of brand partners.
The ingenuity of utilizing ingredients that solve perennial problems faced by a sector is not the only advantage Nuñez and his partners possess. This, paired with tenacity and a can-do mindset, have proven to be crucial in excelling whether in advertising sales, brewing local beers or now, giving back a very valuable commodity which is time.
The simple idea with relevant results has also caught the attention of international investors. Speculation is that the company is now valued at $1.5M because of the milestones it was able to achieve in six months and its potential to scale up and expand to other markets rapidly given its unique synergistic mode. It won’t be a surprise if it turns out to be the country’s first tech unicorn.
“The secret sauce to SIF’s tremendously fast growth was the ability to pivot from being an independent entity to synergizing with existing establishments who wanted to add a revenue stream by offering home services. Why compete when we can synergize?” Nuñez revealed.
With SIF expected to grow even more in the next few months, Nuñez already lined up four more ground-breaking app-based projects and is working on a timeline that will see them available in the market by next year.