Vagaro, the leading comprehensive business management platform for the beauty, fitness, and wellness industries, reached a $1 billion valuation after a recent investment by FTV Capital.
The newly designated unicorn company’s very humble beginnings meant this ascent was anything but guaranteed.
Founder and CEO Fred Helou is an immigrant entrepreneur from Beirut, Lebanon. He left the country during the Lebanese civil war at the age of 19 in hopes of making a better life for himself in America.
Helou had just a few thousand dollars to set off and start his new life, but he was pickpocketed for everything he had during an airport layover on his way to the U.S.
He arrived in America with $0 and began working as a delivery/pickup boy for just $5 an hour. Helou tirelessly worked his way up the ranks while also attending school full-time.
Years later, he landed a job as software director at Novellus but was subsequently laid off during The Great Recession.
Turning adversity into opportunity, Helou decided to put the wheels in motion for an idea he’d had years earlier while on a business trip in South Korea. The concept was simple enough – he needed to make a haircut appointment with his barber back in America. At the time, there was not an app or online option to do so.
In 2009, he created Vagaro from the ground up, which later bloomed into the successful start-up it is today.
Most importantly, Helou hasn’t lost sight of the importance of the personal connections with users that he fostered during the company’s infancy.
Helou says, “I was 24/7 support. I’d answer the phone at 2 A.M. for somebody asking me how to upload a photo. I still have a lot of customers that call me that signed up with me from day one. They still have my cell phone number.”
Vagaro continues to grow at the forefront of innovation and recently expanded full services for international customers in several countries.
Helou says, “We’re still learning as we go. I feel like we’re barely scratching the surface, I feel like this is just the beginning.”
Learn more about Vagaro’s origin story in this short video.
Vagaro, Inc. is the leading business management and payment processing platform, and online marketplace for the beauty, fitness, and wellness industries. Service professionals in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia use Vagaro to manage, market and grow their business. Consumers choose Vagaro to search for and book wellness services on any device. To learn more, visit Vagaro.com and https://sales.vagaro.com.