Wahanda.com, a start-up whose backers include lastminute.com’s co-founder Brent Hoberman, is looking to provide spa and wellness customers and suppliers with an online community and marketplace.
Chief executive Lopo Champalimaud, told Travolution that the spa and wellness sector was worth more “than the film and music business combined” and that great opportunity existed online to bring together suppliers and customers.
“There is a lack of information for customers about what treatments are available and where these treatments are available,” he said. “It’s also difficult to book these treatments online.”
The site soft- launched in May, and has already established a directory of 1,200 suppliers. It has also started to publish member reviews of spas and treatments.
“The community parts of the site will be an important part of the revenue model, but it wont be full of ads,” he said. “Communities are becoming important in how people make purchase decisions, and I don’t think it makes sense to split the community from the transaction like TripAdvisor and Expedia have done. Amazon has the right idea.”
The site will not be marketed as a luxury offer. “This is a site for everybody,” he said. “Ideas about wellness are now incorporated into our everyday lives.”
Initially, the site’s transactional nature will be based around gift vouchers, including Wahanda-branded ones which can be used with participating suppliers. In time, it will be possible to book treatments online. “We’re looking at a number of options on how to best achieve this,” he said.
Champalimaud was formerly MD of European lifestyle for lastminute.com. The site’s IT director Julian North and chief architect Ben Halstead also worked with lastminute.com and sister business Travelocity. Wahanda’s COO is Salim Mitha, previously Senior European Director at Yahoo! Search and Social Search.
The site will be marketed through the usual online channels, although Champalimaud is hopeful that ‘our investor base will give us profile.’ As well as Hoberman, backers include last.fm former exec chairman Stefan Gläenzer and Wolf Hengst, former president of Worldwide Operations at upmarket hotel chain Four Seasons. The bulk of the reported £1.5m initial funding came from Ambient Sound Investments, a fund set up by Skype veterans.
Elsewhere, mydeco, the interior web site founded by Hoberman earlier this year, has picked up £7.35m in second round funding, with the cash earmarked to fund international expansion.