In this week’s Community Feature, we speak to Woo Sze Ming, the CEO and Founder of Gamurai Tech, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Technology Enabler company that strives to help SMEs go digital. They have developed Veon@Experience, a software tool that empowers hair salons in their daily operations.

Sze Ming (L) with Alvina (R) at BLOCK71 Singapore.

What does Gamurai do?

Initially, we called ourselves Gamurai because we wanted to create avatars to help people become virtual characters in their own community, be it movies or anime as well. Essentially, we pivoted this concept, to create Avatars for people to try out hairstyles and colour virtually in 3D. Eventually, we went into the beauty salon industry itself to create applications for them.

Did you start all of this by chance or were you interested in the hair salon industry yourself? 

Actually, we went through a brainstorming session with a group of girls in my company back then. We talked about creating avatars and what we could do with these avatars. Then this idea came out; people trying out hairstyles and colours virtually before going to the salon. Something about it made business sense so we went in for the idea.

Interestingly, the company started about 6-7 years ago. Do you feel that it is more relevant today as more young people are going for things like temporary hair dyes?

Yes definitely. All along, girls usually want to try on new things and are very interested in having new hairstyles. For example, when you see certain celebrities with a bob hairstyle and you wonder if that hairstyle suits you. Also, if you are trying some flamboyant colours like red and you don’t want to do it in real life because it is irreversible. You would want to do it virtually to see the outcome. This is a female-centric experience that they always wanted but increasingly the new-age guys are also into these trends as well.D

What are some of Gamurai’s salon tools?

I would say it’s a suite of software service tools to empower them in terms of their business operations. Essentially there are 4 tools right now; a company management tool, a branch management tool, a stylish tool, as well as a customer mobile app. Big salons have multiple outlets across different regions, they will need a company management tool to manage their business operations. Small businesses branches are actually stand-alone businesses on their own so they have things like appointments, walk-ins, point sales, inventory management and commission tracking, Everything that has to do with running the entire salon operations are captured within our branch management tool. For the stylist tool, we feature hair catalogues, 3D virtual try-on, customer data collection, commission tracking, appointment bookings and even streaming Korean dramas. It is very centric around the stylists’ workflow processes. On the final front, we have the customer mobile app that allows them to book appointments directly with the salons, receive promotions and track past receipts and records. All of it will be captured within the customer mobile app.

Company Management Tool for hair salons

How is your product different from other salon operation tools?

The hair beauty salon industry is very much a traditional business altogether. Many software that you see in the market right now, they have been there for the past 20-30 years and there’s not much innovation. Those are actually on-premise software businesses, which means that the software is installed as a .exe file on a certain desktop. If the desktop breaks down for whatever reason, basically the entire business operations cannot be run anymore. What we have is a cloud-based solution, you can actually use this application anytime, anywhere on any device as long as you have Internet and a touch-screen device. It really frees up the business operators. Even if they travel overseas, they know exactly what is happening within their retail premises.w

Veon salon tools are cloud-based and powered on mobile devices.

What kind of hair salons do you have on your platform?

At this moment we don’t have the big boys onboard yet but we have a lot more heartland salons and individual one-unit concept salons. Most of them are very forward-looking. For traditional businesses to adopt new digital solutions, there are actually a lot of considerations. Even if the management buys in, they still need their employees, the branch managers, to gel up their employees’ enthusiasm in adopting new technology. Most of the staff right now are of the older generation, especially the business owners and managers. Sometimes it’s hard to get these staff to adopt new technology but for forward-looking salons, they have seen tremendous productivity improvement. They are now able to manage their entire salon operations using digital tools instead of using manual processes now.

What are some of the call-to-action for your audience/ any shoutout you want to make?

If you are running a salon business, you can go to our website at www.veonhair.com. That’s our product website and you will be able to see how much grants you can get from the government. If you are an overseas collaborator looking for partnerships, we are actually looking for people who are able to bring our solutions to serve their local community. Let’s say you distribute salon equipment and products, you would like to go digital and start serving your own business partners and community, please look for us!

Watch the full video interview with Gamurai Tech here:

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