Busy bees

On-demand beauty services app ‘Missbeez’ continues to empower female entrepreneurs while looking to the future.

Maya Gura, co-founder and CEO of Missbeez (photo credit: MISSBEEZ)
Maya Gura, co-founder and CEO of Missbeez
(photo credit: MISSBEEZ)
Maya Gura is no stranger to start-ups. When she launched Missbeez with co-founder Gil Bouhnick in 2015 in Tel Aviv, it was her third go-round. Her previous successful endeavors include Picscout, an image-recognition technology influencing global copyrights for photographers and videographers that was bought by Getty Images; and The Gifts Project, an e-commerce company that was bought by eBay.
The Missbeez app provides beauty services to more than 60,000 users and employs approximately 500 female professionals. While the road to Missbeez was not paved with gold-colored polish, it’s been a long and winding journey for Gura to get where she is today.
Gura grew up in Lithuania and made aliya with her family in 1988, when she was 11, after many years of unsuccessfully trying to attain permission to leave the Soviet Union. “My parents were always Zionists,” Gura says. “All of our relatives already lived here. Basically, we were the last ones.”
One day after The Gifts Project was acquired, Gura went to volunteer at a rehabilitation center for women. Her entrepreneurial success had not yet led her to the fulfillment she was seeking.
“My whole life, I’ve been encouraging women to get into technology and stay there because that can be a challenge for those who are married and have kids,” Gura says.
“There are so many populations who don’t find it accessible; either they don’t have the basic education, or don’t know English well enough. Working with this underprivileged population at the rehab, I was inspired by these platforms for women to become self-employed and leverage the technology to become a successful business owner. I was looking for a social business model that could use technology to train people and create opportunities, but it was hard to find. So I came up with one.”
Around the same time, Gura went for her second MA in criminology at Bar-Ilan University, which led her to work at a prison for two years. Again, she witnessed an underprivileged population of women with few opportunities to utilize their considerable skill sets – and just like that, Missbeez was born.
The name alludes to a busy bee; a woman who works all day and then typically comes home to children, a husband and a seemingly endless to-do list. It is a dual-purpose platform. On one hand, it’s a women- to-women community where female professionals can offer their beauty services. On the other hand, it is an at-home or at-the-office service for women who are too busy to schedule regular trips to the salon.
“We help our customers get thing done in a faster, more efficient way,” Gura explains. “We help our customers whenever they need us, because we come to their homes. It could be 10 a.m. or 10 p.m., but the whole idea is if you need a beauty treatment or a massage, we can be flexible and can come to you. If you have kids or are just busy with life and work, we help you do your thing without spending so much time on it. On the other hand, we are helping female entrepreneurs launch and maintain their businesses through our platform by giving them endless access to customers. We work with them closely in terms of community management, accounting, equipment and micro-loans if needed. They want to become professionals and expand their knowledge in whatever profession that is.”
In this regard, Missbeez works in cooperation with another Israeli organization, Yozmot Atid, which provides holistic support to help female entrepreneurs from marginalized populations launch and sustain their own successful, small businesses. They have a similar approach to Missbeez in terms of women’s micro-entrepreneurship, however, Missbeez provides a customer base to the female professionals who work with them. In this way, it is a technology platform that both caters to and empowers women. As a smartphone application, it offers 150 types of services: nails, hair removal, makeup, hair styling, body treatments, tanning and more. In each location, there is a slightly different package of services available, depending on demand. In Jerusalem, they’ve been asked to provide wig styling. It’s something that is currently in development.
IN TERMS of what the future holds, Gura wants to expand the services offered into fitness, parenting and home services.
“Ideally, Missbeez will become this one magical button on your phone, where you press it and somebody comes to give you whatever you need,” Gura adds. “As we grow globally and expand in Europe, I see us getting to the point where we work with thousands of professionals and create a solid income and financial future for all of them. My dream is to help other women to become successful and to be independent in their success. It has to be an internal power that leads them to become successful and not to have to ask, or depend on others.”
Missbeez is currently located in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, London and Barcelona. It is currently in the midst of expanding in the UK and to France and Germany. Maintaining quality control during this expansion is paramount. To this end, the Missbeez team includes managers who verify and guarantee the training and experience of all professionals, in addition to meeting with each one. As a technology company, the goal is to create technology that engenders good in the world. Gura believes that anyone who develops something should be aware of what it can do to – and for – the human beings who are using it. The fact that Missbeez creates incredible opportunities for women was very much deliberate and something of which Gura is proud to be part.
“Missbeez is creating a much better world for so many women,” Gura shares. “Our idea is to become the largest concierge service for busy, working women, to help them deal with daily chores and endless to-do lists.”
Gura recently attended the OurCrowd Summit, where she represented Missbeez on two different discussion panels, as well was throwing herself into a three-day marathon of meetings with potential partners and investors.
“There were 10,000 people there, which was twice as much as the previous year,” Gura exclaims. “It was amazing. OurCrowd is also a start-up and they drew people from all over the world. The content was curated in a phenomenal way. I’ve been to so many conferences in my life and it’s rare when I can enjoy one, but with this I could. It was really well organized; big yet with so many intimate points. It was also exhausting! I met a lot of people and the value was incredible.”
One of the new people Gura met was a partner from Colombia who is using the Missbeez technology and operations to open a version of the app in Latin America. Gura also met someone who runs a global corporation of spas and gyms. Since Missbeez wants to include fitness services in the near future, Gura now has someone who can advise on how to set up these new services, what the values are for trainers, etc.
“Our goal now is to expand geographically and offer more services in more locations,” Gura says. “Right now 15 to 20% of our professionals are single moms. For this type of population, if you want to be a beautician, you need to work afternoons. It’s impossible to be a mom and to work. With Missbeez, it gives them complete freedom to work when they want to work. They can also double or triple their income instantly. These are the important points.”