CITYWIDE — In 2011, Santa Monica resident Kourosh Gohar was trying to schedule a much-needed haircut but couldn’t get an appointment because the salon was too busy. He was frustrated and felt there had to be an easier way to book appointments.
He mentioned an idea of an online scheduling platform to his wife, who laughed it off until two weeks later when she was stuck in traffic in Los Angeles and wanted to book her appointments.
“She said ‘I need it now! Where is the site?'” Gohar said.
Gohar, with the help of Tony Rhoton and Todd Zebert, decided to form an online platform where their main target audience was busy, professional women and mothers who could book all their appointments in one place.
“They do a lot of appointments for the families and for themselves,” he said.
Santa Monica-based Kuyam (www.kuyam.com), which means “a place of gathering” in a Native American language, was launched last year and in March of this year the company came out with its mobile app for the iPhone and Android, said Gohar, president and CEO.
“We have been trying to create a community,” Gohar said. “Our goal is to figure out what the user wants to do and serve them.”
They decided to focus the platform on core areas associated with lifestyle such as health and fitness, kid activities and beauty.
Gohar, who would only say a “decent amount of money” was spent to get the company off the ground, said it was a lot of “effort.” Kuyam advertises at health and fitness events and through social media.
There are more than a couple thousand users who book appointments on the website, Gohar said.
Users can sign up for a new account or through Facebook for free access of the site to find vendors. They can browse for vendors by looking at full profiles, photos and business hours, and Kuyam books the appointment for them. Customers only pay the price of the appointment. They can search for a wide array of services ranging from dance and music lessons to yoga, self defense, massages and personal trainers.
And if a customer’s choice of vendor isn’t on the list, Gohar said there’s a way for them to tell the company what vendors they use. Kuyam will still book an appointment.
“As a part of the search process if you can’t find it, let us know,” Gohar said.
Businesses, who get a free listing, are charged 5 percent plus 99 cents per booked appointment, Gohar said. He said Kuyam is not a “deal site.”
“It’s a one stop shop,” he said. “Deals sites, they’re mostly designed for people who want a quick fix or they want to find the fastest or cheapest route. We think the service providers should be paid what they’re worth.”
Gohar wouldn’t say how many businesses are affiliated with the website.
Tikkun Holistic Spa has been a vendor on the Kuyam website since March. Niki Schwarz, owner of the spa, said it’s nice to have the spa advertised on the website.
She said sometimes the spa will spend thousands of dollars on advertising and have one customer come in.
“So 5 percent is really nothing when you think all that they do for us,” she said. “They’re still a new site so we have had a few people come in, but I am expecting more as they get bigger.”
In the future, Gohar said Kuyam plans to expand in different markets outside of Los Angeles and California and include a wider age range for both men and women.