Pablo Lago is the CEO and one of the founders of Bucmi, a portal for making online appointments at hairdressers and beauty salons, which is already being used by customers from nearly 400 centers throughout Spain. A daily activity turned into something much more simple and efficient, as always, through innovation.
Graphic designer by profession and entrepreneur by nature, Pablo, at 34 has been behind the launch of technology companies in Spain such as Pepephone and left the studio he founded and all customers he had as a consultant to devote himself to turn his idea into a reality. He himself tells us why he chose Bucmi and what is special about being an entrepreneur.
How did the idea of Bucmi come about?
One of my partner's had backache. He couldn't contact his physiotherapist because he was on vacation. He didn't know when he would return, or his availability to give him an appointment when he did. He called me and we started working on developing an online diary where professionals could show their free time, so that their customers could make an appointment without having to call them.
What's more important? Having a good idea or achieving something with it?
Achieving something with it, without a doubt. You can always come up with a good idea, but from there to turning it into reality or business there are thousands and thousands of hours of suffering.
Why is Bucmi an innovative idea?
It's actually not a very innovative idea (he laughs). We're really taking something that already exists, online bookings, to the health and beauty industry. Sales and online booking tools have been used for many years by hotel chains and airlines and we are now giving them to hairdressers, physiotherapist and spas.
Who makes up the Bucmi team?
The team currently consists of 11 people, divided into 4 departments: product development and programming, sales team, customer service and marketing. Beside me, the team is led by Javier García de la Calera, who has also been an entrepreneur for many years in leisure-related businesses. The customer service department is run by Tania Castaño, who had the same role in Groupon Spain, and Cristina Castilla runs the sales team, who has worked for several Internet companies, such as Youzee.
What barriers have you encountered when selling your product?
The biggest challenge was getting professionals to use Bucmi at first. They liked the idea of online booking, but all change is nearly always rejected at first. We resolved it by devoting all our efforts for three months to get 20 first-class salons in Madrid to start using Bucmi. Once we get these 20 centers, which are clear leaders in the market, we found it much easier to attract the next 50.
At what point of development of your business are you now?
Bucmi is already being used by nearly 400 salons and spas in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Bilbao and our goal is to continue to attract more centers throughout Spain to reach 1,200 at the beginning of next year. We are also greatly improving our technology and we have just launched iPhone and Android apps where the experience of booking an appointment is much more user friendly.
What other things are being done in the world related to innovation and technology that are worth noting?
On the Internet and within our sector, health and beauty, many businesses have worked with group sales coupon companies like Groupon or Groupalia. There are other companies in Spain that are doing the same as us; one of them is Pidecita.com, which was the winner of Open Talent a few years ago. There are several companies abroad that do the same as us and are growing rapidly within their country such as Wahanda in the UK or Styleseat in the U.S.
Have you entered or would you enter a talent/innovation contest such as 'Open Talent'?
We've not entered any contest. We would have liked to, but we never have the time. At the beginning, in 2012, we entered the project in the Telefonica Wayra accelerator; we were selected and today they are Bucmi partners.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?
My experience is whatever you do, you're probably going to do it wrongly a thousand times. What you think is going to work may turn out badly and you have to move on somehow. Whatever happens, do not stop working, be very clear about where you want to reach and be very patient. Many successful businesses we read about in the press took 3, 4 or 5 years to take off.