Helijia is a startup that provides on-demand manicure service. Reportedly, it landed a 30M RMB (around 5M USD) series A round led by IDG. The name “Helijia” sounds similar to “a good price” in Chinese and the name, translated as “beaver’s home,” brings out the startup’s mission to provide services done by hand.

Browse manicurists by distance
The LBS app lets you browse manicurists by distance

Like other on-demand services of the day, Helijia comes with an app that allows you to make appointments. You will choose either by manicurists or manicure combos based on your pre-set location. At your appointment time, the manicurist shows up with a gigantic toolkit weighing around 10kg. When your nails are done, you pay on the app via Alipay and the app will ask you to rate your manicurist. How can a new manicurist ever get user attention without any reviews to start with? It turns out Helijia will manipulate the manicurist list so that newbies get a chance.

Compared to traditional manicure, Helijia is able to charge a lower price since it does away the fixed costs of running a store, according to my on-demand manicurist. Helijia’s manicurists have to pay for their own transportation, but the on-demand mode frees up their time. Furthermore, it’s a merit-based system – the better a manicurist performs, the higher his/her customer rating, the more appointments s/he likely gets.

Alternatively, browse by service combo
Alternatively, you can browse by service combo

During my appointment, my manicurist kept reminding me to rate her and told me that I could get a discount by sharing Helijia on Weibo or WeChat. Of course, Helijia got free advertising in return if I did so.

I first knew of Helijia – lo and behold – at a fusion restaurant, Diaoye Niunan that has been trending recently in Beijing. The waiter gave me a flyer advertising the manicure startup. It turned out that Helijia’s founder is not only the founder of the restaurant but also the man behind a popular Chinese essential oil brand, Afu. Unsurprisingly, my manicurist promoted the oil to me.

Currently operating in Beijing and Shanghai and planning a debut in Shenzhen, Helijia hires around 200 manicurists. It also added on-demand air purification for car to its app – also a service “done by hand.” We might see Helijia slowly adding more on-demand services to claim a slice of the O2O cake.

Telling the uncommon China stories through tech. I can be reached at ritacyliao [at] gmail [dot] com.

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