Ryan Baker and Andrew Schofield (Scoff) were third-time founders when they started Timely in 2012. Before Timely, they had built a successful travel booking engine called BookIt, which sold to Fairfax in 2010. BookIt became the software behind the travel division of Trade Me and it was where they met their co-founder for Timely, William Berger. While working on BookIt the co-founders had seen the opportunity with businesses that needed a similar booking platform in other industries such as clinics, salons and gyms. This was the key driver behind their motivation to start Timely. Timely was an early success, achieving recurring revenue growth of 300% year-on-year for its first few years.

Movac invested in Timely in 2017. Movac’s Fund 4 thesis was investing in growth-stage companies with good traction and strong teams. Timely had this in spades as a seasoned team with a proven ability to execute. They had established a strong board with Rowan Simpson and Michael O’Donnell (MOD), who were part of the early team at Trade Me. As an early investor in Trade Me, Movac placed a large amount of value on having their experience at the board table.

At the time of the 2017 capital raise, Ryan took a somewhat non-traditional approach and chose not to supply an IM deck to prospective investors. Instead, he provided two growth strategy documents. The first, a historical strategy deck from 2014-2017, overlayed with the results they had achieved for the period. Impressively, every milestone had been hit with perfect timing. The second, a forward-looking deck for 2017-2020.  Both decks were very clearly articulated with well thought through SMART goals.


Investment highlights

Here are some of the key reflections on Timely’s growth story:

  • The Timely culture is fantastic. Ryan and the executives focused on creating an inclusive culture where individuals felt valued and heard.
  • Timely normalised remote working long before it became necessary with COVID. They even gave employees a Timely dressing gown (a symbol of working from home) after their first year of service! They embraced people who preferred different work hours to accommodate family commitments or other interests.
  • Timely’s journey had its speed bumps with things not going to plan. The exec team never gave excuses for a poor month and always front-footed the issues. They were incredibly focused on tracking the metrics of their business. They were the masters of “measure what matters” and used these metrics to identify the root cause. They were agile in their approach to constantly improve and get back on plan.
  • In 2017, Timely narrowed its strategy from a broad audience (all businesses) to focus specifically on hair, beauty, and wellness. This was a great move as it allowed them to build targeted software that was beautifully executed and simpler for their user base to understand. Simple execution of complex functions is the key to all great software products. It also allowed Timely to market more specifically to their chosen vertical. Inbound sales can only get a company so far. Real growth comes when companies build brand and awareness which are key to driving a more effective marketing strategy.
  • Timely chose to embrace customer service when other SaaS businesses saw it as a huge margin suck. New Zealanders are naturally empathetic and want to solve customers’ problems – it’s one of our superpowers. Timely introduced new higher subscription plans that offered the customer increased support. This initiative drove better customer NPS, higher NRR and created better product differentiation.


Compassion in the COVID crisis

When COVID hit in early 2020, it had the potential to significantly impact Timely. Salons and beauty businesses were forced into closing as lockdowns spread across the globe. Salon owners were faced with no revenue and in a lot of overseas countries, owners had no idea when they might be able to re-open.

Timely approached these issues with compassion and proactiveness. They suspended or discounted subscriptions for existing customers that were not operating. They helped lobby the UK government regarding the financial difficulties of salon owners, who were mostly self-employed and therefore not covered by the UK’s COVID relief packages. They took the opportunity to implement several contactless functions, as well as launched a range of training videos aimed at helping salon staff shift their business online.

These actions during the lockdowns earned a lot of respect and recognition from the industry. When businesses started reopening, Timely was able to capitalise on this goodwill and quickly grew revenues beyond pre-COVID levels.

Internally, it was a privilege to see the trust and respect between the executives and staff, who banded together to share the pain and ensure jobs were kept. Once conditions and cash flow improved, staff were repaid any forgone wages in full. Ryan was an strong leader throughout the crisis and led by example.


Looking to the future

From late 2020 to early 2021, the company was seeking a Series B round. They were considering both private equity and venture capital, with Movac very keen to follow on. However, EverCommerce, a US-based service commerce platform, saw the opportunity to build out their Fitness and Wellness portfolio through a bolt-on acquisition of Timely. They put forward an attractive offer and the founders and board felt that it represented the best opportunity for continued strategic growth.

It was great to see the founders and Timely team rewarded for nine years of effort. They grew a fantastic business and should be proud of their achievements. We look forward to them sharing their knowledge and experience with New Zealand’s budding SaaS businesses and helping ‘NZ Inc’ continue to mature in the space.


The NZ VC Village

Like in a village, Timely’s journey is an outstanding example of people coming together to support one another. In closing, we want to thank some people for making this investment and journey happen. Firstly, to Rowan Simpson and MOD who worked with Ryan, Scoff and Will to set the company up for success. Secondly, the early investors N7, David Wilson, and Punakaiki Fund for providing the initial funding rounds.  We would also like to acknowledge the exec team (Paul Shingles, Colin Rohloff, Jo Blundell) for driving the growth, as well as Deb Farnworth-Wood and Tabatha Coffey as the independent directors who provided a global perspective during turbulent times. Finally, a big thanks to Angus Weir who contributed greatly to Timely’s early years. Love our village!

Kind regards

David Beard and the Movac team