Shameless plug: Wahanda

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My ex-colleague Salim Mitha moved from Yahoo! Search to setting up Wahanda (click here to check out the site) earlier this year. I was a bit surprised when I first heard about Wahanda, it seemed a long way to go from search engines to a health and beauty experience aggregator, but in reality its more about lateral thinking in the link between the marketplaces.

At the back of search is linking the right information with people, the information can vary in its nature and location but that’s essentially why consumers use it. Wahanda allows consumers to better understand and action overly complex consumer propositions (has anyone tried reading the product list at one of these places?).

Building a brand around a aggregator allows it to become the trusted arbiter of information, if you have a major brand you be concerned at getting mediated out of the equation, a bit like what Google has done with a lot of e-commerce providers – think of the way DSG (Dixons, Currys, The Link etc) are a shadow of their former dominant selves. The flip side of the coin is that everyone wins in a market like this where there are no existing brands of that strength the aggregator makes everyone a potential winner.

Why health and spas?

Here’s some of the facts that Wahanda bandy around:

  • The global spa economy is now worth an estimated USD $60 billion (to put that in perspective according to official bodies, in 2007 the hugely high profile worldwide motion picture box office took $26.7 billion, while the global recorded music market (including digital music) was $29 billion and, unlike the wellness industry, that’s a shrinking market)
  • Europe is the largest regional spa market exceeding $18 billion, with the US as the second largest region at $12 billion
  • There are now more than 71,000 spas worldwide. Day and salon spas represent the majority of the market (63%), hotel spas (16%), medical spas (6%), and destination spas (2.1%)

Their spiel

Wahanda is a health, beauty and wellness community & marketplace that connects consumers, wellness businesses and professionals through content, community ratings & reviews and commerce. The site, which is live now and will be fully transactional in September, is on track to become the leading marketing channel for the wellness industry. With more spas, treatments and practitioners listed than on any other site, Wahanda will bring together transactional abilities (to search, find, book and purchase treatments or vouchers) with a thriving interactive user community of recommendations, reviews, and information.

Go over and help Salim with load testing now, go back post-September to buy a nice experience for the spouse / partner / passing acquiantance / bit on the side.