The 22nd of April 2022 marked 20 years of Kitomba. We are so proud to be part of such an incredible industry and to have helped it be more successful for two decades.
So much has changed over the last 20 years, so we want to take you on a trip down memory lane to show you how Kitomba and our software has evolved during this time.
In his bedroom, Tom Murphy, a budding entrepreneur and engineer by training, founded a company called Magic Pulse, which started out providing a text message reminder service. He was joined by a friend and they were living off their savings as well as using them to fund the business.
Back then no-one wanted to know about the startup and then his original business partner made an exit after the financial strain became too difficult.
However Tom kept going and was determined to make Magic Pulse a success.
The bedroom didn’t last long and Tom soon moved to a small office in the Wellington Botanic Gardens. At the same time, Al Quinn, an adventure sports fanatic, ex-cycle courier and talented software maestro, decided to join Tom at Magic Pulse.
Tom and Al quickly saw the need for more than just a text message service and started developing a product they called ‘Kitomba’, a full salon and spa management system.
Kitomba’s first employee skateboarded into the company in 2004 and decided to ‘secretly’ build a game in Kitomba (you can still play the game today).
The company and the team grew, as did our reputation in the industry. Our little office was bursting at the seams and we were out of space for desks, so decided the broom cupboard was the only option! Putting an employee in a cupboard didn’t feel right, so the doors were taken off and it was called an alcove.
There were many fun times in the botanic gardens office and still we grew, this time into a bigger space at the same location. 2006 was also the year Kitomba began to turn a profit and Tom clearly remembers going to the White House (a well known restaurant in Wellington) and drinking expensive red wine to celebrate.
This was the year we were first recognised by Deloitte as the 24th Fastest Growing New Zealand Company, just two places after Trade Me, with revenue growth of about 294%..
By now we serviced many of New Zealand’s salons and spas so we decided it was time to expand internationally. It was an exciting moment when our first UK customer came onboard.
Another big year for us! We continued to grow so moved to a bigger space with a wicked view over Wellington harbour. We also expanded into Australia and were recognised again by Deloitte for our impressive growth.
A milestone year for Kitomba: we hit 1,000 customers across New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
We also did something else pretty cool – although Kitomba, HITO and Hair and Barber NZ (formally known as NZARH) had been recognising hair, beauty and barbering excellence in other forms, 2010 was the first year that the separate awards came together to form The Industry Awards.
10 years on The Industry Awards is New Zealand’s largest celebration of the best in business, training and creative across the hair, beauty and barbering industries. Follow them on Instagram to learn more about this incredible event!
In 2011 our growth continued as our support team expanded to fifteen, we drank our forty-thousandth cup of coffee and launched Kitomba 1 – our cloud based software allowing our customers to access key features from anywhere on any device.
In May we upgraded from a 20sqm room to an open-plan 600sqm office in central Wellington, complete with table tennis, an old-school arcade machine, a ‘proper’ kitchen, floor to ceiling windows and great coffee to keep the creative juices flowing.
In fact we even got a bell which rang every so often and became an integral part of our culture.
Our customers, people, products and growth caught the attention of Jonas Software and in September we decided to join their group. This was great news for everyone as it meant we’d benefit from their experience as we continued to innovate and support our customers under our much loved Kitomba brand.
Kitomba turned 15 and we took the time to reflect on our journey and successes!
In June, Al Quinn was appointed as Kitomba’s new Chief Executive Officer. Al succeeded the founding CEO Tom Murphy. Having previously worked in every area of the Kitomba business, Al started his CEO role with a thorough understanding of our company and a strong appreciation of our customers.
We felt it was about time we documented our values, so we worked together to determine what they were and how we could have those represented throughout our office.
We came up with teamwork, think like a customer, make things happen and our personal favourite – the mullet. You can read more about them here.
Mike Henton was appointed as Kitomba’s new Chief Executive Officer in January 2021. Mike has over 15 years of experience in the software industry, most recently working within the health and leisure sector. Kitomba co-founder Al Quinn left after 17 years at Kitomba, including his last three years as CEO.
We also wanted to share more with our customers about the amazing people behind our company, so we started Humans of Kitomba! We introduce you to someone new every month, just like Tabitha one of our Customer Service Representatives and Rosemary our Partnership / Enterprise Manager – and you can check them all out on our Instagram page.
This year we’re celebrating two decades of Kitomba! We’re a pretty amazing bunch of people who are talented and passionate about what we do, what we’re achieving, the incredible industry we’re part of and the fantastic customers we’re lucky enough to work with. You can learn more about life at Kitomba here.
We’re now looking forward to entering the next decade of Kitomba and we’re excited about what it’s going to bring!
Kitomba’s logo over the years
Kitomba’s software and development evolution
When it came to the evolution of our software, one key component was changing with technology.
Text messaging technology
Kitomba all started because text messaging was trendy and a solution our founders believed many businesses would need to remind their clients of an appointment.
Increasing prevalence of the internet
Benchmark, a much loved feature of Kitomba due to its ability to let you see where you stand compared to your competitors, was a lot of effort over many years. That’s because it was our first online feature which our developers used initially as a training ground as they investigated data warehousing and data transformation, but ultimately led to the creation of a valuable feature.
The increasing prevalence of the internet then drove our decision to develop Online Booking so that clients could quickly and easily book their own appointments online. And the development of Kitomba 1, our cloud solution, was in response to the increasing use of the internet and mobile devices. This has seen us continuously add high demanded, industry specific features to Kitomba 1 like Digital Forms, Time Clock, Repeat Appointments and many more.
The evolution of our software has also been influenced a lot by our development and testing processes.
After about 10 years in the business, we started dabbling with consultants, scrum (an agile development methodology used in the development of software based on iterative and incremental processes) and business analysts. It was an incredibly different way of working and something that didn’t stick immediately. However once it did, and we really began refining our agile processes, we saw the true benefits it can offer and it is now a key factor to our success.
The testing phase of our development process is a critical part of what we do, so for many years now we’ve had a dedicated team of highly skilled testers to ensure we reduce any issues (what we call bugs) being released to customers. However, rewind back to the first years of Kitomba and there were no testers, unit tests or a defined testing methodology. Instead we relied on close contact with customers, a highly skilled, dynamic support team, and close working relationships to work through any issues.