As the entire world moves on-demand, it’s not a huge surprise that professional services like massage will soon become part of that trend. And so just as people are ordering groceries, cleaners and laundry delivery from their mobile phones, Soothe provides a way for them to book same-day appointments with massage therapists who come to them.
For customers, Soothe offers the kind of convenience you might expect from an on-demand massage startup, at a price that is comparable to most in-spa massages. When a massage is requested through the mobile app or website, Soothe works to send the nearest professional with the highest rating.
Customers can choose between male or female massage therapists and also from different variations of massage. They can choose Swedish, deep tissue, or even couples massage. A one-hour massage costs $99, a 90-minute massage costs $139, and a two-hour massage costs $169. Soothe massage therapists bring their own equipment to a customer’s home and perform the massage onsite, so users don’t have to go anywhere once they’ve booked something.
Just like most other on-demand services, Soothe helps to connect massage therapists with new clients that they wouldn’t otherwise have reached. And it takes a much smaller cut of the transaction than traditional salons, giving its massage pros healthier margins than they would receive otherwise.
It would be easy to call this “Uber for massage” — and indeed I do! — but founder Merlin Kauffman bristles at the description. He argues that Uber is providing a commoditized logistical service, while its continued business is dependent on the quality of massage that Soothe’s pros provide.
To ensure quality, Soothe checks all massage therapists to ensure they have the necessary certifications and credentials, and a few lucky people get to vet them based on quality. It also has liaisons in every market in which it operates to find new service providers.
Today the company has more than 1,000 massage therapists throughout six cities in he U.S., including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Austin, Phoenix, and Miami. But pretty soon it’ll be expanding into new cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, D.C.
Soothe was founded in May 2013 and was self-funded for about 13 months, with revenue growing about 20 percent month-over-month. Last September the company began fundraising and had its seed round led by Gil Penchina’s AngelList syndicate.
Altogether, the company raised $1.7 million from the syndicate and other investors that include IDG Ventures and Walter Loewenstern, as well as angel investors Scott & Cyan Bannister, Tasty Labs founder Joshua Schachter, Dogvacay’s Aaron Hirschhorn, Xobni founder Jeff Bonforte, and HomeDepot CTO Aaron Lee. The company is advised by Scopely founder Eytan Elbaz.
Of course, Soothe isn’t alone in trying to provide massages on-demand. Companies like Zeel and Unwind Me are seeking to do the same thing. For Soothe, though, the company sees a bigger opportunity by moving into complementary professional services. Once it’s built out the logistics platform around massages, Kauffman believes there are many other categories it would be able to serve.