It’s becoming a lot easier to get a professional massage in Los Angeles.
Two smartphone app makers are competing to offer Angelenos in-home professional massages from licensed therapists in as little as an hour.
Soothe, a Beverly Hills company founded by 29-year-old Internet entrepreneur Merlin Kauffman, has already garnered thousands of users in the L.A. area since launching last year. Customers can choose from more than 300 local therapists, who can be rated following the massage.
A 60-minute massage will run you $99, with tip included in the price. A 90-minute session goes for $139, while a two-hour massage costs $169. Kauffman said therapists keep 75 percent of the fee.
Right now, Swedish, deep-tissue, sports or couples massages can be ordered using an iPhone app, but an Android version is coming soon, Kauffman said. Bookings can also be made on the Soothe website or over the phone. The company plans to expand its service to Orange County, and Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., on Oct. 1.
Kauffman said Soothe’s revenue has been growing at a 38 percent month-over-month rate, thanks in large part to word of mouth. The company also offers a referral discount, where each party gets $20 off a massage.
“We have a very strong and loyal user base that shares with their friends,” he said.
Rival service Zeel, headquartered in New York and founded by former Vault.com Chief Executive Samer Hamadeh, expanded its service to Los Angeles in July.
A 60-minute massage with a Zeel therapist goes for about $116, which includes an 18 percent tip. Longer massages also cost a bit more than with Soothe. Zeel does have a $99 monthly membership program in which customers receive a professional-grade massage table shipped to their home to keep forever and credit for one 60-minute massage a month that rolls over if not used.
Kauffman, who also founded CoinSeed, a $7.5 million Bitcoin investment fund in Las Vegas, said he plans to move Soothe’s headquarters to Santa Monica in the near future.
“We want to be in the mix,” he explained.
Crowdsourcing Business Travel
Santa Monica’s JetLux Inc. operates a website that’s putting a twist on the concept of crowdfunding to help small businesses secure lower rates at hotels for traveling employees.
While a 10-person company might not have the leverage to secure the same discounted hotel rates enjoyed by major corporations, a group of small businesses booking together can work together to save money.
That’s where JetLux comes in. Steve Aylsworth, its chief executive, said the company grew out of his other venture, Jet Luxury Resorts, which manages and rents out condos and residences in luxury hotels.
“From that initial experience, we saw that 80 percent of our travel was small business related,” he said.
Today, more than 5,500 companies have an account with JetLux. Once a customer identifies the dates of travel, location and price range, JetLux finds a hotel that fits its needs. Aylsworth said their customers typically save between $200 and $1,500 on each reservation through JetLux compared with booking with a hotel directly.
“We’ve saved as much as $7,000 on a reservation,” he claimed.
The company works with more than 80 hotels nationwide and recently expanded to Canada. It is in the process of partnering with hotels in Europe, South America and Asia, Aylsworth said.
The percentage of each booking JetLux takes varies depending on the hotel, volume and type of room. After launching the company with a friends and family round, Aylsworth said JetLux is looking to raise more money as the 12-employee business scales and moves into the black.
“We’re coming off two consecutive profitable quarters this year,” he said. “We believe we’ll be profitable this year.”
Sherman Oaks video services provider Vubiquity has named a new team of senior executives as it looks to expand globally. Longtime employee Pete Bryant has been promoted to executive vice president of corporate development and strategic business development. Meanwhile, Gabriel Berger has been hired as senior vice president of business development. … Former CD Baby President Brian Felsen has joined L.A. YouTube music monetization service AdRev as president. … Los Angeles Venture Association board members Alan Spatz, Chris Krogh and Shuki Lehavi have been elected president, treasurer and secretary, respectively, of the group. … Culver City multichannel network Collective Digital Studio has hired former CNN national sales executive Scott Weller as chief revenue officer. … Ladera Heights digital publisher Evolve Media has hired Betsy Novak as vice president of sales for the western region. She joins the company from Angry Birds game developer Rovio Entertainment.
Staff reporter Omar Shamout can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 549-5225, ext. 263.
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