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 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.


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