Challenger brand

Urban Massage: Britain’s Uber for massages now worth £8m

By Alex Wood 3 June 2015
Summary

Urban Massage delivers relaxation to your door. With the market booming, it looks like they are onto a winner.

Airbnb opened spare rooms to millions of guests through an app. Uber did the same for cabbies looking to make a little extra money. And now the world of massage and beauty therapy is the latest industry to be brought into the mobile era.

Urban Massage’s mobile app and website launched in October 2014 with a mission to shake up the market in this multimillion pound industry.

The online beauty treatment sector is already heating up. Recently bookings website Wahanda turned over £40m and has consistently achieved 200% growth year after year.

Urban Massage’s concept is simple.  In a couple of taps customers can book a therapist for a treatment at their home or office at a competitive price.

The company claims its therapists earn up to 300% more than working at traditional spas, which take rental charges from each booking, reducing their take home pay.

The strategy is already paying off as this fast-growing business has raised another round of funding, valuing it at £8m ($12m). Backers include London-based Passion Capital, who also recently raised finance for their second fund.

After a successful period in London and Bristol, Jack Tang, Urban Founder’s CEO, says they will use the funding to start a nationwide roll out.

Urban Massage review

Ahead of the funding news The Memo tried out the Urban Massage service.

The app delivered on its promises. In just 6 taps you are able to select your treatment, choose a therapist, timeslot and confirm your booking.

Services on offer include calming, energising, anti-cellulite, thai yoga, reflexology, thai massage, blow dries and makeup.

Users of Uber’s mobile app will find Urban Massage’s clean interface familiar and easy to navigate.

After months of a punishing gym regime with Joe Wickes (aka the Body Coach), I plumped for a much need sports massage.

Attila, my therapist for the night, arrived at my door ten minutes before the start of my session with a slick portable massage table on wheels. Later he explained to me he travels across London with the 14kg table in tow on buses and on the underground.

At first I found socially awkward to welcome a stranger into my home, but the feeling quickly subsided and within minutes Attila had turned my living room into a temporary sanctuary of relaxation.

The treatment lasted 65 minutes and was easily one of the best sports massages I’ve had. It turns out 6 months of high intensity sprints had taken their toll on my weary muscles and with his ten years of experience, Attila was careful not to cross the ever important line between good and bad pain.

The sharing economy benefits both workers and customers

So what’s in it for the workers who sign up to a service like this? Urban Massage operates in the so-called Sharing Economy, which includes household names like Uber and Taskrabbit where consumers share services and workers gain access to more customers.

Attila’s story is typical for people working in this growing new sector of the economy. He explained to me he runs his own studio in North London and uses Urban Massage as a new way to earn more from his free time.

He sends the extra money back home to his parents in Hungary and puts a little aside for a degree in physiotherapy, which he hopes to study for in London.

He’s emphatically positive about working for Urban Massage. Without it he says he might not make ends meet and plan for the future.

Urban Massage is a homegrown success story that is quietly shaking up a market that badly needed change.

Is this new service that brings you expert treatment to your door a taste of the future? We certainly hope so.