Los Angeles is a stressful place. Heavy traffic is unavoidable, costs of living are high, and the air quality is abysmal.
After dropping the kids off at school, driving to and from work, running errands and maybe rushing to the gym, many people don’t exactly feel like getting back into their cars in search of relaxation.
Thanks to one young entrepreneur, Angelenos no longer have to. Merlin Kauffman, a 29-year-old resident of the Hollywood Hills, has created Soothe, an app and massage-on-demand service that allows locals to wind down from a busy day in the comfort of their homes.
“We have entered the era of on-demand,” he told the Journal. “Uber [an app that connects riders with drivers] really helped propel this movement of instant gratification delivered through an app, and Soothe is the answer to massage and relaxation. … Angelenos spend too much time in traffic, and Soothe keeps them out of their cars, and at home, where they can truly relax and rejuvenate.”
For a flat rate of $99 for 60 minutes, a Soothe user can request that a massage therapist come to his or her home in as little as one hour after booking. A variety of massages are available — Swedish, sports, couples and deep tissue — and gratuity is included in the rate. Massages are available for 60, 90 or 120 minutes, with a different rate for each.
People can put in their request through the app, on Soothe.com or by calling a toll-free number, (800) 960-7668, seven days a week from 9 a.m. to midnight.
Users can choose whether they want their massage therapist to be male or female. There are more than 300 available, and all of them are fully licensed, insured and able to travel anywhere in Los Angeles County.
“Clients love the convenience of being able to relax in their homes, not drive anywhere, and receive a world-class massage in as little as one hour after they book,” Kauffman said. (And massages don’t have to be restricted to your home; they can be ordered at work, too.)
Cameron McLain, co-founder of the
EndorphMe app, a social and professional network for health and wellness, has utilized the on-demand massage service at his home in West Hollywood.
“Soothe is really beneficial for both the [massage therapists] and the clients alike because of the flexibility of on-demand and the lack of overhead in the business,” he said. “It’s a novel idea and a really fantastic experience.”
Kauffman founded Soothe in 2012, while he was enrolled in Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program. One night, around 7 p.m., he wanted to get a massage but couldn’t find a brick-and-mortar business that was open. It suddenly occurred to him that other people probably have had the same experience. From there, the business was born.
Currently, the service has more than 10,000 users, according to Kauffman. It’s set to expand to Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area, Miami and Phoenix. Over the next year, it will be launched in a total of 10 major cities, he said.
Soothe isn’t the first company Kauffman has started. He’s been an entrepreneur since his high school years, when he founded eWireless.com, a wireless Internet business. He sold it to his partner and then established True Magic, a company that has acquired more than 55,000 domain names, as well as CoinSeed, a Bitcoin mining investment fund.
In his first year of college at Temple University, Kauffman discovered that he’d rather work than go to school.
“I love education and philosophy, but I’ve always been more of a doer,” he said. “The final straw for me was realizing I had lost a six-figure-profit deal, because my time that day had been occupied by attending a class. I dropped out right then and there, and I never looked back.”
While growing up in his hometown, Indianapolis, Kauffman looked up to his parents, who were both self-starters themselves. He said his dad opened the first Mexican restaurant in Indiana in the 1970s and day traded stocks. His mom, an independent intuitive counselor, ran her practice out of the house. Kauffman said that entrepreneurship “is deeply engrained in me, and has always been a passion for both of my parents.
“Being an entrepreneur is in my DNA,” he said. “I have never been able to imagine myself working for anybody else because I have always been more focused on envisioning the innovation I would like to create for the world.”