What is your startup and what does it do?
MassageBook was created with the specific purpose of solving the most common problems professional massage therapists experience - both as individual service providers and as small business owners. We have a single purpose in mind - helping massage and bodywork providers and the profession as a whole grow and succeed. We offer powerful yet simple tools to drive new clients to practitioners and allow business owners to manage their practices with a single, seamlessly integrated suite of practice management software tools.
We built MassageBook to streamline and automate many of the activities massage therapists and bodyworkers do to manage and grow their practice. There are specific features that massage professionals need to operate efficiently day to day that were missing in other software applications. MassageBook is unique in the feature set it provides, and in its comprehensive nature. Now a massage practice only needs a single solution to operate and grow their business.
For the massage seeking public, MassageBook also acts as a powerful directory of massage talent. Now those looking for massage services have the ability to find exactly the kind of highly rated and certified bodywork professionals they’re looking for, view their background, their availability and even book appointments online.
At whom is your startup aimed? Professional Massage Therapists and Bodywork Professionals as well as the massage seeking public. How does your startup stand out against its competitors? While competitors have chosen to provide generic scheduling solutions that may be used by a broad assortment of businesses, MassageBook focuses intently on serving only one profession with a focused set of features. The result is a simpler application that is at the same time both more powerful than alternatives and beautifully easy to use. Where did the idea for the startup come from? Prior to MassageBook, I was the CEO and founder of Massage Warehouse, now the largest reseller of massage products for professionals. At that time I realized the core problem behind the failure of so many small massage practices couldn’t be solved by selling them more lotion. They needed help with the business end of things; marketing and promoting themselves as well as managing the day to day scheduling, client management and accounting tasks. I also became personally frustrated with the inability to find good massage professionals that could work on me as I travelled around the country. Local search results brought up an unhelpful combination of poorly designed individual websites and unprofessional massage services offered. As a public seeker of massage services, MassageBook represents the most helpful solution available to find and book massage professionals. Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they? I had no experience with developing software or operating a software development business. I knew there was going to be a steep and painful learning curve. What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups? From my teenage years on, I’ve always had one business or another going. I think its funny that the word “startup” now has a glamorous connotation associated with it. Starting any new venture is exciting, but always brutally difficult. My rush comes from manifesting visions into reality, from building great teams and from helping individuals within the business experience the pleasure that comes from being part of something meaningful that’s bigger than any one person. How did you initially raise funding for your company? My belief in what we’re doing is so strong that I am funding the company myself from the proceeds of the sale of Massage Warehouse, my prior business. What has been your greatest achievement so far? It’s taken time to learn how a software development business should work. I’m glad that I’ve made it through the steepest part of the learning curve, but proudest of pulling a great team together that makes what we do fun and rewarding on a daily basis fro everyone at MassageBook. How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years? Being a relative newcomer, staying relevant hasn’t been as big a challenge as developing the features we already know our customers want and need. We have a very vocal group of customers that make their wishes known through our support desk as well as on our feedback board within the application. How long has your business been in the making, and who is the team behind the business? I first began organizing my vision for MassageBook in 2011. The first two years ended up being a complete bust as I tried to work with an offshore development team. We ended up throwing out our entire code base and having to start over with a local team in January of 2013. MassageBook is independent and has no board or other formal management team. What has been your biggest challenge so far? Patience has never been a virtue of mine. It’s damn difficult when you can see the cure for what ails people so clearly, but realize that it will just take time to spread the word, build out the product, and build a sustainable business to support the product. It’s kind of like coming up with the cure for cancer in your garage and now having to figure out how to package, it promote it, distribute it, sell it, and support it. The idea is the easy part. In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business? Good things are happening. We just entered into an exclusive agreement with the largest massage association in the US to be their preferred software solution for their members and our word of mouth growth in the massage industry has been tremendous. I don’t think growth will be as big a challenge as managing the growth. My wish for this year is that we maintain the great culture we have within our business and manage our growth without risking the great reputation we already enjoy. What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business? It’s always the same for me. You better be really, really in love with what you’re trying to accomplish, because your resolve will be tested mercilessly and repeatedly. No passion = failure. Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be? Planning is overrated. Get started doing something today that will take you closer to realizing your vision. Then stay with it each and every day afterwards. There is great magic to be found in the combination of passion and perseverance.