Entrepreneur Of The Week – USPAAH
Tell us about you and your business?
Up until the end of last year I was your typical city professional…never having the time for anything! I’m an ex-investment banker, turned entrepreneur and I created USPAAH to make the lives of busy people in London a little bit…well…a lot, easier. USPAAH let’s clients request certified and vetted health and beauty professionals, in real time.
How did the idea come to you?
For years I was frustrated with not being able to get basic maintenance treatments such as manicures or massages last minute, which is when I needed them the most. So, inspired by Uber, a year ago I decided to start a service that will change how busy people feel about being able to take care of themselves.
What were you doing before starting?
I was an investment banker for almost 10 years, working for large international banks and smaller brokers both here in London, and in the US.
Have you always wanted to be a budding entrepreneur?
I believe I had the entrepreneurial “gene” from when I was very young, but never explored it, until the idea for USPAAH gripped me entirely last year.
What is your business model?
We operate a very simple commission based model, while giving 75% of every treatment performed to our professionals. This makes us not just the only high end, on demand spa service, but a socially conscious organization too. Most people do not realize that professionals in this industry are highly exploited and I felt that rectifying this was not only important in terms of fairness but would also help me to attract the level of quality I wanted for my business.
What are your main revenue streams?
At the moment, we offer 5 types of massages as well as nail services (including gel), and hair blow dries, all with carefully selected premium products.
What makes you different from your competitors?
USPAAH connects clients with a professional in REAL time, thus making it the only pure on-demand app in our industry. Competitor apps still require you to choose from future appointments. Furthermore, unlike other companies that allow their freelancers to use any product, USPAAH mandates the use of specific high end, professional grade products such as Jessica for Nails, AromaWorks for Massage and Oribe for Hair. With us, our clients are always guaranteed a premium experience.
How did you know there was a market for your business?
I researched the beauty industry which is worth £6.3bn in the UK alone and realized that regardless of it’s worth, suppliers are still hugely behind the curve in terms of providing the right channels to match rapidly evolving consumer behaviors. We’re accustomed to having things done/delivered/fixed within one hour. I shudder to think of a world where we can do things in one minute! The world of beauty is still years behind in terms of innovation and the adoption of the “on-demand” culture. I also spoke to my network of friends and colleagues that all felt a service like this could really make life easier.
How did you raise the funds for the business?
So far, my husband and I have funded the business ourselves, but we are opening the company to Angel investors and will look to raise some external funds in the next few months.
What challenges have you faced since starting?
There have been anticipated and unprecedented challenges every step of the way. From finding the right software developers, to assembling a team with varied skills, to getting customers and investors on board. Personally my biggest challenge has been managing my own expectations and teaching myself that sometimes it’s important to ensure that you try to switch off. As all entrepreneurs know, having your own business is a 24 hour job and is all consuming. A year ago, when I registered the company, I certainly didn’t plan on having to stay up at till 2 am answering emails to towel suppliers! I’ve had to learn to switch off at times (not often at the moment!) and also learn that not everything will happen as quickly as I’d like.
What has been your biggest breakthrough yet?
Every time we get an amazing review from our clients, is a mini breakthrough for me! It means we have built a service that people love and will use over and over again.
Have you won any awards?
Not yet, but give us a minute. We have only been live for 8 weeks.
Do you think there is enough education about entrepreneurship in today’s education system?
There is never enough education about entrepreneurship. Even with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in finance, I still had to go to various courses over the last 8 months to learn the basics of building an app, user experience principles, important marketing strategies etc.
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
I hope to make USPAAH the number one on-demand spa service in London as well as the number one company health and beauty professionals join…perhaps even to make all other such apps obsolete! 😉
And finally, what piece of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
You have to arm yourself with a lot of patience, an unwavering spirit and a hunger to constantly improve, constantly challenge yourself in order to make your client’s experience better and better. Most importantly though, do plenty of research and if possible test-run your idea/business, before you quit your day job!
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