USPAAH: Iglika Ghouse
The on-demand app's founder tells us why the right investor contributes more than just money and how their business model is scalable
Name: Iglika Ghouse
Company name: USPAAH
Date launched: 03/07/2015
Tell us what your business does:
the business idea was born to cater to those with hectic lives and refined lifestyles, but more importantly it aims to fundamentally change the way busy people take care of themselves. Similar to Uber, we’re an on-demand service, allowing clients to request professionals in real time.
We cover simple, maintenance treatments that can be done at home: nails, massage, and hair.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
After years of being frustrated with traditional salons and spas, we decided to turn the industry on its head.
How did you know there was a market for it?
So many professionals have a busy work and personal lives and therefore find it hard to get simple treatments done., even though they often need them. People needed a service that fitted their week and start-up does this. We connect customers with a qualified therapist within their area, who will be with you within the hour. They will bring the massage table, oils and towels, so all you need to do is sit back and relax.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was working as an investment banker. The rest of the founding team is made up of Viktoria Naumenko (head of marketing), who worked in project management and brand development, and our tech team (6 individuals split between London and Romania), who all worked app and mobile technology development.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Not really, but after coming up with the idea I became obsessed with making it a reality.
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How did you raise the money?
So far, we’ve managed to build the working app and recruit over 120 professionals by bootstrapping it ourselves, however we are looking for a strategic investment partner to come on-board, with somewhere between £250,000 to £350,000, and somebody who can bring added value onto the table, who will be part of the team and be a true contributor to the growth of the company.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
It’s a simple commission based model so we retain a 25% commission from the value of the service. Once we have the basics in place, the model is completely scalable.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Our service is truly pure on-demand; when you request for a Sparista, one of our professionals will be with you within an hour. Our products are better, our professionals are more carefully selected and checked and the ease of the user experience is quite superior. But this is hard to get right so a lot of planning and development has had to be done.
What was your first big breakthrough?
One of the things that we pride ourselves in is that we pay our employees what they truly deserve. Other spas and other agencies pay as little as 30% of the value of the service, so for example, if you went to a regular salon and pay £30 for a manicure, your therapist will more than likely get £5 for that work, which I think is daylight robbery and plain exploitation.
We offer our therapists 75% of the value of the service, so we are truly trying to make a difference in their lives.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Be determined and just go for it.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time
We hope that USPAAH will become an internal part of busy clients’ life internationally and our platform will improve the standard of living for the beauticians who use it.