The Future of On-Demand Wellness: A Chat with Cheddar TV

Zeel CEO Samer Hamadeh chats with Cheddar TV in the Flatiron Building

On-demand wellness subscriptions are all the rage lately. With Blue Apron’s recent IPO, and Peloton’s increasingly popular in-home fitness membership, having a healthy lifestyle delivered to your door is easier than ever.

Zeel CEO Samer Hamadeh recently paid a visit to the folks at Cheddar TV — a streaming financial news channel founded by former BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg — in their studio at the base of the Flatiron Building. They discussed the future of on-demand wellness, what’s happening in the massage industry, and the latest news about Zeel’s growth and offerings.

 

 

On Zeel’s growth

“We just launched our 67th city — in Sacramento, California — so we now service over 50% of the US population,” Samer shares.

Other hotspots in which Zeel Massage On Demand has become a staple include:

  • New York City (all 5 boroughs plus NJ and CT)
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Southern California (including San Diego, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs)
  • Chicago
  • Washington, D.C.

“We also have an on-demand wellness subscription called Massage Zeelot, which we’re now offering in all of those cities. People can get a massage every month (or more) at a discounted price. It reminds you to take care of yourself.”

On the wellness subscription space

Zeel’s monthly membership started out of a growing demand for in-home massages on a more regular basis, with the same convenience of the Zeel mobile app, and none of the hassle of commuting to a spa or franchise.

Samer points out that there are a lot of players now getting into the on-demand wellness subscription business, but that “it’s very early days” still.

“I don’t subscribe to the theory that Blue Apron isn’t doing a good job,” says Samer. “They went public first, they have the leadership position and they stand for the meal kit market. But they’re tapping into the same zeitgeist that we’re tapping into at Zeel, which is: you want to take care of yourself, you want to be reminded to do it, and you want to do it in the convenience and privacy of your own home. And a subscription program like Zeelot, or Blue Apron, or Peloton, reminds you to do that — and allows you to save money.”

“[Blue Apron is] ultimately going to do very well, in my opinion.”

On app security for both customers and massage therapists

For the customer: Zeel’s 9,000 massage therapists are “very well-vetted,” Samer explains. “You have to apply on Zeel, and you have to have a license in your state. This is a very highly-regulated industry — every Zeel Massage Therapist has at least a million dollars of liability insurance. And you have to do an extensive interview and training session with us. Ultimately, we only accept about 45% of those who apply.”

For the therapist: “We have a two-way security protocol, because our therapists obviously also care about safety…  And that puts the therapists at ease.”

“85% of massage therapists in America are female, and we want to make sure that they are protected as well. So this two-way system is really the bomb.”

On Zeel’s spa staffing platform

Samer shares that the recently-announced Zeel Spa, which helps spas fulfill last-minute bookings and staff outages, “just contracted with our 200th spa partner for the service.”

Cheddar anchor Alyssa Julya Smith asks whether Zeel Spa is creating competition among the spa industry. Samer debunks this myth: “Based on the data, most in-home massages occur in the evening. Almost 70% of our massages occur after 5pm — when spas are closed, or when most are already booked.”

Meanwhile, “most spa appointments are taking place during the day. Primarily Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. So when our therapists want to work, we can send them to spas when they’re not busy with the home jobs. And in the evenings, they can do the home jobs.”

On getting a massage before bed

Samer also notes, “22% of our orders occur after 9pm. This is great for millennials who are waking up to health and wellness and the idea of taking care of themselves. You de-stress, you relax, you manage your pain from workouts and sitting in an office all day — by getting a massage in the evening before you go to bed.”

“We recently partnered with Ariana Huffington and her company Thrive Global on a Sleep Massage that we’re offering around the country, with a whole set of sleep protocols that Arianna and her team developed with us. It’s really fantastic.”

 

Related: Zeel Ranks 167 on the Inc. 500 List of Fastest Growing Companies 

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