Indianapolis native brings on-demand massage to your home with "Soothe" app

Soothe offers an array of massage services in your own home.
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If you're someone who likes to treat yourself to a massage after a stressful day, you may also know how difficult it can be to arrange one to fit your busy schedule.

Now, one Indianapolis entrepreneur has an answer for that, and is bringing it back to his hometown.

It's an app called "Soothe" and it allows you to order a massage at your location in about an hour.

It's like the Uber of the massage world. You register, schedule and pay online, and a licensed massage therapist is on the way.

We met with one of the newest employees for Soothe here in Indianapolis. Emilyn Folley carries a large black nylon carry case that comes equipped with all that she needs to provide a massage on location.

Visit the Soothe website

"So what I bring with me is the table itself, and I'll also bring sheets and a blanket and then I also bring my own music. I'll bring a couple different options for lotion or oil, whatever is going to suit the client," she said.

Among the upsides of working for Soothe, Emilyn tells us, "I like being able to set my own schedule. And the compensation is definitely a lot higher than a regular massage therapy job. So it's definitely enticing in that way."

Soothe founder Merlin Kauffman, 30, came back to his hometown of Indianapolis to announce the launch here.

"So back when I was traveling, I basically had a very challenging time finding a massage therapist," he said. "When you have a back pain or an ache, you really want the massage now and very few spas can accommodate that need."

Kauffman says Soothe is now in 22 major U.S. cities, after its launch in Los Angeles in 2013. 

He went to Park Tudor, then later Harvard Business School, and now owns dot-com startups that have drawn tens of millions in venture capital investment.

"It's gone very well," he said, "Everywhere we've gone, we've had more demand from clientele than we've had therapists, so we're actually hiring in all of our markets."

Whether it's through the app or through the website, prices start at $99 for an hour-long massage, on up to $170 for two hours. 

For Emily Folley, the pay is four times what she would usually receive. But does she have any concern about her own personal safety visiting a strange home?

"I don't really have any worries about my own personal safety. We have a great concierge team, so they're able to call us if they feel like there's any sort of issue going on with the massage."

Kauffman told us, "We take safety very seriously. All of our massage therapists are certified, licensed, background-checked and insured. On the client side, we verify the client's identity before the therapist ever goes to the address."

The service is available from 8 a.m. to midnight and you can book a visit with an hour's notice, or weeks in advance.

Kauffman says while he's focused on the massage app now, it's possible there would be expansion into other wellness categories. 

It's the latest in a career that started very early for Kauffman. He began writing computer code for America Online when he was 11 and owned his first business at age 17.