If you missed last year’s Shark Tank appearance by Urban Float’s cofounders Joe Beaudry and Scott Swerland, chances are you still might not know about float therapy.
“Floating is such a new thing, unless you’ve been to the Dead Sea, you probably aren’t aware of it,” said Gabe Goldberg, Urban Float’s chief marketing officer.
According to Goldberg, the absence of this knowledge “makes the initial introduction to a float spa really important.” This is what drives Urban Float’s unique marketing approach, he said, calling it an “inside-out” program introducing many people to the concept through hosted events.
The idea for a float business happened in 2011, after a colleague left a note on a stress-riddled Beaudry’s desk, inviting him to try out a personal float pod. Beaudry accepted the offer, and after learning what it felt like to float away anxiety, he was hooked.
Beaudry teamed with Swerland, who serves as the company’s CEO, and the two opened the first Urban Float location in 2014, in Seattle’s Fremont district. Urban Float’s company headquarters later was moved to The Landing retail complex in Renton.
“Floating has been around since the 1950s,” Goldberg said. “It’s been clinically studied for years, but it wasn’t until the 2010s that it started to take off in a mainstream way.”
“Manufacturing economics took a while to catch up to interest,” Swerland shared, adding that trends like holistic health, wellness, and clean eating “opened the mainstream up to the natural relaxation and stress relief of floating.”
Urban Float’s business model has evolved with the opening of several new locations; the launch of a U.S. franchise channel; and introduction of retail products a member can purchase to enhance the float experience before, during, and after.
“The expansion was a great opportunity to learn about trends in other markets we wouldn’t have had access to otherwise, and it also gives us a way to test new ideas across the entire county,” said Kendall Ross, Urban Float’s general manager.
Ross indicated the Urban Float brand stands for relaxation with a focus on helping patrons renew, refresh, and revive.
Swerland said the company’s core service always will be flotation therapy. “It is why people love us,” he said.
Enough so that Urban Float’s customer base includes a number of elite athletes who, according to Goldberg, “… already understand the benefits of recovery, being able to focus on a goal, and visualizing success.”
Other people the company hopes to help include those dealing with injuries and health conditions, “and a middle group including more casual athletes, yoga aficionados, and people who meditate,” Goldberg said.
Ross noted the benefits reach beyond muscle relief through complete weightlessness. “We’re able to have really sensitive conversations with people about health, so presenting products to help them doesn’t sound pitchy,” she said.