A new woman owned startup in Chicago is taking on the task of educating women about medical spa treatments and then connecting them to carefully curated providers with discounts. SpaSircle offers women discounts on laser hair removal, Botox, dermal filters, chemical peels and more.
While some may be skeptical of finding information on a discount driven site online, Jessica Wiser the founder of SpaSircle has taken every precaution to make sure that SpaSircle isn’t just offering discounts and information, but that it’s a safe marketplace as well. As Wiser explains later in our interview, her and her physician advisory board make sure that SpaSircle keeps out the “riff raff”.
We caught up with Jessica for a quick startup interview.
Briefly describe SpaSircle
SpaSircle is a website designed to educate women on medical spa treatments, such as Botox, laser hair removal, dermal fillers, and chemical peels, while also providing great discounts on these procedures! Physicians want to be listed on SpaSircle, because it is an exclusive group of physicians that can only be invited to join. We have a board of physicians who have screened all medical spas and physicians in the Chicago area who do these procedures, to make sure that the provider we send our members to is well trained, and will give their patients the very best results. We are the only website with discounted procedures and Chicago’s premiere physicians that people can trust, so we feel we’re poised to take this business from GroupOn and other daily deal sites.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
I am the founder of SpaSircle, but do have some employees that have been crucial to the success of the company. Amy Phillips, in particular, has been head of sales and just like a partner to me.
More after the break
Where are you based?
We are based right here in Chicago. I actually got it off the ground in Evanston while still at Kellogg, but I’m downtown now!
Are the offers for these services local to Chicago right now, is their a nationwide rollout planned? Will it be gradual or all at one time?
We will be rolling out nationwide, but I wanted to start here in Chicago. Professor Mohanbir Sawhney, Professor Rakesh Vohra, and Dr. Peter Geldner are all board members who reside here in Chicago, so getting started near them made sense. I’m sure when you think of Botox and plastic surgery you think LA, since all the celebrities do it, but according to the data I’ve gathered, there are a ton of Chicago women getting these procedures done too – just perhaps with more moderation.
Are you bootstrapping it?
I’ve raised an initial round of funds from friends / family / my network, but I do plan on pitching to another Angel group in the next 6 months or so!
So tell us a bit about how you vet both the offers and the people posting the offers in terms of safety, because we’re not talking about massages.
Absolutely! In fact, when I did my market research at Kellogg, the #1 write-in for the question “What concerns do you have about buying a medical spa treatment online?” was “quality”. There are a ton of daily deals out there, but if you do your research, the person injecting / using the laser on you may not even be a plastic surgeon or dermatologist! In fact, we vetted out countless gynecologists and primary care physicians that decided to just pick up a Botox needle one day! We’ve screened out all unqualified physicians and medical spas, as well as some plastic surgeons and dermatologists who didn’t have enough experience to make the cut.
Beyond that, we also have a rating system for each physician by procedure and user reviews from patients. You can see the way we’ve quantified their level of experience by checking out this link: http://www.spasircle.com/howitworks.aspx#physician
Was it hard to get the physicians on board? Do they have an (financial) interest in the company itself?
No, they do not have a financial interest in the company. I had one physician say, and I quote, “we’d like to keep out the riff-raff”. Good physicians, ones who really know what they’re doing, are really concerned for all their patients – they know how easy it is for a unqualified physician to pick up a Botox needle or a laser and either mess patients up, or give them a less than fantastic result. The high quality physicians we have on our site are excited to see this business thrive, as are we!
What is one lesson you’ve learned while building spasircle?
Well, I guess one good thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that if you’re going to bring people on board, only bring people on board who really care about the success of the company. And when you find those great employees, don’t let them go!
Have you faced any challenges in building a startup because you are a woman? Can you share any advice for women entrepreneurs and founders?
I would say that we’re getting to a point where our generation doesn’t have the kind of challenges that the previous generation did – so having to be a “B*&%$” to be taken seriously is kind of over. Just keep your confidence up – if you really believe in your idea, stay organized, put in the work, and constantly work to improve, that trumps all else.
What’s it been like building a startup in Chicago?
It’s a little tougher than being on the west coast in terms of funding – there just isn’t as much around here. But people like Troy Henikoff and Mohanbir Sawhney have made great strides in getting Chicago to have more of an entrepreneurial scene, so I expect it to grow.
FUN QUESTION: What service are you using from SpaSircle, or do you plan on using?
You just had to ask :) Fun aside before I answer, I did a survey at Kellogg and 45% of women had gotten at least one minimally invasive procedure. I have had: Laser hair removal, teeth whitening, photo facial, and a fraxel treatment (it smoothes and brightens the skin on your face). I imagine in a few years I’ll try out Botox too – by purchasing from SpaSircle of course :)
Check out SpaSircle here at spasircle.com
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