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Wine and Massages: Interviews with Two Amazing Companies at Techweek LA

From its humble beginnings at the inaugural Techweek Chicago conference in late July of 2011, Techweek has grown to prominence as the premier national collection of technology conference & festivals in America. Their celebration has received national recognition as we welcome names like Travis Kalanick, Calvin Harris, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alexis Ohanian, Microsoft, Motorola and more.

After a dynamic Techweek LA, I had the opportunity to interview two new start-ups that have connections with Chicago's start-up community.

The first interview was with Merlin Kauffman, CEO and Founder of Soothe.

App mockup

What is new and innovative about your product?

Soothe is the on-demand app that delivers massage to your door in 1 hour, or you can book in advance. Our product is innovative because it conveniently connects you to a vetted network of high quality, certified massage therapists who have been hand-picked by Soothe.

What made your team decide to launch in Chicago? Are there specific things that you like about the city?

 Chicago is a hustling bustling city with tons of hardworking professionals who can benefit from the convenience of a Soothe massage. I grew up in Indianapolis, and as a kid I would visit Chicago and always made sure to order deep dish pizza. Soothe is like deep dish pizza; it gives you comfort, but without the calories.

How has the success of your app created a new market for massages?

Soothe has brought convenience, safety, time savings, and affordability to the massage market, which has enabled people who otherwise would not get massages to give Soothe a try for the first time, in the comfort of their own home, hotel, or office. Soothe is innovating and expanding the $14B USA massage market – we are the largest mobile massage company in the world.

Is your product slated to launch at the international level?

Yes, Soothe has already launched in Vancouver, Canada and will begin servicing London in December.

My second interview was with Geoffrey McFarlane, COO and Co-Founder of Club W:

What makes the opportunity to get wine delivered inviting?

It's so much more than the delivery. It's the entire experience. With Club W, you get the full story of the wine. You get background on where and why it was produced, how to drink it, and what to pair it with. So while it's convenient to not have to go to the store or worry about picking the right wine, the experience and value are a hundred times better when you're actually connected to the bottle you're drinking.

How is business going so far?

Business has been growing so well. We're excited to be delivering a better wine experience to so many excited customers who see the real value in what we're creating.

 Is there something you see as a niche for the Midwest, specifically Chicago?

Getting wine delivered for $13 a bottle — direct from some of the best winemakers in the country — is special to Chicago. At some point in the future, you might see our wines in many of the top restaurants in the city. We may even open a tasting room!

Are you planning to visit anytime soon? If so, what events in Chicago will you be attending?

I just visited Chicago with our Chief Wine Officer. We dined at Parachute, which was awesome, and we attended the Cubs game. We were bummed to see them lose to the Mets! We stayed at the Chicago Athletic Club, which has to be one of the best hotels in America. Can't wait to get back soon.

- Geoffrey McFarlane, COO and Co-Founder of Club W

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