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  • Community
  • Urban CEO Jack Tang On What It Takes To Grow A Modern Wellness Brand

    30th November 2020

    30th November 2020

    By Caitlin Bell

    In 2014, Jack Tang and Giles Williams founded Urban with the intention of starting a massage-at-home service. However, what started as a way to book wellness online become much more. We recently spoke to Jack to find out about Urban's journey over the past few years, how they've dealt with lockdown, and how he ensures he take care of his own personal health and wellness.

    Hi Jack! So what inspired you to launch Urban?

    In 2014, my business partner and I saw how unfairly wellness professionals were treated in the industry. They would often be working in salons and taking home as little as 20% of the service price. We saw this as an opportunity to disrupt a growing industry and not only offer a fairer share of the economics for the professionals, but also provide customers with on-demand wellness at their fingertips. This is something that I believe is now more important than ever.


    Why is wellness and taking care of ourselves so important in this modern day and age?

    Wellness is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking time to care for ourselves helps with all elements of mental wellbeing, from coping with stress, to dealing with turbulent situations, and generally living healthier and happier lives. 

    More broadly, we’re all living much faster-paced, busier lives, which makes self-care and taking time out of our day to focus on our own wellbeing increasingly more important.

    What makes Urban stand out in a market that’s becoming increasingly more saturated?

    We’re constantly innovating and solving the broken experiences within the industry in order to place our customers (both end users and practitioner partners) at the heart of everything we do. We invest heavily in tech to ensure we offer the best in class experience. We recruit great people who are deeply passionate about this industry and we have nurtured a strong community of partner professionals to offer their services on the Urban platform.


    Can you explain how technology has played a key role in Urban’s development?

    Technology is at the core of our business. It is the underlying platform that hosts all of our partner-practitioners’ businesses and is where customers can discover and book them. We use technology to solve complex problems and make mobile businesses far more efficient (for example, routing and shortening travel time between appointments, diary management, payments, reviews and rating), while at the same time giving our customers access to on-demand wellness at a moment's notice. We offer and will continue to offer a wide suite of tools for partners to run their businesses more effectively.

    Urban was founded on the principle of having therapists come to wherever the customer is. How was this affected by lockdown and how did Urban overcome the obstacles presented by this time? 

    Lockdown has not only directly affected our business, but it has also prevented our partner-practitioners from going about their own daily business and earning an income. At the start of lockdown, the team worked tirelessly to launch a digital pop up consisting of private one-to-one video sessions that allowed us to continue to provide an income to our practitioner community, as well as staying connected to our customers and enabling them to stay well during lockdown.

    View this post on Instagram

    Natural, authentic and strong: three words Urban pro Mal B uses to describe her style of Thai massage, which she mastered in the Chiang Mai countryside. Now based in South London, we caught up with her between bookings...⁣ ______⁣ ⁣ ⁣ 1. How are you finding life back on the road?⁣ ⁣ Luckily I've had a lot of bookings which has helped me back on my feet – people need to de-stress in these difficult times. Everyone has been very understanding of the new safety guidelines and still rate my massages very highly.⁣ ⁣ 2. Is there anything you wish more people knew about Thai massage?⁣ ⁣ A lot of people tend to associate it with stretching, probably due to how it has been presented in western media. My style uses acupressure techniques along the main energy "sen" lines of the body.⁣ ⁣ 3. What's your number one aftercare tip?⁣ ⁣ Upping your magnesium intake. Whether that’s a bath with lots of Epsom salts or a magnesium supplement, it's the quickest way to relieve tightness in the muscles!⁣ ⁣ 4. How have you been keeping well? Any new self-care routines?⁣ ⁣ It’s been really important for me to keep active. I've started working on my cardio and strength training up to three times a week. As a massage therapist I need to take care of my own body so I can deliver the best treatment everytime.⁣ ____⁣ ⁣ Find Mal on Urban 👉 urban.co/p/mal⁣ ____⁣ ⁣ 📸 by @gregorydewode 😷 Please note that all Urban pros now wear masks as well as visors.

    A post shared by Urban App (@urbanapp) on


    We’ve also partnered with Collective Benefits to provide mental health support to our partner-practitioners during this time, giving them access to mental health practitioners for live support. Additionally, we’re also working with the financial services company Steady Pay to offer our partners a stream of advanced revenues using their historical trading history on the Urban platform. This is money which is to be paid back when they're able to resume their activities at a later date.

    How do you ensure that you take care of and prioritise your own personal wellness, mentally and physically?

    At the core of my own wellness regime is regular eight hours of sleep - I think this is really important and underestimated by a lot of people in business. I also make sure to put away my phone and enjoy quality time with my family and friends as much as possible, be it while at dinner or simply doing the cooking and washing up in the evening.


    Also, I have routine treatments help me to manage stress and anxiety. I make sure to have them regularly each month and find that they’re the perfect way to restart my body and mind.

    What’s been the most rewarding part of growing Urban? 

    It definitely has to be seeing the impact that we've had on both our customers' and partner-practitioners' lives. It has been transformative for the financial wellbeing of our partners, and has empowered our customers to look after themselves in a way that fits around their busy schedules.

    To learn more about Urban, you can find them here. For an exclusive 20% off Urban's services, use code INNERMOST20. 

    Other Insights

    Growth And Goals With Innermost Insider Amy Costello
    Hi Amy! Can you tell us a bit about how you got into your fitness journey? Hey my Innermost faves! I was always involved in sports at school and loved running, but it was on my travels to Sydney, Australia, that my passion for fitness as a real, positive, daily part of my life, kicked off. I love the lifestyle in Sydney. Everyone is really invested in their health and fitness and that fuelled me to get my Personal Training qualification and start going to the gym (I’d never stepped foot in a gym before this!), where I learnt absolutely everything I could about functional and resistance training. I read books, I watched technique videos, and I put all of it into practice in my own training and programming. But this was just the beginning! How did your passion for fitness begin to translate into your full-time job? Whilst living in Australia, I met Mike, who is now my fiancé (woo) and my business partner in the fitness empire we are building!  It actually started when my Aussie visa was due to expire, and we were game-planning ways that we could stay together and avoid doing the long-distance relationship thing. At the time I was coaching at an F45 studio in Sydney, and after a bit of research, we realised there was only one F45 studio in London - so Mike got thinking - why don’t we see if we can open one!  It then all happened very fast - within a couple of months we had signed with F45 to open our own studio, had packed our bags and were moving to London. 4.5 years later and we've built an incredible member base and community at F45 Tottenham Court Road, and also launched our own fitness retreat company, Salt Escapes, where we run fitness holidays at various beautiful destinations around the world!  View this post on Instagram A post shared by AMY COSTELLO (@amykcostello) What was more challenging, opening your F45 Studio or launching Salt Escapes?  I would have to say F45. It was our first business so there was a lot to learn and a lot to prove. 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If it’s a training plateau, maybe try hitting the gym with a friend, trying out a different class, or getting a PT for a few sessions to give you some fresh ideas and perspective.  What aspect of your life do you struggle to develop most?  For me, it’s definitely finding balance. Running two businesses doesn’t usually allow for much down time, especially as I work with my fiancé, which means that we’re always either at work or talking about work. I really love working for myself, but it’s definitely had a big effect on my social life. Any 'time off' I do get, I usually feel like I just want to chill out alone. I definitely find it a struggle to maintain or build more meaningful friendships these days. Don’t get me wrong - I have a whole heap of wonderful people in my life - I’m just not that hot on messaging back or letting my hair down and going for a night out these days.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by AMY COSTELLO (@amykcostello) Do you set yourself goals? How do you make sure you achieve them? All the time! But I read a great book recently, Atomic Habits by James Clear, which taught me about the importance of goals that are specific and actionable. He says goals are good for setting direction, but systems are best for making progress. I can resonate with this from my own experiences, and from watching so many clients set themselves goals, and then feel like they’ve ‘failed' because they’ve been so focused on the end goal, as opposed to making small, actionable, daily changes to get them there.  So for example, a small goal of mine at the moment is to drink more water as I’m generally pretty bad at this. I’m making this a habit by setting out my bottle of water before I go to bed each night, so I see it first thing in the morning. I tell myself I can’t leave the house for work until I’ve had 600ml water. I also use a water tracker app, which sends me little push notifications throughout the day. System in place, and so far it’s working and I feel great!  What is your greatest life accomplishment? It’s got to be building Salt Escapes. Mike and I have been on the same page since we met. We wanted to create a life where we could work for ourselves and travel the world. We’ve achieved that with Salt Escapes, and there’s a lot more to come!  On top of that, I don’t think there’s any greater feeling than being in a beautiful part of the world, with a bunch of amazing people who have just had the week of their lives, and have been inspired beyond measure, and realising that you made that happen.  What’s one goal you’re going for now? Work goal: Building my businesses back up in a post-pandemic world. We’ve got 9 Salt Escapes trips on the schedule for this year and I’m going to do everything in my power to make them all happen. I just need Boris to play ball!  Personal goal: Mike and I want to buy our first house by the beach. It’s definitely a longer term goal, but everything in our foreseeable future is now driven by this end goal. We’re focused on a future of beach walks, BBQs and puppies!  What are the benefits of having a growth mindset? The opportunities! Personally, I didn’t do too well at school. I didn’t get the point of learning for the sake of learning. But I’m pretty proud of the fact that through hard work, applied knowledge and a lot of determination as an adult. I now own two businesses, work for myself and get to travel the world.  Natural talent or academic intelligence is one thing, but a growth mindset allows you to experience success, build resilience and overcome challenges, all through a simple shift in your perspective.  To keep up with Amy, follow her on Instagram and on Salt Escapes.  Read more
    Editorial of Neev Spencer looking to the side
    Innermost Insider, Neev Spencer, is probably best known for her positions as a television and radio broadcaster, having found success in her multiple broadcast roles, including her notable award-winning shows on popular UK radio station KISS FM. Having spent years of her career supporting industry-giants on tour, hosting for some of the world’s biggest brands and being the face of some of the UK’s favourite TV programmes, Spencer is also known for making waves with her advocacy for mental health, particularly following her own experiences with postpartum depression since becoming a first-time mum. The subject of mental health is one that Spencer is hugely passionate about, combining her wealth of industry experience with the topic to interview A-List celebrities such as Ed Sheeran on the topic live on air. Having been inspired by her incredible work and dedication to raising awareness surrounding mental health, we sat down with Neev to discuss the reasons behind her passions, her incredible fitness and mental health journey, and all things optimism. Hi Neev! Can you tell us a bit about how you got into your fitness journey? I would describe myself as a yo-yo dieter. My whole life I was never very happy with my weight but never quite took it seriously enough – I would go through phases of trying this and trying that. I would say that it became a very important thing to me when I was pregnant, this is when it became a priority in my life. I wanted to do a lot of pregnancy yoga and wanted to be the fittest I could ever be or have ever been ahead of the birth. A couple of months after my first baby was born, I found out I had an undiagnosed slipped disk in my back – not the kind of surprise that you want when you’ve got a tiny baby to look after. It was horrific. 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These range hugely – from domestic abuse, to personal struggles: I lost my best friend to drugs and alcohol when I was in my 20s, I suffered depression in my teenage years, and again, as a first-time Mother, when I was separated from my little one, this took a huge toll on my mental health. I’ve found that being honest and sharing how I got through those moments is what drives me to help other people, and that’s why I make it my mission to do as much mental health work as possible. Do you think ‘optimism’ is something that we can learn? Absolutely. It’s something that we have within us naturally – children are very optimistic, they are innocent and joyful. Life really wears us down – experiences, loss, trauma and grief, all of that plays a part in where we begin to lose that optimism. For me, optimism really is faith. I am Sikh, but this faith doesn’t necessarily have to be in God, if you’re not religious. It’s a faith in the greater good. Faith in humanity – that something good is out there. It is the most important thing you can have as a human. What are your top three life tips for staying optimistic? I think the place we are in as a society with the pressures of social media can lead us to forgetting how lucky and fortunate we really are. When you focus on where you are in comparison to someone else, this can be really powerful. It’s important to ground yourself. Get a blessing box. This comes from Tibetan culture and is a way of looking ahead towards your dreams and never give up on your fantasies. This allows you to really focus on what is important. Allow yourself to see the positive sides of life, don’t focus on the negatives. Do you think that optimism affects our physical health, as well as our mental health? Absolutely – without being optimistic you can begin to feel lost. Optimism gives us direction, and we need this grounding to feel at peace. This allows us to feel less anxious and in control. 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Other than that, I would have to say Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Muhammed Ali – anyone that uses their platform and voice to help motivate and change the whole world we live in. That’s what a role model is to me. To keep up with Neev, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.  Read more