Scott Swerland and Joe Beaudry bring their own tank into the Shark Tank when they pitch Urban Float, their sensory deprivation/relaxation spa business into Shark Tank episode 1013. Sensory deprivation tanks were all the rage in the late sixties and seventies. They were touted as a way to completely relax and unwind. They lost favor when it became widely publicized that their inventor, John Lilly, used a lot of psychedelic drugs.
The tanks of the sixties and seventies resembled coffins, Urban Float tanks look like the pods in the movie Cocoon. Essentially, they do the same thing as the original. Beaudry decided to make a business out of “floating” after he tried a tank out as a way to de-stress. It worked for him, so he approached Mr. Swerland and worked out a partnership. Swerland owns a big chain of tanning salons and he agreed to put three Urban Float tanks in one of his locations.
The concept took off and they opened several locations soon thereafter. Later this year, they plan on opening six spas in the Houston area. Their goal is to be the first nationally branded spa of its kind. They're off to a good start. Last year their current locations generated over $1 million in sales.
The tanks themselves are filled with a lot of epsom salt infused water. The salt prevents anyone from sinking. Customers float in total darkness and silence. The result is a complete disconnect from the world that many find soothing. Beaudry, who attends “floating” trade shows, noticed an uptick in attendance over the course of a few years and believes there's a new trend for this. He wants to be the industry leader. Will a Shark want to float him some cash?
My Take on Urban Float
I actually tried one of the original sensory deprivation tanks when I was 11 years old. My uncle had a friend who had one in his beauty parlor and he let me try it out. It was a bit creepy at first, but I remember feeling very relaxed after about twenty minutes inside. I only did it the one time, but there were many times since I would have LOVED to unwind in one.
Like Beaudry, I think it's a trend that will catch on. Compared to the seventies, the world is far more hectic and stressful. People everywhere are looking for ways to unwind. At $99 bucks a float $45 for your first float), it's a bit steep, but still cheaper than a vacation. People who want to float a lot can sign up for the unlimited float package at $199 a month. A lot of professional athletes use Urban Float to help them focus, so there must be something to it. I am in.
Will Sharks Like These Tanks?
I'm thinking these guys get a deal. The six pending locations in Houston makes me think they do a deal with Mark Cuban. Mark is probably aware that several prominent NBA stars use Urban Float. He also tends to bid on businesses that sell an experience. I'm sure he owns plenty of real estate he can lease to potential franchisees, too.
Other Sharks may bid, but I thinks Mark floats away with this one.