Iglika Ghouse: London Is the Most Cosmopolitan City in the UK. It Is Large, Diverse, Vibrant and Is the Perfect Environment To Start Any Business

September 18, 2022

Iglika Ghouse of USPAAH – Your Spa At Home.

Tell us about yourself?

Originally from Bulgaria, Iglika studied in the USA and spent 10yrs working in the financial industry in London, before coming up with the idea for USPAAH.

She identified a problem that was universal to both consumers and therapists in the industry and set out to fix it. Since founding the company in 2014, she has grown it from strength to strength with now over 1000 therapists who have delivered over 20,000 treatments to busy Londoners.  

She has built up a team of beauty and business experts, and having completed two successful crowd fundings most recently in September 2019, there are no signs of slowing down. 

Not to mention, that somewhere along this journey Iglika gave birth to 2 children, and is pregnant with a 3rd, and so on top of building this beauty empire she is a full time mum. 

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

I’ve learned a number of valuable lessons through this journey. The most important of all deriving from the old saying “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together”.

As brilliant and capable as a founder may be, the team you have around you will define your journey and ultimate success.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Build less, test more, finding a product market fit and customer acquisition is paramount in the early days of a startup, much more important than having the perfect looking app or website.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

Certainly not easy. There were times when work was consuming 12-14 hrs of my day which was unsustainable and lead to a mental and physical burn out.

Since then, I’ve learned to let go a lot of things, outsource a lot of tasks and rely more on my team so that I can have a more balanced and healthy mind.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

When I first started the company, the most powerful influence was the success and quick spread of Uber. Back in 2014 the gig or on demand economy was in it’s nascent phase in London and Uber made it seem like the model can be easily applied to most services.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

We care greatly about the quality of the practitioners that are on our platform and have a much stricter onboarding process than most competitors.

In time this has meant that we’ve established a brand known for high end quality treatments and customers service.

We’ve also listened to our clients’ wishes and over time have expanded to offer over 50 different services from Massage, Nails, Hair, Waxing, and even Yoga and Pilates.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

Customer acquisition is by far the most important aspect of growth and best practices in the field have evolved a lot over the years. 6-7 years ago Facebook was the dominant digital channel, pictures were preferred, then that changed into videos, Google ads overtook pretty much all other platforms and now it’s all about who has the deepest pockets to outbid on their google ads.

Original content doesn’t carry nearly the same power as it did before, it’s much more difficult to “beat” the algorithms and achieve viral status for any campaign.

So if you’re on a tight marketing budget, refine your strategy, run google tests and just spend on the ads that work for you.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?

Fundraising as a single female founder in a male dominated VC world has certainly not been easy, so I’ve had to come up with alternative ways of raising capital.

In our case that was via crowdfunding and we managed to raise over £500,000 by utilising the power of our networks and the accessible nature of our product and services.

What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?

London is the most cosmopolitan city in the UK. It is large, diverse, vibrant and is the perfect environment to start any business. People say about New York that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, I’d say the same is true for London.

Are there any issues with having a London based business? Have you experienced these?

I found London and the UK in general to be very startup friendly. Everything from registering a company online to setting up accounts, to learning and networking with like minded people has been really smooth and progressive.

How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?

The cost of living crisis has certainly impacted all of us, our staff our therapists, clients and community.

As a business owner however you learn to adapt and survive in various ways, sometimes that means cost cutting, putting some projects on hold etc.

We survived 2 years of COVID, multiple lockdowns and service interruptions, this is just another challenge that is part of life as a business owner.

If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?

There are many great cities in the UK, but I’d say probably Manchester or Birmingham as they are the next largest and one needs to be in a large city for a consumer business such as ours to thrive.

How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?

Brexit has definitely impacted ours and many other service businesses in terms of the drain on talent that it caused.

A lot of freelance workers went back to their home countries never to return and recruitment is now more difficult and more expensive than ever.

I think there is some light at the end of the tunnel though as younger people in the UK come into the work force and fill the jobs left vacant.

At some point the cost of living crisis will force a lot of people that may have been used to reduced working hours during covid, back into full time employment.

What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?

USPAAH has experienced double digit growth post COVID and that is a clear indicator that people want and need our services.

We plan on continuing to serve our customers to the best of our abilities and expanding our coverage even further outside of London.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

They can contact us via our website or one of our social media channels, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Follow USPAAH – Your Spa At Home on Twitter or Linkedin.

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