How We Started A Multi-Million Dollar Massage Therapy Products Business [From Our Kitchen Table]

Paul McCabe
Founder, Pulseroll
$240K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
Pulseroll
from Manchester, UK
started May 2016
$240,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
622K
alexa rank
40.5K
followers
7.21K
followers
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

I’m Paul McCabe, CEO & Founder of Pulseroll, one of the UK’s leading providers of muscle recovery technology and vibration massage therapy products.

We provide a range of percussion therapy devices that are scientifically proven to help improve flexibility and blood circulation as well as relieve muscle spasms and ease chronic pain.

We offer two massage guns, including our award-winning mini-massage gun, two vibrating foam rollers, and two different shaped vibrating massage balls. These devices are for everyone, from Olympians, professional athletes across all sports, casual gym-goers, and couch potatoes to my 88-year-old dad.

We are a multi-million pound business with over 25 retained staff and our products are stocked in more than 20 countries.

pulseroll

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I have been running my own business for 20 years and started Pulseroll in 2016.

I enjoy playing sports and going to the gym but have always suffered from poor flexibility and muscle soreness. This led me to spend a lot of money, and time, on physio appointments and massage treatment.

I was at an innovation event in China six years ago when I saw a prototype for a vibrating foam roller. I was already aware of the benefits of percussion therapy and saw this as a gap in the market to offer people a product that can act as a physio in your bag. Understanding that this was the start of the evolution of the foam roller and a chance to get in at the beginning, I came back home and launched the UK’s first-ever vibrating foam roller.

I remember being sat at my kitchen table in Manchester, with a whiteboard, planning my business strategy. In the early days, I spent a lot of time validating my product at trade shows and exhibitions, getting consumers to try the device. I also visited several rehabilitation specialists and gym owners for their expert thoughts and insights.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Starting with £10,000 saved up from my other company, getting started was a very time-consuming process and included a lot of visits to China, with every little change often taking between 30-60 days to implement.

Reputation is everything though, so I was happy to take this time to make sure that the product was of the best possible quality. I’m still continuously testing the products and looking to improve what we can offer the consumer, which is why we are now on our third generation of vibrating foam rollers.

Image below - our first product. The first-ever vibrating foam roller to be introduced to the UK market

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Image below - one of our first trade events

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Image below - one of our first mass participation events

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Describe the process of launching the business.

Like any business, I identified a need and developed a product to provide a solution. For me, it was important that this was a premium product but affordable to the masses.

Surround yourself with positive thinking people and also people who might currently be more successful than you, maybe you will learn something from them.

I launched with a Wordpresswebsite, which did a job, but is now on its 4th version, and will shortly be improved again. It was then just a case of knocking on gym doors, attending events and shows, and getting in front of influential people in the health and fitness space. This paid dividends as I supplied GB Boxing with foam rollers in my first few months. It was great to get validation from such a respected and professional governing body in these early stages.

The biggest lesson I learned was never to start a business at the same time as having a baby, but if you can survive, it makes you stronger. You need to be prepared to sacrifice your life for it and embrace the hard work and challenges that come your way.

I found out very quickly that you need to surround yourself with the right people who have a positive mindset, this is often not your immediate circle of friends.

Don’t be selfish with the people you are trying to engage with and always understand what is in it for them.

pulseroll

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Don’t be too scattered gun and be consistent with your approach and thought process. Look at your goals for the year and reverse engineer them - break them down and understand how the little parts of the puzzle will help you achieve where you want to go.

I set out with a list of organizations and individuals I wanted to work with and have seen the benefit of brand partnerships. 2x world champion boxer, Anthony Joshua was at the top of this list and after meeting him in 2017, he has become a strong advocate for the brand and believes in the product, so much so that he invested in Pulseroll last year.

It is also vital to get as many people as possible to try your products and understand for themselves how they work and what benefit they can have.

You will always make mistakes, but don’t be scared of them, just learn from them and move forward.

We want to build a Pulseroll community and know how important brilliant customer service is, even when challenges arise.

We appreciate our customers on social media, keep them updated on offers and competitions through our newsletter, and always keep innovating, offering them new products but also improving existing products.

If you are gifting products, make sure that you have a definite agreement in place for social media, unless they are a huge name that you are prepared to lose your money on in case they do not share on social media. Gifting products is key - be aggressive but be careful as it is your hard-earned money that can be spent in other areas or even just to go into the charity box!

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pulseroll

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Our business is currently valued at over £10m with a 174% year-on-year growth, which has been helped by some fantastic partnership deals with Anthony Joshua, Premier League football clubs, Premiership rugby clubs, County cricket clubs, and National governing bodies. These partners have a total reach of over 35 million on social media, which complements our strong following of over 50,000.

We are distributed in more than 20 countries including the middle east with the majority of our business done in the UK but with huge global expansion plans in 2022. Over here we are stocked in Selfridges, Boots, American Golf, Costco, Fraser group and also appeared on QVC, where we sold out within five minutes during our first appearance. We also retail in the Middle East with GoSport which has 13 stores across 4 countries.

The next 12 months are huge for us as we look to push on to the next level. We are growing extremely fast in a red hot wellness tech category, but all of the profits over the last 5 years have gone back into building the brand, research and development, and the team. This year we will enter new markets across the world, introduce new products to our range and launch a new brand identity and website, with the target of increasing revenue by over 2.5x.

We are based in Manchester and will be opening a distribution center in Europe by the end of Q1 this year. This will be the first of several new distribution centers we have planned for 2022, including one in North America.

We are currently going through an exciting new rebrand and will launch with a new-look website in Q2. This rebrand signals the evolution of our business from more than just a recovery brand to a rounded well-being service. This will be supported by a range of new products that will move away from percussion therapy, however, percussion therapy, and our massage products will always be a huge part of our business and we will continue to develop these to offer consumers the very best treatment.

My short-term goals are centered around the rebrand and maximizing that. It signals a really exciting stage in the development of the business and will act as a springboard for us to take the company to the next level. We will also shortly be launching a new range of products and I am keen to keep growing the team and expand the business in new markets.

Long-term - Percussion massage is due to be a $4 billion industry by 2024 and our aim is to be a top 3 global brand by the end of 2022 with the ultimate aim to eventually become the leading one.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

At first, I think I struggled with delegation, but it was something I had to learn quickly as you reach a point where you need to trust others and utilize their skill set to help move the business forward.

I have been brave and decisive but I never make decisions that can cost me the business.

I would say that I am lucky every day. I think the most important thing is that people genuinely love the product, but I have been lucky to meet several great people who have helped me and helped shape Pulseroll and the success we have had.

It was so hectic in the early days, and still is now, but I remember going into a meeting underprepared and I was made to feel very uncomfortable. That was a huge lesson, you might only get one opportunity, so make sure you are completely focused and find the time to prepare and plan properly.

You will always make mistakes, but don’t be scared of them, just learn from them and move forward.

I keep a gratitude book where I set my goals for the week and also work with a brilliant business coach. Writing down goals and plans for the week helps me focus and drives me forward.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

My favorite tool is the iPhone. The simplicity of being able to do everything from a small inconspicuous device is perfect for the busy daily schedule and means that I can be constantly connected.

As a business, we use a quick communication platform called Slack, which means you can DM anyone and get a quick response, but my favorite quick comms platform is still Whatsapp. After taking the time to set up my key business groups, I can send voice messages instantly and replies can be fast. Speed is vital in a small company and we need fast results.

I find myself constantly connecting to social platforms and especially LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, I want to see what’s happening, who’s reading our articles, what they like, what they don’t like, This obsession (if you can call it that), is what helps drive me, drives the team, drives the business

Other Platforms that help to keep the business moving:

  • Shopify+ delivered through our service partner ‘The Moot Group’ helps to provide an effective Ecom business.
  • Shopify+ and Google Analytics provide me with deeper insights into B2C performance.

  • Monday.com - To manage our key projects from all over the company, we have worked on a system called ‘Click-up’ which has supported us over the last 12-18 months. As we continue to grow we are going to migrate over to ‘Mondays’ to fulfill the team's needs and also manage the ever-growing diary requirements! Each day is full, full of productive meetings for everyone but we need to be accessible to everyone, and ‘Mondays’ will help deliver that solution.

  • Pipedrive– We’ve had to expand our platforms for the sales staff to help monitor conversations and sales, so our ever-growing sales team will be using Pipedrive which is being implemented as we speak.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I’ve recently started listening to the High Performance podcast and took a lot from the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by David Carnegie.

I would also say that sometimes the old thoughts and theories are incredibly valuable and I read a lot of Norman Vincent Peale’s work, who popularized the concept of positive thinking in the mid1900s. I would recommend people look at some of his stuff.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

One of the big things I have learned is not to let friends or family members talk you out of what you want to do. At times they might not see your vision and the ambitious ideas that you have.

Do however surround yourself with positive thinking people and also people who might currently be more successful than you, maybe you will learn something from them. It is good to admit that you don’t know everything, listen to people’s experiences and be open to people’s ideas.

Don’t be impatient, you need to trust yourself and trust the process but at the same time, I often see people not make decisions early enough. If something isn’t working, quickly make a decision and pivot. You are still applying the same process, but you might need to slightly tweak a certain area that isn’t working.

Dream Big! I started Pulseroll with a whiteboard from my kitchen table. I wrote down the names of people I wanted to work with and who I thought could help my business grow. 2x World Boxing Champion, Anthony Joshua, was top of that list, not just for his sporting prowess, but for the way he handles himself and the positive role model he is.

I went to his training center in Sheffield for months on end, trying to have a conversation with him. Finally, I was given a few minutes of his time and gifted him some of my products. Our relationship grew over time and four years later, AJ invested in Pulseroll and now acts as one of our ambassadors.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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Paul McCabe, Founder of Pulseroll
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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