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On-demand massage competition heats up in Baltimore

Zeel is looking to be the go-to app for relaxation on demand. It arrives just two months after its competitor, Soothe, expanded here.

A Zeel massage. (Courtesy photo)
One said it invented the on-demand massage category. Another considers itself the Uber for massage. Both startups are now in Baltimore.

Zeel became the second app-based massage service to move into Baltimore this fall.
The New York startup announced that it launched in the city on Monday. It allows customers to book with a licensed massage therapist, who can perform the massage in a customer’s home, office or hotel.
Through the company’s app or website, customers can indicate the time, location and the gender of the massage therapist. The therapist brings a massage table and music, and tips are included in payment.
The company was founded in 2012, and founder Samer Hamadeh said the company pioneered the “massage on demand category.”
Taking the pain points out of stress relief is apparently a promising consumer-facing business model these days.
Soothe, which launched in Baltimore at the beginning of September, is also in the space. The two are competitors, but both told Bloomberg earlier this year that they raised new cash and appear to be thriving.
Zeel markets its differentiator as a membership program. Becoming a “Massage Zeelot” earns a discount, and your very own massage table.
The competition is another sign that Baltimore is a viable market for the on-demand economy, whether it’s rides, groceries or walking dogs. Several homegrown consumer-facing startups have emerged, and the city also saw a big OrderUp exit. Will any others emerge to challenge these out-of-town players?

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