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Beyond service, shaping lives, and transforming wellness through a mobile app

In the modern era, the concept of wellness has evolved to encompass much more than physical health. It has expanded to include mental, emotional, and at times, spiritual well-being. This holistic approach to wellness emphasizes not merely the absence of disease but a proactive pursuit of health and longevity. Understanding this comprehensive perspective on wellness requires an exploration of various global statistics, reflecting the field’s complexity and diversity.

One of the critical aspects of physical wellness is the management of chronic diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes are the leading causes of mortality worldwide, accounting for over 70% of all deaths. This alarming statistic underscores the necessity for effective prevention and management strategies for these long-term health conditions.

Obesity, a significant risk factor for many chronic diseases, has seen a worrying increase worldwide. WHO data indicates that global obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. As of 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, with over 650 million classified as obese. This trend highlights an urgent need for comprehensive strategies focusing on nutrition, physical activity, and lifestyle modification.

Mental wellness has increasingly been recognized as equally important as physical health. The WHO estimates that depression affects 264 million people globally, while anxiety disorders impact approximately 275 million individuals. These figures reveal the extensive reach of mental health issues, emphasizing the critical need for accessible mental health services and support.

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified these mental health challenges. A 2021 study published in The Lancet indicated a significant increase in major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders worldwide, triggered by the pandemic. This situation has highlighted the necessity for resilient and adaptable mental health care systems.

The wellness sector is a significant contributor to the global economy. The Global Wellness Institute valued it at $4.5 trillion in 2018, with expectations of growth in areas like personal care, nutrition, wellness tourism, and fitness. This economic angle underscores the sector’s vast potential and scope.

Healthcare expenditure trends also show an increase relative to GDP. High-income countries spend about 12% of their GDP on health, compared to about 6% in low-income countries. This disparity reflects not only economic differences but also the varying health priorities and challenges across different regions.

There is a significant variation in wellness issues across regions. High-income countries often grapple with lifestyle diseases, while low- and middle-income countries face challenges related to infectious diseases and undernutrition. Access to mental health services also varies widely, with high-income countries typically providing more resources.

Amidst this complex wellness landscape, Urban emerged as a groundbreaking force on February 10, 2014. Founded by Giles Williams and Jack Tang in London, England, Urban represents a pivotal shift in how wellness services are accessed and delivered. Williams and Tang combined their technological savvy and deep understanding of the wellness industry to create a platform that resonates with the needs of contemporary consumers.

Urban’s inception symbolizes the fusion of technology with wellness, addressing the evolving demands of global health and well-being. It stands as a testament to its founders’ vision and the changing nature of wellness in a digitally connected world. As Urban continues to grow, it reflects the dynamic interplay of health, technology, and entrepreneurship in the pursuit of a healthier, more balanced society.

Pain point addressed

Urban, an online wellness appointment platform, specifically targets the challenge of accessibility and convenience in scheduling wellness services. Catering to the fast-paced, urban population, initially focused in London, it offers a streamlined solution for busy city dwellers to easily integrate wellness into their hectic schedules. Urban’s platform simplifies the process of finding, comparing, and booking a range of wellness services like massages, therapy sessions, and fitness classes.

This service distinctly impacts the client-service provider segment of the wellness value chain. Clients benefit from a hassle-free booking experience with diverse options, while wellness professionals, such as therapists and personal trainers, gain increased visibility and client reach. The platform, maintained by Urban’s operational team, ensures a smooth interaction between these stakeholders. In essence, Urban adeptly bridges the gap between wellness seekers and providers, fostering ease of access and efficient service utilization in a busy urban environment.

Type of solution

Urban, in its quest to transform the accessibility and convenience of wellness services, has embraced a digital-first approach. This approach is multifaceted, integrating various digital technologies to create a seamless and user-friendly experience for both wellness seekers and providers. At the heart of Urban’s offering is an online booking platform. This digital interface is the primary touchpoint for users, enabling them to effortlessly browse, compare, and schedule wellness services. The simplicity and efficiency of this system represent a significant shift from traditional appointment scheduling methods, which often involve time-consuming and less flexible processes. Recognizing the ubiquity of smartphones in modern life, Urban has likely ensured its platform is mobile-accessible. This could be through a mobile-responsive website or, more likely, a dedicated mobile application. Such mobile accessibility is crucial for catering to a population that is increasingly reliant on smartphones for managing daily activities. This feature allows clients to book and manage their wellness appointments anytime and anywhere, aligning with the fast-paced lifestyle of urban dwellers.

Incorporating digital payment and management functionalities is another cornerstone of Urban’s solution. The platform likely includes secure digital payment options, simplifying the transaction process for users. Additionally, it may feature appointment management tools like automatic reminders, easy rescheduling options, and a history of past bookings, all designed to enhance user convenience and engagement. For wellness service providers, Urban’s digital solution includes a robust provider interface. This interface allows providers to manage their offerings, adjust their schedules, and interact with clients efficiently. By digitizing these aspects of business management, Urban helps providers streamline their operations, focus more on service delivery, and less on administrative tasks.

Source: https://urban.co/en-gb

Type of input data leveraged

  • User profile and preferences: Includes basic details like name, contact information, age, gender, and location, along with individual preferences and interests for personalized service recommendations.
  • Booking and interaction history: Encompasses past booking details, frequency of service usage, and user interaction data to understand preferences and enhance user experience.
  • Service provider profiles and availability: Covers information about wellness professionals, including qualifications, expertise, and real-time scheduling data for accurate booking.
  • Feedback and ratings: Involves collecting user reviews and ratings for services and providers, and feedback from providers about clients, for quality control and improvement.
  • Transaction and payment history: Includes data on payment methods, transaction history, and use of promotional offers for streamlined financial processing and insights.
  • Transaction and payment history: Includes data on payment methods, transaction history, and use of promotional offers for streamlined financial processing and insights.
  • Market trends and compliance data: Integrates broader industry trends, regional preferences, and health and safety compliance data to align offerings with current standards and market dynamics.

Key technology involved

  • Mobile application development

At the forefront of Urban’s technology strategy is its mobile application development. The platform is accessible on both iOS and Android, ensuring a broad reach across different user groups. The focus on a responsive and user-friendly interface is paramount, considering the diverse demographic that Urban caters to. This approach facilitates ease of use, making wellness service booking a seamless experience for all users. Additionally, the integration of push notifications acts as a crucial feature, keeping users informed with appointment reminders and relevant updates, thus enhancing user engagement and ensuring they stay connected with the platform.

  • Cloud computing

Urban’s infrastructure is significantly bolstered by cloud computing. This technology provides scalable data storage and management solutions, essential for a platform that handles a vast amount of user and booking data. Cloud services enable real-time synchronization of this data across various devices, ensuring that users and service providers have up-to-date information. Moreover, cloud computing is instrumental in enhancing the platform’s data security and backup capabilities, which is crucial in maintaining user trust, especially when handling personal and financial information.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

AI and ML stand as the pillars of Urban’s personalized service delivery. AI algorithms are adeptly applied to offer personalized service recommendations to users, based on their past behaviors and preferences. This personalization not only improves user experience but also drives engagement by presenting users with options that are most relevant to them. ML is utilized for predictive analytics, a feature that improves operational efficiency by anticipating user needs and market trends. Furthermore, the integration of AI-driven chatbots for customer support automates and streamlines query resolution, making customer service more efficient and responsive.

  • Data analytics and big data

Urban’s use of data analytics and big data is a game-changer in understanding and responding to user behavior and preferences. By leveraging big data, Urban can analyze extensive user data to extract meaningful insights about user habits, preferences, and patterns. This analysis informs strategic decision-making and service optimization, allowing Urban to continually adapt and improve its offerings. Additionally, the employment of data visualization tools aids in presenting these insights in an understandable and actionable format, facilitating better decision-making and reporting.

Key applications of solution

Online appointment booking system

  • User-friendly interface
    • Simplified navigation and intuitive design for easy appointment bookings.
    • Customizable filters for service type, location, and availability.
  • Real-time availability checking
    • Up-to-the-minute updates on service provider availability.
    • Instant confirmation of bookings to reduce uncertainty and waiting times.
  • Integrated calendar system
    • Syncs with users’ personal calendars for seamless scheduling.
    • Sends reminders to reduce no-shows and improve customer satisfaction.

Personalized wellness recommendations

  • AI-powered suggestions
    • Utilizes user data and preferences to suggest tailored wellness services.
    • Adapts recommendations based on user interaction and feedback.
  • History-based customization
    • Analyzes past bookings to better understand user preferences.
    • Offers bespoke service combinations and packages.

Seamless payment processing

  • Secure transactions
    • Implements advanced encryption and security protocols.
    • Offers multiple payment methods for user convenience.
  • In-app payment functionality
    • Enables fast and easy in-app payments.
    • Allows storing payment details for quicker future transactions.

Provider management interface

  • Profile customization
    • Allows providers to create and update their service profiles.
    • Features options for listing qualifications, specializations, and reviews.
  • Appointment management
    • Providers can manage their schedules and availability in real-time.
    • Includes options for appointment confirmations and rescheduling.

Customer support and engagement

  • AI-driven chatbots
    • Offers 24/7 customer support through AI chatbots.
    • Handles queries, provides information, and assists with bookings.
  • Feedback and review system
    • Encourages users to rate services and provide feedback.
    • Uses feedback for continuous improvement and quality control.

Health and wellness tracking

  • Integration with wearable devices
    • Syncs with fitness trackers and health apps for comprehensive wellness tracking.
    • Provides insights into physical activity, sleep patterns, and more.
  • Custom wellness plans
    • Offers personalized wellness plans based on tracked data.
    • Suggests modifications and improvements to user routines.

Implications for key stakeholders

Patients (clients seeking wellness services)

  • Enhanced accessibility and personalized care
    • Patients experience a significant increase in accessibility to various wellness services. For example, a patient with mobility issues can easily book home-based physiotherapy sessions through Urban.
    • The platform’s personalized care approach, powered by AI and user data, means patients receive recommendations tailored to their specific health needs and preferences, leading to more effective and satisfying wellness experiences.

Healthcare providers

  • Streamlined appointment management and client tracking
    • Healthcare providers, such as physiotherapists and mental health counselors, benefit from Urban’s efficient appointment management system, reducing administrative burdens and focusing more on patient care.
    • Urban’s platform allows for detailed client tracking, enabling providers to monitor patient progress over time, adjust treatment plans, and deliver more personalized care based on historical data.


  • Potential partnerships for wellness program integrations
    • Insurers find opportunities in partnering with Urban to integrate wellness programs into their offerings. For instance, an insurance company could offer discounted rates for clients using Urban, encouraging preventive health practices.
    • Such partnerships also provide insurers with data-driven insights into the effectiveness of wellness programs, aiding in the development of more targeted health insurance plans and wellness incentives.

Regulatory bodies

  • Compliance with healthcare privacy and digital health regulations
    • Urban’s adherence to healthcare privacy and digital health regulations reassures regulatory bodies about the safe and ethical handling of personal health data.
    • This compliance is crucial in a landscape increasingly focused on data security, ensuring that patient information is protected and that Urban operates within the legal frameworks of digital health provision.

Current impact

  • Revolutionizing access to wellness

A cornerstone of Urban’s approach is the unparalleled ease it brings to accessing wellness services. By enabling clients to enjoy spa and clinic treatments in the comfort of their own homes, Urban has effectively dismantled the barriers of time and location that often impede the pursuit of wellness. This innovation is particularly impactful for those with demanding schedules or limited mobility, integrating wellness seamlessly into the daily lives of a broader demographic. The convenience of home services has likely led to increased utilization of wellness treatments, fostering a more consistent and engaged approach to personal health among Urban’s clientele.

  • Establishing trust through rigorous vetting

Trust is a critical component in the wellness sector, and Urban addresses this through a rigorous vetting process for its therapists. By thoroughly examining each therapist’s qualifications, skills, and hygiene practices, Urban ensures that only the most competent and reliable professionals are enlisted. This meticulous approach to quality control has significant implications. For clients, it instills a sense of confidence and security, knowing that they are receiving care from thoroughly vetted professionals. For the industry at large, Urban’s standards serve as a benchmark for quality, elevating the overall caliber of services available in the wellness market.

  • Championing fairness and sustainability

Urban’s impact is also evident in its economic model, particularly in how it compensates wellness therapists. By allowing therapists to retain an average of 70% of the service fee and 100% of tips, Urban stands out in an industry where service providers often receive a smaller portion of earnings. This fair compensation scheme is more than just an economic policy; it is a statement of empowerment and respect for the professionals’ expertise and hard work. The implications of this model are twofold. Firstly, it ensures the wellbeing and professional satisfaction of therapists, leading to higher retention rates and attracting skilled professionals to the platform. Secondly, for clients, this translates into services provided by highly motivated and adequately compensated professionals, thereby enhancing the quality of care received.

Potential future impact

  • Urban’s journey in revolutionizing the wellness industry is ongoing, with potential developments on the horizon that could further enhance its impact. Drawing inspiration from recent trends and advancements in the health and wellness sector, Urban may be planning to expand its services and technological capabilities. For instance, there’s a growing emphasis on mental wellness globally, so Urban might consider integrating more mental health services such as online counseling or mindfulness sessions. Additionally, as telemedicine gains traction, Urban could explore incorporating virtual wellness consultations, broadening its reach to clients who prefer remote services. These expansions not only align with current healthcare trends but also respond to the increasing demand for comprehensive and accessible wellness solutions.
  • Urban’s achievements of delivering over 1 million treatments and serving 200,000 customers are much more than numerical milestones. They are a testament to the platform’s effectiveness, reach, and the positive impact it has had on the wellness industry. These figures illustrate the trust Urban has garnered from its users and its success in making wellness services accessible and appealing to a broad audience. This significant impact underscores Urban’s role not only as a service provider but also as an influential player in enhancing the culture of wellness and self-care.
  • Given Urban’s current model, which successfully bridges the gap between wellness service providers and clients, there’s significant potential for the company to extend its offerings into adjacent markets. One possibility is the integration of nutritional guidance and diet planning, leveraging their existing platform to offer personalized meal plans and consultations with nutritionists. Another area of potential expansion is the incorporation of fitness and physical therapy services, which would complement their existing wellness treatments and provide a more holistic health approach. Urban could also consider developing a wellness-focused wearable device or app, providing users with real-time health insights and connecting them with Urban’s range of services based on their health data. These innovations would not only diversify Urban’s offerings but also reinforce its position as a comprehensive wellness solution provider.

Business model

Urban adopts a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) framework as its core business model, a strategy that aligns perfectly with the nature of the wellness industry. This model’s focus on direct engagement with individual consumers brings several advantages, making it particularly effective in delivering personalized wellness experiences.


Personalized service offerings

  • Tailors wellness services to individual preferences and needs.
  • Allows for a deeper understanding of customer behavior, enabling more targeted and relevant service offerings.

Enhanced customer experience

  • Facilitates a direct line of communication with consumers, ensuring immediate feedback and swift resolution of issues.
  • Fosters a sense of community and loyalty among users by providing them with a bespoke wellness journey.

Greater market responsiveness

  • Enables Urban to quickly adapt to changing consumer trends and preferences in the wellness sector.
  • Provides the agility to innovate and introduce new services in response to customer demands.

Funding and key investors

Urban’s funding trajectory, culminating in a total raise of $35.7 million over 10 rounds, is a testament to its growth and the confidence investors have in its business model and market potential. The latest round on September 23, 2020, involving Equity Crowdfunding, marks a significant milestone in Urban’s journey. Key investors in Urban include BNF Capital and ADV, who were lead investors in different rounds, along with Felix Capital and Passion Capital. Additionally, Seedrs, a platform known for equity crowdfunding, also participated in Urban’s funding rounds. This diverse group of investors reflects confidence in Urban’s business model and potential in the wellness industry.

Competitive differentiator

Urban sets itself apart in the crowded wellness market with a unique and impactful differentiator: a specialized Wellness Concierge Service. This service goes beyond the standard offerings of scheduling and booking. It provides a tailored experience where customers receive personalized guidance and recommendations for their wellness journey.

  • Tailored recommendations: Clients are not just booking a service; they’re getting expert advice on what treatments and wellness plans best suit their individual needs, lifestyles, and health goals.
  • Human touch in a digital world: While leveraging digital efficiency, Urban ensures a human element is present, offering a more empathetic and understanding approach to customer care.
  • Building trust and loyalty: This personalized attention fosters deeper trust and customer loyalty, as clients feel genuinely cared for and understood on a personal level.
  • Enhanced user experience: The Wellness Concierge Service elevates the user experience, making it more holistic and customer-focused, thereby distinguishing Urban in a market often saturated with impersonal digital platforms.

Relevant regulatory and compliance requirements

Data protection and privacy laws

  • Compliance with regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU and similar laws in other jurisdictions is crucial for protecting user data.
  • Regular audits and updates to privacy policies and data handling procedures are necessary to align with evolving data protection laws.

Healthcare regulations

  • Adherence to healthcare-specific regulations, such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in the U.S., for protecting health information.
  • Compliance with local and national healthcare laws and guidelines, especially when dealing with telemedicine or virtual healthcare services.

Consumer protection laws

  • Ensuring that marketing practices, pricing, and service delivery comply with consumer rights and protection laws.
  • Transparency in terms and conditions, especially regarding cancellations, refunds, and service guarantees.

E-commerce and digital transaction laws

  • Compliance with e-commerce regulations, including secure online payment processes and financial data protection.
  • Adhering to laws governing digital transactions, contracts, and user agreements.

Partnerships and collaborations

  • Urban has formed several partnerships that enhance its service offerings and operational effectiveness. Notably, Urban has partnered with Superscript, a digital-first insurance provider. This collaboration facilitates the provision of customizable insurance cover for Urban’s platform users, particularly wellness practitioners. This partnership ensures that practitioners operating via Urban’s platform remain fully compliant with regulatory requirements and are protected in their professional practice, especially in the digital and mobile working environments.
  • Urban has undertaken initiatives to improve partner earnings and livelihood. These include developing a dedicated women safety & SOS helpline, modifying partner rating mechanisms, and enhancing the dignity of work by sensitizing customers to treat partners fairly. They also focus on vaccination support and insurance for their partners. Such initiatives reflect Urban’s commitment to the welfare and professional development of its partners, thereby strengthening its business ecosystem.


“Great massage in the comfort of my own home. Highly recommended!”

Mihaela– User

“The best deep tissue massage I have ever had. Wonderful therapist, punctual and professional!”

Lisa Hughes– User

Areas for continuous improvement

Deepening user personalization with advanced analytics

  • While Urban already offers personalized services, there’s always room to deepen this personalization. Leveraging more advanced analytics and AI to understand customer preferences and behavior patterns could provide even more tailored recommendations and services.

Expansion of holistic wellness offerings

  • Urban could explore adding more diverse and holistic wellness categories, such as mental health support, nutritional counseling, or holistic health coaching, to cater to a wider range of customer needs.




Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions, content, and analysis in my posts are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of any current or past employers or institutional affiliations. These posts, based solely on publicly available information, are for informational purposes and should not be taken as professional advice. All insights and conclusions are my viewpoints and should not be considered representative of any organizations I am or have been associated with. This content is not endorsed by, nor does it represent the stance of any affiliated entity.


Hiequity Team

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