Million-Dollar Ideas

10. Massage

You've got the footrest, the ergonomic trackball and the wrist pad--and your spine is situated in the recommended "S" shape against your posture-correcting chair. But no matter how often you take those joint-popping stretch breaks, the muscle spasms persist. So millions of us hobble on over to legit massage parlors for some alternative healing.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, consumers spent between $4 billion and $6 billion on visits to massage therapists in 1998. And with research indicating that a basic 15-minute chair massage twice a week results in decreased job stress and increased productivity, this pop alternative treatment has opportunity written all over it--an opportunity Brian Flynn, 32, took to the retail level in the form of a walk-in massage store.

With his $800 massage certification and a location at the trendy Orange, California, open-air mall The Block, Flynn and partner John Gessford (far l.), 34, used $125,000 in personal savings to open Past Tense Inc. Offering 10-minute "Stress Buster" massages for $9.95 and 20-minute "Rest Stops" for $19.95, the pair have recouped double their start-up investment since opening in 1998 and plan to launch a second store in Los Angeles next year.

Besides attracting scads of shoppers with the store's no-disrobing, no-oil, no-hassle environment, Past Tense has also landed corporate accounts, providing mobile massages at local businesses. For those without the capital to open a retail location, focusing on mobile massage alone can be an inexpensive way to get started. "The [quick-massage aspect] of the industry is really in its initial stages," says Flynn, "and it's only going to get bigger."

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Million-Dollar Ideas.

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