A service that draws people’s attention instantaneously
The most popular service provided by The Happpy Feet is nothing short of a public spectacle. But if the thousands of hits and comments on this fledgling company’s Facebook page is anything to go by, people don’t seem to mind drawing a little attention to themselves.
So, here’s the deal: You are having a particularly stressful day and your feet are killing you. You call or SMS The Happpy Feet helpline and convey your location to them.
In 60 minutes, a professional foot massage therapist arrives on the scene in a canary yellow Tata Nano. The brightly coloured car is not just for effect; it is a portable massage salon, fitted with a custom-made reclining chair and a stool to prop up your weary stumps for an hour.
The portable salon even has a little pigeonhole tucked under the passenger seat where you can stow away your stinky shoes. The shoe-burrow is connected to a ventilation duct that sucks in the musty stench and releases it outside.
The ‘damages’? A neat Rs. 999 with complementary soft drinks and chocolate thrown in.
The only problem (it seems The Happpy Feet’s fans have no problem with this problem) is that the wagon might be parked in the middle of Commercial Street. So, while you take in the sensation, there are a dozen pairs of curious eyes peering through the clear glass window.
“The idea of a mobile massage parlour came to me after I got my first foot massage ever from a street-side Chinese masseuse who ran a roaring business on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco,” says Johnny Stephen (32), one of the partners in the venture.
That was in October 2010. By August 15, 2012, Johnny had managed to rope in friends Sharath Keshava (29) and Devi Prasad (34). Like Johnny, Sharath was a no-nonsense employee of an IT firm until he had a “mad urge to run away from it all”.
And Devi Prasad knew more than a thing or two about startups as he was a senior executive with a leading venture capital firm before he decided to join Sharath and Johnny in their pursuit of happy feet.
The most remarkable feature of the company’s success has been that they have grown completely by word of mouth and through Facebook. Their page on the social networking site has 3,376 ‘likes’ and growing by the minute. Not content with putting their feet up, Sharath, Devi and Johnny are planning their next value addition. It is a taxi service with a twist.
And by now we all know what that twist is likely to be.
“It will, obviously, be a bigger car than a Nano. It will have not one but two massage consoles,” says Sharath. “So, there is a couple that has landed at the airport after a particularly stressful journey…,” Johnny trails off.