University of Delaware
A woman relaxes at the East Coast Float Spa, recently opened by UD MBA student Matt Kay.

A floating spa

UD MBA student Matt Kay has opened his unique spa for business


2:18 p.m., Sept. 23, 2014--University of Delaware master of business administration student Matt Kay has opened the new East Coast Float Spa, offering his clients the health benefits of total weightlessness. 

Kay’s unique spa, located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is the largest of its kind within over 125 miles.

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During therapeutic floating, a client enters a tub containing water as well as over 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts. The density of this mixture allows the client to float effortlessly in the water, inducing a state of deep meditative relaxation and alleviating physical discomfort.

Kay first discovered floating years ago during a vacation to California, where float spas are more popular than on the East Coast. Suffering from chronic pain due to injuries from a serious car accident, Kay was seeking natural pain relief as an alternative to painkillers.

“The first time I floated, I loved it,” said Kay. “I immediately booked another session for two days later.”

Kay was interested in helping others to access the physical and mental benefits of floating, known as restricted environmental stimulation theory, or REST. 

“The science is out there to back it up,” said Kay of floating. “It’s really just a matter of continuing to spread the awareness.” 

Opened last month, the East Coast Float Spa features three “float rooms,” and is one of less than 15 spas in the country with such facilities. Kay said that these spacious rooms provide a “much more inviting experience” than traditional sensory deprivation chambers, which are enclosed and can feel “claustrophobic.”

Kay says that he feels the proudest of his new business when he receives positive feedback from his clients. In the weeks since the spa’s opening, Kay has worked with clients who, through floating, find genuine relief for chronic pain from conditions like fibromyalgia and scoliosis. 

“Being able to really help people is what I’m most passionate about and what interests me the most,” said Kay. “That’s why we do this.”

The East Coast Float Spa also provides a post-float lounge to clients, which boasts zero gravity massage chairs, organic tea and an oxygen bar. The spa, which offers a 25 percent discount for students, will be celebrating its grand opening on Friday, Sept. 26, from 5-8 p.m. More information on the grand opening can be found here.

“This is an environment that removes all of the noise and distraction from the world,” said Kay. “When your brain doesn’t have to focus on all these other variables, your body and mind naturally slow down. You achieve a level of relaxation physiologically that you can’t in any other way. This can help heal physical pain as well as really be beneficial for mental health.”

Utilizing UD student resources

Kay said that the resources and lessons that he’s taken from his time in UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics have been essential to the trajectory of his new business.

“The experience that I’ve had so far in the program has been invaluable,” said Kay. He said that the program expanded his knowledge on subjects like marketing strategies.

Kay also participated in the Startup eXperience course with the Lerner College’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship

“Being able to bounce ideas off of professionals, to ask questions and get opinions, really helped shape and refine my approach,” said Kay of these courses. “My approach is much different today than it was a year ago.”

Dan Freeman, director of the Horn Program, agrees that Kay has learned a great deal from these entrepreneurial courses.

"Matt came into the first Startup eXperience class with what he thought was a very defined plan for his business,” said Freeman. “Using Lean Startup methodology and guidance from our startup advisers, Matt was able to clarify and refine his vision for East Coast Float Spa to launch a business that is more likely to succeed.”

As a participant of the Horn Program’s VentureOn program, Kay has also been able to put the resources offered in the Venture Development Center (VDC) to good use.  

Utilizing the VDC’s in-house media production resources, Kay and his team created promotional videos and print materials for the East Coast Float Spa. 

The VentureOn program also provides its participants 24/7 access to the VDC. This was particularly helpful to Kay during the spa’s construction, when the VDC served as a meeting space.

“I saw this quote, I think in the VDC, that resonated with me: ‘If you don’t work on your own dreams, you’ll wind up working for someone else’s,’” said Kay. “Bringing to reality something I’ve been working on for the last three years is very fulfilling.”

Article by Sunny Rosen

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