Written as part of Ignite Fredericton‘s Business Profile Series while employed as Economic Development Intern (June-August 2014)
Anna Migchels, Founder & CEO – Massage2Go
For Anna Migchels, Founder and CEO of Massage2Go, it’s time to grow.
Massage2Go is a Fredericton-based startup incorporated in 2011. Their service targets the corporate wellness industry by providing 15 minute over-the-clothing massages to employees in their workplace on a regular basis to reduce tension and increase productivity and accuracy in the workplace.
Migchels was taking neuropsychology at Dalhousie University when she realized she wanted to go into the medical field. She decided on massage therapy because she could help people while still raising her family. After graduating in 2002, Migchels began working at Hands-On Health Massage Therapy Clinic in Fredericton, where is still a partner today.
After a bumpy beginning with her startup, Massage2Go is expanding to new cities across New Brunswick with future plans to move into Halifax and Prince Edward Island.
“My family are all farmers, so we certainly have the attitude of growing things and building them up and a willingness to work hard,” says Migchels, whose family emigrated from the Netherlands in 1987 when she was a child. Because she comes from a family of immigrants, Migchels believes she has the drive that steers her towards entrepreneurship and the determination to overcome her current challenge to break down the preconceived notions that massage in the workplace is a luxury. Rather, her business is an opportunity for corporations to benefit from a high return on investment by improving employee productivity.
“Think of health care costs in a corporation… We are basically bringing your soft tissue experts into the workplace for 15 minutes, per employee, per week,” says Migchels. She believes that Massage2Go’s services save corporations time and money. “We help employees take care of themselves and their aches and pains without leaving work. We give them stretches; we give them motivations to lead a healthier lifestyle. It goes beyond massage… We get your employees self-motivated to improve their lives and improve their work/life balance.”
Massage2Go is currently servicing eight companies in Fredericton on a regular basis, with anywhere from 20 to 130 employees within each company.
“There is not a wage increase that can give you more benefits than the 50 dollars you spend on employees through Massage2Go per month,” says Migchels, who added that her business requires little space, just enough room for a chair that can be walked around. “When you look at the benefit at the end: employee retention, employee wellness, decrease in sick days, focus, productivity, and accuracy… you’re missing the boat by not bringing it in.”
Migchels has one full time employee doing administrative work, four sub-contracted massage therapists working in Fredericton, and other contracted massage therapists working across New Brunswick. Though she is expanding, Migchels is keeping her head office in Fredericton.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying doing business in Fredericton. The help I received from Ignite, and from SEED capital loan has enabled me to get things going,” says Migchels. “I felt I was mostly only a massage therapist… this support has helped me grow into becoming an entrepreneur by teaching me about business, book keeping, accounting and marketing… The training was really important to me.”
Migchels describes the life of an entrepreneur as a rollercoaster, which has its ups and downs. Though her personality is compatible with this, she says New Brunswick has a supportive business environment, both from fellow startups and larger businesses leaders, to help deal with the lows.
“I think Ignite is there when you need them to be there,” says Migchels. “I very much appreciated that at a time when I needed sound advice, I could go to them and they can guide you based on their own experiences or based on the experiences they have seen.”
Though massage therapy in the work place is new to New Brunswick, it is not new to other parts of North America. “It’s why we’re staying here, this is where the market is,” says Migchels, who adds being in Fredericton gave her an advantage she would not have gotten had she started her business elsewhere.
“What I love about New Brunswick, and definitely about Fredericton, is entrepreneurs willing to help entrepreneurs. In New Brunswick, we are only one call away from the person we need to meet, the person who can help us, and in New Brunswick, we help each other,” says Migchels, who laughs at the fact that a day in her life is never typical. “Every day is an opportunity because of the generous people around me.”
Migchels is the CEO of Massage2Go while still working as a massage therapist at Hands-on Health, being a mother of three and the co-founder of the Fredericton Chapter of 100 Women Who Care. Using her SEED loan through Ignite Fredericton, Migchels paid to be part of a mentorship program through Leadership Management International Canada. It was here that she was paired up with Donna Gardiner-Thompson, a Fredericton realtor who manages her family owned business. The two formed a close connection and decided to start 100 Women, a not-for profit organization which brings together women from the community, four times a year, to raise funds for a local cause. The format brings together three local charities to pitch to the large group of women, where each woman has one vote and at the end of the night, the winning cause receives a $100 cheque from each woman, totalling over $10,000.
“To be able to give back to the community is important; it energizes me in my business and keeps me going. They feed each other but, of course, it is the entrepreneurial nature that makes it grow,” says Migchels.
“I’m up for the challenge. I really am.”
BY: Nicola MacLeod, ED Intern 2014