Business Technology

Jack Tang: Why it pays to find a gap in the market

5 min read

25 August 2014

Although innovation is at the core of every viable business idea, you need to connect the dots and find the missing links your customers demand for your offering to truly stand out in a competitive marketplace.

Having always been an entrepreneur at heart, Jack Tang started on the road to success at the tender age of 11 selling cartoon trading cards. At 12 years old he founded a business which sold bespoke computers and at 14 he started web design company Interwebs.

Tang is, however, possibly better known as the co-founder of The Student Job website, which was started in his second year of university and was acquired by The Daily Mail Group. Being uniquely positioned to spot the gap, he found out everything he could about the market and owned it.

And you don’t need to come up with a completely different offering to make success like this happen.

“All you need to do is take an existing idea and do it better,” he said. “You may be faster, cheaper or have a better focus on customer service – either way you need to find a differentiator.”

His latest venture, Urban Massage, is proof of that theory. You can’t get any more traditional than the massage industry, but Tang has found a way to innovate the on-demand mobile service that delivers a vetted freelance massage expert straight to your door within 60 minutes notice.

And even though he had no expertise in the area, he stresses that knowledge comes as you learn more about the sector you work in. In fact, he advises that if you have a brilliant idea then you should “absolutely explore into the different venture possibilities. Don’t wait for things to happen, because they won’t. And you’ll learn a lot of new skills every time you do something different.”

While having a massage, he had “a light bulb moment”. 

Tang tells a story where he underwent a rigorous journey in the attempt of booking an appointment.

“When I was finally able to book my treatment, I spoke with the therapist purely to understand the challenges the business ultimately faced and discovered that there were quality issues, logistic issues, etc.”

“At the time I followed the Uber economy quite closely, understanding that consumer behaviour is shifting towards an ‘I want it now and I want it delivered’ mentality.” Indeed, growing up in a fast-paced tech world, Millennials have come to demand instant gratification of their consumer demands, and this means tapping not only into innovation, but the much touted mobile industry as well.

“This is something that Uber, which was founded on the collaborative consumption economy, did really well. They deliver services to people at a moment’s notice, a quality that was sorely lacking in the wellness, fitness and beauty sector. What’s more, on current services such as TaskRabbit and Bizzby you can order different services from the same place and quality scoring was based on peer-to-peer assessment. However, what if my perspective of a 5-star treatment is different to your perspective of 5-star? Once again, I had found something that was missing from the sector.

“So my vision was to combine the convenience of providing the on-demand personal services with our Urban Massage standard of treatments. The consumers ultimately dealing with our service standards know what the Urban Massage 5-star treatment is. We’ve positioned ourselves as high quality and convenient, catering for the time-poor professionals in Urban areas – all over.”

They have also branched out with a B2B white-labelled service for hotels and companies without therapy rooms.

But what truly makes the company stand out, however, is that apart from the consumer-facing web app, behind the scenes, Urban Massage freelance therapists, aka Urban Heroes, are given an app of their own, which is key to their quick response to consumers. By using third-party APIs in its own algorithms, they can efficiently schedule jobs on the go and reduce travel times.

More importantly, it ensures that therapists will never be at risk. In fact, the technology allows them to see when a client has been placed in the bad books and lets them decline an offer if they think they’ll be in trouble.