From the Four Seasons in Maui to the streets of New York, intravenous (IV) hydration therapy is a wellness trend that has grown exponentially in the last decade. Its relatively low start-up costs and the promise of members willing to make out-of-pocket payments of hundreds or even thousands of dollars makes it a promising new business for clinicians like nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Katie Gilberg, founder and CEO of Hydrate IV Bar, opened her first IV drip location in Denver, Colorado, in 2016. Since then, she’s opened 11 spas –– with four more opening soon –– in what’s become a national franchise.
Gilberg is in good company. According to a market analysis report, the global IV hydration therapy market was valued at $2.32 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow nearly 8% annually from 2023 to 2030. What was once considered only a medical treatment for administering medication or treating dehydration is now a popular antidote for hangovers, sports recovery or skin care.
Gilberg, who’s from Denver, began seeing IV drip mobile locations in 2014 rolling down the Las Vegas Strip, promising relief from hangovers. It was the first time she considered IV therapy in a non-traditional medical setting and realized it was perfect for Denver –– a health-conscious community known for athletes, tourism and a growing wellness industry.
“I felt like we were missing this amazing opportunity to educate the general public of healthy adults that these services can be very accessible and done safely following the same protocols of a traditional medical setting,” she says.
Within two years, Gilberg moved back to Denver to open her first location, offering services for altitude sickness and everyday healthy adults. From the start, Hydrate IV Bar featured a spa-like atmosphere, was open seven days a week and accepted walk-ins. “These little details mattered to me as the consumer. I designed these services I couldn’t find,” says Gilberg.
Starting and running several IV drip therapy businesses means Gilberg is an expert of what every new IV drip therapy owner needs to know. Below she shares some tips she wishes she had known when she started.
6 tips for starting a new IV hydration therapy business
Use your passion and drive to overcome fear
Gilberg hears all the time from people who considered opening an IV drip therapy business in the past and never did. She knows firsthand how scary it is to leap into entrepreneurship. “If you have something that’s keeping you up at night, that you know you’ll regret not trying, that’s all you need to keep going,” she says.
Hire staff to fill your gaps
Without a clinical background, Gilberg knew from the start that her IV drip therapy business couldn’t operate without the right team. She has a business background and worked for years in medical sales. Opening her first location meant hiring a medical team who could treat clients. Whether your expertise is in business or clinical care, Gilberg says no one can be an expert in every area. Hiring the right people from the start relieves stress and sets your IV drip therapy business up to grow.
Focus on education about the benefits of IV drip therapy
Most people interested in wellness have heard of IV drips or even tried it after a hangover in Las Vegas. Building a successful IV drip therapy business requires educating the public about all the benefits of your services outside of treatment for overindulging. “A lot of people don’t realize what their baseline could be –– that even when you already are feeling pretty good, this can make you feel even better,” says Gilberg.
The most popular IV therapy drip at Hydrate IV Bar is the Katie Cocktail, a spin-off of the Myers Cocktail that’s common at many IV drip spas. It’s made up of the Myers cocktail with extra vitamin C and glutathione. “It’s the most expensive and the most complex, but people come saying if they’re getting hooked up, they want it all.”
Introduce an IV drip therapy subscription model early
Hydrate IV Bar offers reactive drips when people are run down, may have food poisoning or are on the verge of getting sick. But early in her business, Gilberg realized she could offer IV therapy drips as a regular wellness regiment. Retaining monthly clients who come for drips regularly is what helps her locations maintain consistent revenue. “We’ve been successful with those who are being proactive and coming to us ahead of time for their health,” she says.
While you need to find ways to set your IV drip therapy business apart, having competition proves you’re offering a desirable service. Gilberg says, “Seven years ago, I would say we do IVs and people would look at me like I had three heads. Now it’s much more common.”
The increasing popularity of wellness businesses means there’s still plenty of market share to go around.
Put employees first and build a culture of a company where you would want to work
Gilberg considers the culture she’s built a key element of the company’s success. “Getting to shape culture is the best part of owning this business. Everyone works hard, but we play hard and have a lot of fun. I’m so proud of the careers we’ve created and the clients we’re servicing.”
Gilberg and her team continue to grow Hydrate IV Bar, with hopes of building the franchise from coast to coast. “There’s no reason this shouldn’t be in every market,” she says.
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