The hottest health fad of late — Cryotherapy — claims to detoxify the body, reduce inflammation and stall aging by encasing you in a nitrogen chamber, known as a Cryosauna, at below freezing temperatures in two- to three-minute sessions. It was first developed in Japan in the late 1970s to treat chronic medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Somehow it caught on with pro-football and basketball players and found its way to the U.S. in 2010.
Skyler Scarlett and Brittney Scarlett-Torres’ father believed in it so much that he sold his three-bedroom Las Vegas home to help them open a cryotherapy spa in 2014 in Carmel, Calif. They hope to eventually buy dad another house when they become the McDonald’s of cryotherapy, expanding their Glace Cryotherapy franchise from six locations into a thousand.
Shark Tank may very well help with that. The Scarletts, also known as the “ice siblings,” entered the tank in February 2016, seeking a $100,000 investment for 15% of their business. They raked in $150,000 in sales their first year in business. They earned about $90,000 in profits and fully recovered their initial $85,000 investment.
All but one Shark gave the brother and sister millennials the cold shoulder.
“You’re just a retail store,” said Robert Herjavec. He said he felt great after trying the cryosauna himself on the show. But he didn’t think the Scarletts had a good game plan.
Kevin O’Leary concurred. Anyone could buy a machine for $55,000 and open a own shop.
“You have nothing,” Mr. Wonderful said empathically. “Nothing!”
Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner both thought it was a good business but not investable.
Barbara Corcoran warmed up to the Scarletts, offering $100,000 for 30% of business.
“I will build this into a million dollars in 12 months,” she said.
The Scarletts accepted immediately.
The Scarletts charge franchisees $30,000 to use license the Glace Cryotherapy name in exchange for their marketing and special discounts on the cryosauna units. The machines cost anywhere from $37,000 to $49,000, according to CryoUSA, a Dallas-based retailer. The nitrogen required to produce the cold air to -200 to -240 degrees Fahrenheit costs about $4 to $6 per session but could be as low as $1 depending on the spa’s volume and set up, according to a CryoUSA representative.
The U.S. cryotherapy industry is still in diapers. There were only about two dozen spas in the U.S. — mostly in Texas — when the Scarletts opened theirs in October 2014.
“We hope to add 20 franchises by the end of the year and double every year,” said Brittney, who worked as executive assistant and marketing coordinator for Richard MacDonald, a sculptor. “If we have 500 to 1,000 (locations), we would be very happy. We want it in every major city.”
Our training and franchise model is the best in the whole country, the Scarletts say. “It’s not as simple as pushing a button. We have mastered handling the nitrogen,” said Skyler, who has an undergraduate degree in exercise physiology with a minor in nutrition.
Neither take a formal salary from the business. Skyler cut his rent down to $0 by living in a barn built in the 1800s on his mother’s property. The building is equipped with running water and a bed but has no kitchen or insulation.
Glace charges new clients $40 for a two- to three-minute session. Single sessions costs $65 or $40 each for a package of four. Monthly memberships run $300, lowering visits to as little as $17. The Scarletts say about 80% of all customers became repeat customers in the first year. They average 20 to 25 clients a day at their Carmel location — the only one owned by the company.
Elite athletes swear by cryotherapy including Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Davis Love and Jordan Spieth. The Dallas Mavericks basketball team, the “Dancing with the Stars” cast and best-selling author/motivational guru Tony Robbins have their own cryosaunas. Members of the San Jose Sharks ice hockey team and San Francisco 49ers football team frequent the San Jose franchise location. The Scarletts themselves partake four to five times a week.
“Once you experience the increased energy, better sleep, metabolic boost, and the rush of endorphins, you will want to make Cryo a part of your lifestyle,” the Scarletts wrote on their company’s website, GlaceCryotherapy.com. “During each session, the body releases endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel good and energetic. The mood-enhancing effects from each session can last for days.”