Founder story

From tech to therapy

“My whole intention with Self® is to bring people more into their bodies. To feel more alive. To be more at ease. No matter which body type or religion they have. It is a concept with inclusivity and diversity at its very heart.”

Julian Jorgensen Self massage robotics
Julian Jorgensen

Despite 20 years of personal-growth work, Julian still suffered from frequent depressions.

While attending a shamanic leadership training a few years ago, he had a major awakening through the body. His depression literally vanquished overnight, and have never returned. From that day onwards he made a pledge to always prioritize his body.

Julian Jorgensens first massage chair

The massage chair.

Being 195cm tall Julian was always susceptible to neck and back pain. The pain was made worse by a long 20-year digital career. In early-2021 he bought the best massage chair he could find in Denmark.

Once installed, it added a lot of fun... for some months... Then it became boring, monotonous, and never quite solved the initial pain. The chair started collecting dust.

Then, on a fateful day, Julian's brother Jimmy paid a visit. Curiosity led Jimmy to try the chair, and to their shared realization, it seemed to amplify discomfort rather than provide solace. Questions lingered about why the chair wasn't interconnected with the cloud, sharing and receiving data with its counterparts.

Jimmy, a co-founder of Nordbo Robotics for the past eight years, had pioneered technology that seamlessly translated human craftsmanship into robotic precision. With renowned clients like Apple and Meta, the impact of their innovation resonated across the manufacturing industry. Ironically, this proven technology could potentially revolutionize the realm of massage.

On a magical Christmas evening, the brothers strolled past a tanning salon in Odense, the epicenter of robotics. In a spontaneous moment, they envisioned massage robots tirelessly working 24/7, delivering unparalleled, high-quality massages to those in need.

Julian and Jimmy Jorgensen and prototype massage robotSelf logo

Self® massage + robotics.

The brothers embarked on a journey to craft the perfect massage technology from the ground up, completely overhauling the antiquated chair.

In a bold move, they determined that the conventional horizontal position held unparalleled advantages for a myriad of reasons. Swiftly, they dove into experimenting with a diverse array of massage styles.

After months filled with countless iterations, they finally struck upon a style that resonated with the majority of individuals.

They hired Erik who worked worked on further developing the software. After 7 months the product reached a level of maturity suitable for market feedback. It was unveiled at a fitness center in Copenhagen.

Little did they know that they had introduced the world's first massage robot to the public in a business-to-consumer setting. Additionally, it marked the inaugural deployment of a massage robot in a fitness center.

From its very inception, the venture proved to be an extraordinary success. The utilization rate soared, surpassing an impressive 50% in no time.

Julian and Jimmy Jorgensen and prototype massage robotJulian and Jimmy Jorgensen and prototype massage robot

Søren and Erik joins as co-founders.

Sent from the angels, Søren joins as a large shareholder and co-founder. He immediately creates order, structure and becomes hands-in with the product development.

Simultaneously, Erik, having dedicated extensive hours to the cause, is not just an employee; he's a true believer in the project. Erik converts a substantial portion of his salary into equity.

“My drive is to create products that make a difference for people. I have seen how much difference just 1 robot can create. Imagine how much impact 100s of robots will create.”

Søren Theodorsen Self massage robotics
Søren Theodorsen

The core product team was now established. Jimmy as the robotics architect, Søren as the product and operation lead, Erik as the robotics software engineer, and finally Julian overlooking the entire web systems (booking, payment, website).

It was a dream team. It was a dream product. Clients loved it. But...

Julian Jorgensen fundraising for Self massage robotics

Near bankruptcy. Hard work.

Raising funds to any new startup in 2023 was hard. Especially within deep-tech, and not to mention a whole new market that nobody knew anything about.

When we first conceived the idea of massage robots, we'd never heard of anyone else doing something similar. Only months later did we learn 3 other players in the world were having similar thoughts (in France, America and Singapore).

These competitors had been entrenched in research and development for over 6 years, and had raised millions of dollars. The American counterpart, in particular, had amassed funding 300 times our own. When they launch in 2024, their product will be an $80 million massage experience.

Meanwhile in Denmark, our devoted team of three, though technically stretched to the equivalent of ten, poured their hearts into the project, clocking over 80 hours weekly.

Remarkably, we managed to develop a secure, stable, and high-quality robot on a budget less than $250k in total. This encompassed a spectrum of components—data infrastructure, web interfaces, payment systems, user management, monitoring, alerts, hardware, sensors, AI, machine learning, compliance, patenting, freedom-to-operate reports, cameras, salaries, legal fees, consultants, and much more.

The sacrifices made to fund this dream were immense. Julian liquidated all personal belongings, parting with his motorbike and house. Simultaneously, Søren invested not just his savings but went beyond.

Then, again, as sent from the angels, Jan Christmann joined as investor, board member and fundraiser.

Julian Jorgensen fundraising for Self massage robotics

v1.0 🎉🦾💆🏽

Using the funds from the investors, we were able to complete v1. People from the fitness centre can now, at all times of the day, check-in autonomously. The robot is safe, stable and easy to use. Most importantly it puts a big smile on everybody who tries it.