14 Sep Interview with Nawfel Oussedik: Polaris CEO & Founder
1. What brought about your interest in Cryotherapy? How did you come up with the idea of Polaris with your business partners?
I tried cryotherapy for the first time in New York to fight my jet lag and I was surprised to see the results were immediate. Then I tried cryotherapy in London and Dubai, also with positive results. When I moved to Hong Kong a few years ago, I realised there was no cryotherapy service in Hong Kong so that sparked my interest to start the business.
As a result, the idea of Polaris came about in September 2015, and took about 6 months to become operational. I had some prior experience running a medical service back in my hometown, so I was able to get funding from the same investor to start this in Hong Kong.
2. Are they any differences in cryotherapy services in Hong Kong compared to other countries? Are there any additional challenges in Hong Kong?
The most difficult part is marketing the product and getting early adopters, as this is a completely new service in this area. Logistically, there are a lot of regulations for nitrogen and costs are very steep, so that makes it difficult too.
3. What are the different types of cryotherapy services offered at Polaris?
We now categorise our business into different uses such as: pain relief, inflammation, tightening for beauty purposes, recovery and athlete performance, and reduction of swelling. For each of these uses, Polaris can provide whole body or localised treatments.
4. Why does Cryotherapy attract so many people? How is it different from other forms of treatment that has brought about its popularity amongst mainstream beauty and therapy treatments?
Cryotherapy offers very effective pain management and pain relief. People with medical conditions can come to us to feel better. In some cases, we have noticed immediate improvements. Although it’s not like medicine to solve the cause of the issue, clients are still able to manage the pain thoroughly. People also come to us without any medical problems, because cryotherapy helps them to feel happier or to sleep better as the treatment increases the release of serotonin in the brain. To get these benefits, each treatment only takes 3 minutes for a full body sauna and up to 10 minutes for localised treatments on a specific body part. This is most ideal for very fast-paced lifestyles and we are lucky to be the first and only cryotherapy centre in Hong Kong.
5. Are there certain demographics who prefer to use this treatment?
Not really, there is a wide range in our clientele, from the age of 16 and all the way to 69. The 16-year-old comes in for sports recovery because he’s in a national hockey team, whereas the 69-year-old wants to reduce general inflammation and pain.
6. Is there a certain age that Cryotherapy is most suitable for?
Not really, people of all ages can come in and work on their problems. Recently, we had a patient who had arthritis since the age of 22 and wanted help with some pain management.
7. Out of all the amazing testimonials Polaris has received, is there one that you remember the most?
The famous chef Harlan Goldstein came in for a full body sauna, and it was amazing to see that his body stiffness got better right after the treatment.
We also have a client who has fibromyalgia. He has been suffering with intense pain for the past 4 years, so he came in to try cryotherapy. It was amazing to see that right after the session, his results were so dramatic that he stood there for a while without moving, totally in shock because he suddenly felt pain-free. He had forgotten what it was like to be without pain.
8. How do you manage questions about Cryotherapy, being the first to offer this treatment in Hong Kong?
It is hard because Polaris is very new and the results can be subjective. We reach out with sponsorships, events and educational campaigns to encourage people to come in and try our service and then see the benefits for themselves. Eventually, I hope exposure and education through our marketing campaigns will help Hong Kong residents became aware of the benefits of cryotherapy.
9. What is your vision for Polaris or Cryotherapy in general, within Hong Kong?
We hope to attract more locals to come and use our services. Hong Kong is an ageing society and thus pain management is a huge issue. To offer our patients a more holistic treatment, we now provide physical assessments by our in-house Sports Therapist to help diagnose symptoms and give a better treatment plan. We are very happy to be working with Philippa Stewart from SPI ProHealth in this area, she will act as an advisor to Polaris and our Sports Therapist.
10. Are there any expansion plans into other cities in Asia?
As for Polaris’ expansion plans, we are about to open a new clinic in Central, Hong Kong to attract a bigger clientele. We are also looking to expand the services we offer, for example, we want to offer breast lifting as it is a very big part of cryotherapy in Europe. So we have just started to scratch the surface of the usage and benefits of cryotherapy.
Polaris CEO Nawfel Oussedik hosting an event for sports talents, olympians and Hong Kong celebrities and movie stars on 31 August 2016.
SPI ProHealth Sports Therapist Max Yeung explaining how cryotherapy works to Hong Kong celebrity action star Simon Yam and kite surfing legend Ken Wong.
SPI ProHealth Sports Therapist Max Yeung and Polaris in-house Sports Therapist Tammy Wong ready to conduct physio assessments at Polaris celebrity events.