Denver IV therapy chain injects new life into business by franchising

Hydrate IV Bar plans to open 10 franchise locations before the end of 2021. (Photos courtesy of Hydrate IV Bar)

Hydrate IV Bar wants to offer relief for hangovers around the nation.

The Denver-based IV therapy chain, which has four corporate locations in the area and one in Boulder, has begun franchising, with its first franchisee opening in Fort Collins earlier this month.

The new location is one of 10 that the brand expects to open by the end of 2021. Another lease has also been signed for a franchise location in Arcadia, Arizona.

“Clients were interested in becoming a part of the business and opening a location outside of Colorado,” Wafer said. “It’s something we’ve had in the back of our mind, but the timing was important to find the right partners.”

IV therapy businesses generally hook customers to an IV that drips varying mixtures of saline, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants directly into the bloodstream. The concoctions are typically marketed as benefiting those with maladies such as a hangover or altitude sickness, or simply individuals in need of a boost.

Hydrate was founded by Denver native Katie Wafer in 2016. She worked in medical sales and was a Denver Broncos cheerleader before she realized that Denver did not have any of the IV therapy businesses she enjoyed in other cities.

Hydrate’s cocktail-style menu offers services for illness, wellness, recovery and beauty, with a range of injections, which start at $30, to IVs, which start at $69. The company also offers a monthly membership.

Partners Amy Dickerson, her husband Chad Grote and Hydrate IV Bar founder Katie Wafer.

Wafer has teamed up with friend Amy Dickerson and her husband Chad Grote to scale the brand nationally. Dickerson and Wafer met through their local chamber of commerce and eventually partnered to open a Hydrate IV Bar inside of Dickerson’s spa, Live Love Lash, in 2019, and Grote has decades of experience in construction.

“Taking something to this level can be scary and lonely, so it just fit after a lot of long talks that we would go in with her and do it together and work as a team,” Dickerson said. “I have been in small business for 15 years and my husband has been in the construction industry for his entire life and can help franchisees navigate the space.”

The trio own Hydrate’s corporate location in Cherry Creek, and Wafer owns the rest in Bonnie Brae, The Highlands, Boulder and the Highland’s Nurture complex.

To launch their franchise program, the team brought on franchise consulting company redC Business Advocacy. The company’s founders, Brendan Charles and Blair Ramsing, who were also members of Hydrate, signed on as the spa’s first franchise owners for the Fort Collins location.

The total investment needed to open a Hydrate franchise is dependent on location, ranging between $150,000 and $200,000, Wafer and Dickerson said. Each franchise location must be at least 1,000 square feet and requires a team of registered nurses to administer the IVs.

Since reopening in June after the statewide shutdown, Dickerson and Wafer said the company has seen a steady increase in revenue month-to-month. They’ve also had an average of 72 new clients a week.

“For us, this has been a proven business model over the years in terms of customer satisfaction and also profitability,” Wafer said. “Especially given the circumstances with COVID when our business shut down, we’ve proved we can make it with our strong membership base. We have built a very loyal clientele that are here to support us.”

She added, “Also the health and wellness industry is top of mind. People are investing in their health and paying attention to how they feel and their immunity, and they’re practicing self-care.”

Other IV hydration franchise brands around the country include Texas-based iV Bars, California-based The Hydration Room, Rhode-Island based The Drip Bar and Kansas-based IV Nutrition.

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