Laser FocusedJan 18, 2024 11:19AM ● By Holly McAtee
When you talk to many entrepreneurs, there is often one fateful event that changed the course of their career path. This was the case with Shikhar Saxena, CEO and co-founder of Milan Laser Hair Removal.
Saxena attended Creighton Prep, where he met Abe Schumacher at tennis tryouts. The two didn’t make the team, but they became great friends. They remained close over the years, and both became board certified physicians.
One day Saxena was working in his Papillion Urgent Care when the doctor from Milan Laser Aesthetics stopped into the clinic and asked him if he wanted to buy the business. At the time, purchasing the aesthetics company was a big step to take on his own, so Saxena called Schumacher to ask if he wanted to partner in this new venture. Schumacher agreed, and they bought the location in 2012.
This small stroke of fate set them on a different life trajectory.
There were growing pains in the beginning. “It took us a while to learn the business. There were four employees: two were Abe and me. We did every job, including the treatments,” Saxena said. “Abe coded our first website. We created the protocol.”
Being focused on just one service has made them an industry leader. “We were incredibly big on customer service, and we found that other services didn’t have high customer ratings. So, we focused on laser hair removal,” Saxena explained.
“I’m a strong believer in doing one thing and doing it well. When you have multiple services, you are a Jack of all trades and the master of none,” he added.
Providing only one service to clients has made them successful in their field. For example, Schumacher and Saxena designed a membership with unlimited treatments for one price. Most of their competitors sold between three and six treatment packages. Milan Laser provides as many treatments as clients need for that flat rate.
Saxena is proud of Milan Laser’s core values. The company works to satisfy customers with world-class customer service.
The vision is to be one of the best laser hair removal companies in the world. Milan Laser is on track to achieve that goal with an explosion of growth in recent years. In 2017, Saxena left his full-time cardiology practice. That year, the company hired Colleen Papek as chief operations officer. Now president of Milan Laser, she said, “As we grow rapidly, we move fast, so you must have a team that moves successfully. Collaboration and trust are critical to our growth.”
By 2019, seven years after Schumacher and Saxena purchased the business, Milan Laser had grown to 50 locations. Today, there are 300 in 31 states totalling 1,900 employees. All clinics are company owned, and employees are trained from their Omaha headquarters. The goal for the next 10 years is to have a total of 1,000 locations with a presence in every state.
Bettia Williamson, Milan Laser’s senior brand strategist, said that Saxena believes in and cares about his people. During the pandemic, all locations had to close. Not one employee lost their job—or a paycheck. “As a single mom, that meant so much to me,” Williamson said. “To not have to worry about anything—it showed that our CEO really cared.”
Saxena’s passion for his purpose and people has helped the company become the powerhouse that it is today. Yet even with the expansion, he still fosters a personal connection with his employees. “I love working at Milan. Even though I’m the co-founder, I come in to work as an employee,” Saxena said. “I just got done playing a doubles ping pong game with coworkers. One of our core values is fun. We work hard, but we have a great time.”
Saxena is proud that Milan Laser is headquartered in Omaha. “This city is where I grew up. It’s where I met my wife and raised my four kids. Omaha has given me everything; building a business and giving back to this city is important.”
For more information on Milan Laser Hair Removal, go to milanlaser.com.