Like the founders of many innovative companies, Karen Larson and her husband started Soake Pools in 2014 to invent the product they were looking for. The New Hampshire-based couple were seeking an affordable, attractive, concrete plunge pool—a small pool designed for lounging instead of swimming.
The search soon led them to an entrepreneurial idea.
“There was no such thing that existed that was concrete, beautifully tiled, and in the price range that we’re now offering,” says Larson. “The idea was to work with some engineers to create the product and install it in our own yard to prove the concept. And then, if it was successful we could market it and make a business. Which is what we did.”
The couple decided to cast the pools out of concrete in a central facility, a method that no one else in the country is currently using to produce swimming pools. Typically, concrete swimming pools are constructed by pouring concrete on-site. Other types of pre-fab pools are usually made of lighter materials such as fiberglass or vinyl liner. But due to plunge pools’ compact size, the pre-cast forms can be easily transported on flatbed trucks to customers’ homes all over the country.
Creating pools this way keeps costs down substantially, with Soake Pools’ cost equal to about half the price tag of a conventional in-ground concrete pool. Plunge pools also keep water bills and maintenance costs down, as they use about 90 percent less water than large pools and cost much less to maintain despite year-round use.
Soake Pools also finishes its pools before shipping, covering the entire inside with porcelain tile, installing pipes for plumbing, and assembling the digital panel that allows users to control the pool’s temperature and lighting remotely. While the standard model is a set size and price (7’ x 13’ and 5’ deep, $21,750), each is made to order so they can be customized in a number of ways, from dimensions to tile color to equipment such as spa jets for extra cost.
Larson works closely with customers to ensure that the installation process goes smoothly, helping arrange for local subcontractors to dig a hole of the right size and prepare it to receive the pool, get the pool installed and plumbed, and then help finish the top portion and surroundings in whichever way the homeowner desires. The whole installation process can take just a few days—a fraction of the time it costs to install a conventional pool. The process is an intensive collaboration with subcontractors and homeowners to ensure that everything is taken care of.
“We’re working with them every step of the way,” says Larson. “We really want to make sure it goes well.”
And so far, it certainly has. The company is growing steadily, with more and more people recognizing the utility of a pool that splits the difference between a traditional swimming pool and a spa. Soake pools can be used year-round, as they can be cool in the summer and hot in the winter, reaching a typical hot tub temperature of 104 degrees.
“We love when people say, ‘We didn’t really want a pool, but we didn’t really want a hot tub,’” reflects Larson. “They find this to be a hybrid of the two.”
Larson herself enjoys the wintertime soaking option that the pool provides: “I love a mild winter night looking at the stars because it’s a whole different way to experience winter.”
These pools also give homeowners a whole new option for beautifying a backyard. The concrete construction means the pools have a permanent, custom look, and the interior entirely lined with tile lends a luxurious spa-like feel. Customers can make the pool’s top flush with the ground or raise it above ground as much as they’d like, finishing the exterior with wood, stone, or other materials. The options are as varied as homeowners’ creativity.
“I think the aesthetics of a pool like ours enhance the backyard and blend with the landscape,” says Larson. “This can become a focal point of the backyard.”
In the four years since Soake Pools’ founding, Larson and her husband have found many customers as eager as they were to find a backyard-pool solution that is good-looking, affordable, well-made, and versatile.
“I really enjoy hearing from our customers how much they’re enjoying their pools,” says Larson. “We’ve made this product available at a price point that is very attractive, and I love knowing that people are enjoying it and that we’re enhancing their lifestyle and their outdoor living space.”
And when she heads home from the office, her own Soake pool is waiting, proving the concept every day.