A Christmas wish from the creator of buddhify

One month since the launch of the app, buddhify creator Rohan Gunatillake shares some thoughts on the story so far and where it might go next:

When I came up the name buddhify one morning on a meditation retreat back in January I realised it was the perfect name for a mobile meditation app I’d been thinking about for a while.  So I made a fairly odd vow to myself – to not go on any retreats at all that year (I had spent much time each year since 2005 on formal retreats) and instead make this idea called buddhify a reality by the time 2011 out.  And having launched buddhify back on November 3rd, we got there with two months to spare :)

buddhify was a big risk…and for two main reasons.  Firstly, I have a day job..actually I have a couple and all on a freelance basis.  Therefore all the time spent on the app was either evenings and weekends or time I could have been working for clients and therefore I was by definition losing a whack of money.  And on the subject of money, the build of the app was entirely self-funded so I spent pretty much £10,000 of my own money to get buddhify out there.  That’s a lot of money for a lot of people and it’s a lot of money for me.  I did raise $4500 for app marketing through a crowdfunding campaign to help it along but that was more the icing on the cake of a big financial commitment on my part.

Ok let’s put away the violins…enough about my personal risk.  The more interesting risk is that I was making a product where there wasn’t a market.  Smart, user-centred modern meditation just wasn’t a thing before buddhify so the project is as much about making a market as it is about making an app.  Any smart business advisor out there would say that the best businesses cater for well articulated markets…and that is of course true.  But as an entrepreneur in the space of modern 21st century meditation for audience who haven’t maybe tried anything like meditation before, a well articulated market is a luxury.  So we made the gamble that countless entrepreneurs have made before…put a product out there which we passionately believed was not only a very good product but there’d also be a market for…based purely on instinct rather than any formal research.

And it worked.

It’s only been a month and so still it’s very new but all the evidence we *do* have is that the world is interested and wants more products and services in the space where wisdom, technology and people meet.  And in just a few weeks I think I can back that up with three types of evidence.

Why buddhify points to a brand new market

Exhibit A | The sales 
buddhify has sold thousands of units on iOS and Android.  It’s not quite Angry Birds but the fact is that buddhify has reached our original 6 months sales target in just 1…a massive result.  Being a software project and a budget where we couldn’t do as much testing as we’d have wanted to, there were some minor tech issues which are now fixed but probably led to a dip in sales while we sorted them out so they could have been even better.  Sales are now settling down nicely and we’re confident of breaking even quite soon and way way before our forecasts.

Exhibit B | The press
We have been blown away by the level of press & media coverage buddhify has received – if a £10k app has ever punched above its weight then this is surely it?  The biggest features have been by lifehacker, Reuters International, the Guardian, The Times, The Herald (Scotland) and the UK’s number 1 selling newspaper The Sun named it the #1 Health app for busy city workers.

Exhibit C | The user feedback
I’ve put this third here but this is the big one for us – the one that means the most.  We have had so many messages via Twitter, email, facebook and in person from people who are using buddhify and are loving it.  Some of the messages have been so amazing we’ve literally been stopped in our tracks and have had to sit down and just realise what it is we have done.  buddhify is an amazingly intimate app, working with your attention to improve wellbeing and we thought it was pretty good but we never realised that it could actually for some people be genuinely transformative.  Imagine you made a product that made people say things like this and what it would make you feel in your body and your mind:

And that’s why we have to do more.  We want to make more work in this space and you should too.  Because it creates a direct connection between technology and what really matters to people.  How many apps do you know that have made a material improvement to someone’s life?  Exactly…we have to make more.

When I vowed to make buddhify in 2011 it took a lot of effort from both myself and the wonderfully talented team I flocked around the project.  But all that effort is worthwhile just for making the life better of one young mother in Wisconsin…and there’s so many more besides.

Connect the talent to the resources

We want to do much more work in this area, because a) the work is needed and b) we might well have the talent, network and experience to make a material different to people’s wellbeing worldwide.  If we could make buddhify on £10k and my spare time, imagine what could come out of some proper investment and dedicated time?

I’ve spoken before and elsewhere about the need to connecting the people who can make a difference with the people and institutions with significant resources.  A whole bunch of small self-funded projects like buddhify would be nice but what will really make change happen is proper investment and infrastructure for the small community of people who both natively understand meditation/wisdom practice and 21st century technology and user needs.

So my Christmas wish and indeed vow for 2012 is to find them.  To find the people with resources who are interested in growing what we’ve started with buddhify into something more mature, more expansive and while retaining the qualities that make buddhify stand out more impactful.

And if you can help at all you’re most welcome to :)


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