Personalisation. Sustainability. Innovation. Independence. Diversity. The five big reasons behind the whole effort.
Written by Rohan, creator of buddhify
Since launched new buddhify at the start of the year, the last two months have been busy ones of bug fixes, refinement and settling the app down so that we can go into our next phase of new developments with a solid foundation. And with so much activity, jumping from every new issue to solve and every new opportunity to chase up, it is always helpful – both for me and the wider team – to remember why we made new buddhify in the first place. It helps keep me grounded and gives me the energy that working on a project like this really does need.
And while I could list all sorts of different answers to why we made the new buddhify, ultimately they boil down to five.
The whole point of buddhify is personalisation. It is the idea at its heart, the essence of the thing. Our now well-known emphasis on presenting meditation whatever you are and whatever you’re doing is all about helping people blend mindfulness into their life in as personal a way as possible. The limitation however in the legacy version of buddhify was that everyone had the same wheel. And as good as it was, given that everyone’s life is so different, the natural evolution for buddhify was to allow people to personalise the meditation content they had available to them while still retaining the much-loved colour wheel interface. The most important person in buddhify is the person who uses it and for them to get the most value out of the app, they have to feel like it is truly their own.
When I first started buddhify it was a side project. That side project then became a business. When I first started buddhify, the mindfulness app market was tiny. That market has now become much bigger and much busier. And while we’re probably the most successful self-funded bootstrapped mindfulness app around, the truth is that the other apps in the market have so many more resources than us that it is a struggle to break even let alone grow. New buddhify is therefore a really important investment from us to lay the foundation for us to go to the next level. Call me romantic, but I want to live in a world where popular, high-impact mindfulness apps can be made by values-led family businesses, not just heavily-invested companies based in California. The challenge is growing the revenue from the app, and thereby growing the company while retaining its personality and its heart.
The purpose of a good meditation app is to get you to the point where you no longer need a meditation app. This belief is absolutely fundamental to what we do and why buddhify hasn’t followed the crowd and set up as a monthly subscription service. Because when you run a monthly subscription services work, your job becomes doing everything you can to keep users stuck in your system. But that’s not what buddhify wants to do. Our ambition is that the people who use our app become creative independent meditators, skilled enough to stitch mindfulness into all parts of their lives. So expect to see new content coming soon which enable you to do that. Independence also means independence for us as a company. The longer we can continue to grow and do so under our own steam, the more independence we have to take creative risks and be different.
When I first made buddhify back in 2011, it was largely motivated by my feeling that most other mindfulness apps at the time were boring. So buddhify was designed to be a breath of fresh air, colourful, vibrant, playful, different, while still being effective. Today, there are many more mindfulness apps that are well designed and have good content but they still have problems, it’s just a different set of problems. An overemphasis on guided audio instructions which take power away from the user. The narrowing of meditation to being something you only really do by yourself. A cookie cutter approach to business models. We made new buddhify to double down on being different and to show that yes, it is possible to be creative, be effective and be successful.
Diversity is something that is very important to us. Not only does having a diverse team make a better product, it also means that people who use our app will have a better chance of seeing themselves represented. That really matters. Perhaps today more than ever. While I know that the leadership of other mindfulness products are doing good work to do better, it is still a fact that the majority of successful apps are made and managed largely by men in a market where the audience often skews female. Then there is the mindfulness teacher community which does well on gender balance but not so well on ethnic balance. Like so many walks of life, these are systemic issues and not something that can be necessarily solved overnight. But as a the makers of a highly regarded app in this space, we recognise that we have a responsibility to model the change. That is why our core team is gender balanced and perhaps most importantly our roster of 14 teachers/voices is 60% female and 35% people of colour.
We still have many blind-spots of course but as we grow we hope to continue to do so in such a way that the diversity of our people match the diversity of our community. Because ultimately they are the same thing. So do tell us how we can do better. And we’ll keep doing what we can to ensure that globalised mindfulness isn’t only something that is presented and perceived for affluent, white Western audiences. Because the more people who learn mindfulness, the more mindfulness itself will evolve and change and ultimately, become as relevant as it needs to be in today’s world.
The next year is going to be a big one here with the team. We are working on a series of further developments to the app all of which look to support our wish to be more personal, sustainable, independent, innovative, and diverse. And we do it all in service of you, our users. And so whenever you feel we could be doing more then let us know. At its best, buddhify is a living thing, an expression of our understanding of mindfulness, embodied and realised in your practice and your insights. So let’s keep the conversation flowing and thank you for supporting us get to where we are today. And here’s to many more adventures in the future!