Bridging Mindfulness and ‘AWARE’ness- Exclusive Interview of Founder of ‘Aware’ – Mr Avinash Saurabh

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When did you last spend sometime in meditating and relaxing each nerve of your body? Also, how easy do you find mindful meditation a convenient option and do you think you possess enough patience to do self-meditation with full perfection? Maybe you have tried mindfulness meditation on your own, but you find hard to stick to it. 

There are tons of meditation apps already available on the market. While many of them use meditation as a religious practice some have rightly tried to separate meditation from religion but have not been fairly successful. There was a need to approach the ancient practice of meditation differently that could be acceptable and be relatable to everyone. But not everyone can easily make meditation a natural part of their life. This is where technology steps in.

Aware, an app based meditation spree packages the scientifically proven ancient practice of mindfulness & meditation in a way that is easily accessible and affordable. It teaches basics of mindfulness in just 10 minutes a day and then provides guided sessions in the form of courses, masterclasses, and singles on specific issues over a wide range of categories.

What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name? 

Ans: The name of my venture is ‘Aware’. Aware is a mindfulness & meditation app helping people shape healthier, happier lives. It provides guided sessions to relieve stress & anxiety, enhance focus & productivity, sleep better and much more. The fundamental objective of mindfulness is achieving equanimity which comes from being aware of the present moment. It is all about awareness of what’s happening in and around us. That was the rationale behind naming it Aware to position it as a friend that will help one to be mindful.

Who is your target Audience/clients? 

Ans: Our target audience is working professionals & students in the age group of 22-44 who use digital services.

Where is your venture based (city, state, country) out of and what are your geographical target areas? 

Ans: Founded in 2017, AWARE is a Bangalore based mindfulness trainer startup. Our geographical target areas include urban cities of India.

What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services? 

Ans: Mental health issues like stress, anxiety, lack of focus, impatience, insomnia have become a phenomenon cutting across all kinds of demographics. So much so that, mental health has become an area of concern for everyone. Aware packages the scientifically proven ancient practice of mindfulness & meditation in a way that is easily accessible and affordable. It teaches basics of mindfulness in just 10 minutes a day and then provides guided sessions in the form of courses, masterclasses, and singles on specific issues over a wide range of categories.

Aware is a mobile application available on almost all platforms for all kinds of devices. We have one of the largest libraries of guided sessions with more than 30 courses and 50 single sessions in the app on a wide range of categories with new content being released every month.

Content Categories –

  • Basics: Courses to teach the basics of mindfulness. They include our Foundation Course, Mindful Living and single sessions on sleep, waking up, relaxation and more.
  • Health: From stress, anxiety, depression to sleep, pain, weight loss, panic attack and more.
  • Performance: From courses on focus, creativity, self-esteem, motivation, patience to single sessions on work break, finding inspiration and more.
  • Happiness: From courses on relationship, happiness, balance to single sessions on gratitude, kindness and more.
  • Sports: We have courses that cover every aspect of a sportsman’s life, from training to recovery to concentration and more.
  • Women: We have courses on pregnancy and single sessions to manage pre-natal difficulties.
  • Student: From exam to concentration to homesickness, we have covered every aspect of a student’s life.

Our AI driven platform helps users achieve behavior change and attain happiness in a sustainable manner by practicing mindfulness via the above courses based on mental awareness and mindfulness in the Android and iOS applications. These courses are user friendly, easy to get started with and can be practiced from anywhere (for instance while traveling, at workplace, at home etc.). The courses curated are such that they can be practiced without having to invest too much time on them.

Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come to existence? What motivated you to start your own venture? 

Ans: The idea originated from my own personal experience when, 3 years back, we had raised one million USD for my previous venture which was incubated at IIM Bangalore. While the investment was an important milestone and a happy moment for us, it also made me a bit anxious and stressed. I started doubting myself – asking questions like “What if I fail?”, “What if we are not able to build a successful company?”. It was then that I started practicing mindfulness. As I built the habit, my stress and anxieties disappeared. Over time I also realized that beyond the surface level benefit of reduced stress and anxiety, mindfulness helped me be calmer and centred in my life. So at that time, almost 3 years ago, I made a promise to myself that whenever I start my next venture, it will be about helping as many people as possible to experience the same benefits. Earlier this year, post a successful exit from my last venture, it was time to keep that promise and so we started Aware.

Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them? 

Ans: In India we have not seen much competition, although there are few mindfulness apps in the international market that we really respect like Headspace, Calm, Simple habit and Insight timer. However, all of these apps are focused on differentiating themselves by refining the content – their courses, voice quality etc. We believe that this is losing strategy in the long run. Mindfulness is a two thousand year old practice and most of the exercises and teachings are already well defined and open to all. So there is a limit to how much one can innovate by improving voice and video quality.

The real problem with mindfulness is not that we don’t have good content or teachers rather that it’s really difficult to form a habit and integrate it in daily live. It requires patience and practice and most quit within few weeks. This is where we are differentiating ourselves – by using technology as an enabler to help users form the daily habit. We have built machine learning based assistive tool and daily practice guides that help users inculcate the practice as a habit.

How did you hire your first team members? What skills do you want in your employees/team? 

After making a successful exit from my first venture, Zoojoobe, I identified people who are really passionate about what they do. That is the only thing I have always been looking for in people to work with. I was confident that the impact Aware would make in people’s lives would naturally inspire the team and identify themselves with the cause and I have been right. the team at Aware are a bunch of people who believe in this idea and are totally committed to it.

What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?

Currently, we have a product in the form of Aware that is loved by our users which made us one of the highest rated meditation apps on app stores. And with such a product, our plan right now is to reach out to a wide audience across the globe.

Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years? 

In the next 10 years, I want to see myself to have a lead a team of people who have impacted billions of lives across the globe. Our mission statement is to measurably improving happiness in the world and I want to make it a reality in the coming few years.

What are goals for upcoming years? 

My plan for the next 16-18 months is to focus on the customization and add new specific courses in the application. Also, to have content of the courses in Hindi which will attract and connect with our India audience.

Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding? 

Yes, we have raised fund recently.

What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them? 

I would not say they were problems, instead challenges that I was aware of when we started. Since Aware is a very content-driven application, the first challenge was to build mindfulness content that would be valuable for users.

We spent almost a year researching and learning everything about mindfulness & meditation. We onboarded mindfulness and behaviour science experts in our team. We attended multiple workshops and tried to understand how mindfulness can be delivered as easily as possible keeping it as effective as ever. We drafted our first course – the Foundation course which went through multiple rounds of reviewing. We released the course in a beta application and with the feedback from our early users, we improved upon the course. Since then, we have released more than 30 courses and 50 singles in the app and we have been very successful in creating content that thousands of people find valuable.

What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges? 

The most challenging part of the journey has been acquiring new users. When we started, we didn’t have a huge bank balance to spend on advertisements and hence we depended on organic channels. We invested immensely in building small communities, both online and offline. We got on ground and interacted with as many people as we could. That us helped us acquire very loyal users who spread the word for us, and within a year, without investing much on advertisements, we have more than 500,000 users to day using the app.

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time? 

I meditate for 30 minutes every day and spend most of my non-work time in reading.

Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator? 

I have always believed just like a sportsman needs a coach to perform well, we all need to have a coach who can guide us every now and then and motivate us to be on the right path. I have been very fortunate to find multiple coaches who have nurtured me to grow as an entrepreneur and reach the place where I am. They include my early investors and family who stood by me throughout the journey.

What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else? 

If you’re a passionate about what you do, there’s not much difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else. It all comes down to being excited and content with the work you do. Some find that excitement in doing something of their own while others find it the work that a company does.

If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently? 

I don’t think I would do anything differently because whatever I have done in the past has brought me here, where I am excited about every single day. More importantly, there’s not much help looking back. I am a big believer of the present moment and if we all could utilise the moment we have right now to its full potential, the past would be irrelevant.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & social life? 

Yes, I find less time to be with my family and friends and that is why family and friends play a big role in the journey of an entrepreneur. They need to be equally patient and invested in the journey. I have been very fortunate in that way. Though, off late, I have decided to spend my weekends with my family because it is a very rewarding experience and essential for one’s wellness.

Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs? 

3 things. Be passionate about the work you do; make best use of the present moment; and keep aside time to reflect.

Tell us something about your education & family background. 

I have grown up in a middle-class family in Patna, Bihar and I graduated from Manipal Institute of Technology, Sikkim in Electronics & Communications.

What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains. 

As I said earlier, the real problem with mindfulness is not that we don’t have good content or teachers rather that it’s really difficult to form a habit and integrate it in daily live. It requires patience and practice and most quit within few weeks. This is where we are differentiating ourselves – by using technology as an enabler to help users form the daily habit. We have built machine learning based assistive tool and daily practice guides that help users inculcate the practice as a habit. Our USP lies in helping people forming a habit of meditating daily.

What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today? 

The biggest threat that I see today is breakneck competition. Small businesses & start-ups need to grow very fast and keep innovating before someone else takes you over. The key to fighting this challenge is finding product-market fit as quickly as possible. That gives you the time to invest on strategies to accelerate.

Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success? 

I don’t think success is a destination, but an ongoing journey. It all comes down to being passionate and content with the work you do every day. That is the only measure of success.

Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person 

Name of the company: Limnea Technologies Pvt Ltd

Name of the app: Aware

Email address : [email protected]

Website: https://awaremeditationapp.com/

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