This Week In Startups #868 Calm cofounder Alex Tew
|David Senra||Nov 4, 2018|
When did you have the idea for the million-dollar home page? It was a web site I made in 2005 with the sole purpose of making me a million dollars. I was broke and about to start university. I came up with the idea late at night: What if I sold a million pixels of advertising space for $1 each. In 4 months I sold out the page. 3,000 ads. . .The real value wasn’t the million dollars in the long run. It was all the connections and learnings from it.
It took years to get the domain: The person that owned it wanted $1 million. We paid $140,000. It took several years before he finally decided to accept my offer.
How did you know a meditation app could grow into a business so early? Meditation apps are popular now. Calm started before them all. What did you see so clearly before everyone else? It actually was just a personal interest. I thought if I’m interested in this and if mediation is benefiting me, then other people would benefit too. I began thinking about how can I get more people into this?
Scratch your own itch: Calm is the product I wish existed when I was learning to meditate. I had to learn from books, poorly made recordings, going into strange places.
The problem Calm solves: Calm wants to make people more calm, less stressed, less anxious, happier, healthier and we can do that by teaching people these skills.
Technology is not inherently negative. It’s what we are using it for: It turns out you have the smartest minds in Silicon Valley thinking about how to take more of your attention. There needs to be a counter balance.
A blessing in disguise: The struggle to raise money was great. That constraint on capital meant we had to be really efficient. We could not spend money wildly.
Most companies are charging too little: Marc Andreessen’s number one advice is to raise prices. Calm started out charging $10 a year. Calm was underpriced. When we raised the price to $40 a year our revenues skyrocketed.
Sales growth: In 2014 Calm did a few hundred grand in revenue. 2015 $2.3 million. 2016 $7 million. 2017 $22 million. 2018 $80 million.
The ultimate goal: Nike built this amazing brand on physical fitness. We are trying to do the same but for mental fitness. Ultimately we want to become Nike for the mind.
One of Calm’s most successful Instagram ads: It is a counter that says do nothing for 15 seconds. The idea is you are scrolling through a feed. Take a moment. Take a breath. People don’t see it as an ad. They see it as an invitation to stop mindlessly scrolling.
A quick way to come up with ideas: Flip an idea on its head. Think of the opposite.