Spotify Premium Director Robert Lamvik recently left the digital music giant to join the executive team of guided meditation platform Headspace. For those of you not familiar with Headspace, I highly recommend giving it a try by downloading the app to access 10 free mediations — no strings attached. To get a better sense for the company’s mission, their Co-Founder, Andy Puddicombe, has a highly rated TEDTalk you can find here about how mindfulness training can transform the present moment. The New York Times says their founder, “is doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver has done for food.” Meanwhile, the New Yorker calls it “Enlightenment on your iPhone.”
Headspace generates revenue via monthly subscriptions for its guided meditation platform. Anyone can sample the service via the “Take 10” program, which offers 10 free guided meditations. After that, the company offers a variety of membership plans:
$12.95 per month on a month-to-month basis
$7.99 per month if you join for a year
$6.24 per month for a two-year commitment
$419.95 for unlimited lifetime access
Robert Lamvik, the former Spotify Premium Director, has left the company to join the Headspace meditation app team. During his time with Spotify, Lamvik spent four years on earnings initiatives and increasing premium subscriptions. By bringing him on board as Head of Growth, Headspace hopes to transform their service into a subscription powerhouse just like Spotify, except instead of bringing music to the masses, Headspace hopes to bring mindfulness to the masses.
The increase in user interest coincides with the rise of meditation studios opening up across major cities including NYC and LA in recent years. In a TechCrunch interview, Lamvik offers a peak into his decision to join Headspace:
“[Spotify has] basically perfected the freemium model. This was an opportunity to join a mission-driven startup like Headspace and an opportunity to bring people together and bridge together health and happiness.”
Clearly, he sees enormous potential in the Headspace offering considering he leaves Spotify at a time when a future IPO offering is in the works. Who would have thought that introducing meditation to the Western market on a massive scale could attract such attention from an esteemed industry executive?
At this point, Headspace has had more than 11 million individual downloads with annual revenue of over $50 million and a recent Forbes valuation of approximately $250 million. As of January 2017, the company had about 400,000 paying subscribers. Lamvik’s goal is to grow that figure.
You might be thinking, why should digital business visionaries pay any attention to the ongoing story of a meditation service?
In fact, Co-Founder Rich Pierson was also skeptical when he first met Andy Puddicombe — Buddhist monk turned entrepreneur. But after bonding with Puddicombe and offering marketing strategies for his budding meditation business in exchange for one-on-one mindfulness training, something changed. Peirson (who has not skipped a day of mediation since their interaction) reports, “Andy’s first question was, ‘How much of your life do you spend in the present moment?’ I didn’t know that was a thing. It fired something up in me.”
Both Peirson and Lamvik are not alone in their belief that this app can take off. Headspace recently raised $30 million in their July 2015 Series A from various firms (including The Chernin workforce, Advancit Capital, Allen & company, Breyer Capital, Jessica Alba, actor Jared Leto, television character Ryan Seacrest, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, among others).
CEO Brecker has this to say,
“It’s an incredible commercial opportunity because it’s digital content we create ourselves. There are no licensing fees. It’s immensely scalable.”
My praise for the app comes from its approachability and easy-access.
At the end of 2016, the app participated in Spotify’s first bundling partnership, so that users across Scandinavia can now subscribe to both apps through a bundled deal. In addition, seven airlines offer Headspace on flights — bringing zen to the skies. [This includes United Airlines who may need a higher dose of relaxation for passengers following recent events.]
According to the World Economic Forum, mental health costs are on pace to hit $6 trillion by 2030, which surpasses costs associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. In effect, tech visionaries such as Lamvik are betting on the willingness of people along with organizations to invest in monthly subscription access to their bounty of digital meditation packs and videos. By addressing a wide variety of topics ranging from stress to sports to relationships to pain, Headspace aims to become a go-to user staple like Spotify.
Personally I think one of Headspace’s greatest assets lies in data, and if Lamvik and his team can find a solid way to lock-in subscriptions through individuals and corporate wellness programs, they will go far. Ultimately, the Headspace team combines mission-driven dedication with a product space that opens up possibility for data and technology to elevate the human experience.