Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Milena Ionescu, and I am the co-founder of MindTastik Meditation App. MindTastik is a project started in 2019 and Is a meditation app that aims to help people solve day-to-day mental challenges, self-improve, sleep better, and improve their wellbeing.
My co-founder and I have created other apps which are niched on specific problems, all those apps being derived and are using the same meditations we employ in the main MindTastik app. These apps include: Hypnobirthing for pregnant women, quitting smoking, fear of flying, and bedtime stories.
We differentiate ourselves because each meditation you will find on our app is in-depth (which means they are long enough to achieve the best results) and has an after-meditation to do.
In addition, you will get mindfulness tasks that will help you integrate the experience of meditation.
We make around 35,000 USD / month with MindTastik and the other smaller apps.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I was working in a multinational company, and I was feeling overwhelmed all the time. I felt like I was in a race against myself, without any proper goal. I wanted to do more, but it seemed impossible to me.
While browsing the internet, I found out about meditation and mindfulness on a Facebook ad.
I purchased a meditation for 9.99$, and even though I was reluctant that it would help me in any way, I decided to give it a try. The results were amazing for me, and I had decided to try it 2-3 times a week when I had some alone time to spend meditating.
Listening to this general meditation helped me uncover some facts about myself and my journey hidden in my subconscious that I was never aware was there. Things like memories from childhood, even experiences since I was five years old. I said, wow, so cool.
Then I purchased more themed-based meditations for my day-to-day problems, and quickly it helped me understand that I was my enemy, and there were lots of instances when I was self-sabotaging.
By uncovering this hidden part of myself, I have started to understand the root cause of my day-to-day problems (procrastination, self-sabotaging, expecting the worst out of each situation I was in).
Of course, the changes were visible in time, and there was nothing magic in this transformation. So then, being an avid smartphone user, I asked myself: why not an app?
Because almost everyone has a smartphone, and it's way more comfortable to listen to these meditations from your phone, not on a PC or, worse, from a CD Player. At that point, I was not aware of the existence of Headspace or Calm.
How I found my cofounder
I decided to contact Teo, my old friend and currently my co-founder. knew Teo had some money and he was passionate about psychology.
At that time, Teo was also looking for online ventures where he could invest, so it was an instant match. We wanted to help people by creating a business around my discovery. If it worked for me, the most reluctant person about its benefits, it should work for everybody.
Then, we found out there are plenty of competitors with meditations in the App Store like those mentioned above. We had no idea how much money they were making, and finding them didn't scare us at all.
Instead, we got some inspiration from them, finding the way we wanted to go. They all had small meditations of 5-10-15 minutes. And my question was: how could a beginner or even an advanced meditator achieve something in such a short time?
We then decided that for a user to integrate the meditation in his subconscious, he needs longer meditations. We know that each one of us is busy and living in a fast-paced world, but the difference between people is that some want to take the extra mile. If you want to feel great, sleep better, and self-grow, then you have to invest time in yourself.
We drafted the plan, wrote some topics for the meditations, and went over to a freelancer platform to find experts in this niche who were willing to record meditations for us.
At that time, I had no expertise in this area. All I remember is that when I discovered so much about myself in those first meditations, I started to read any psychology book I could to find out more about the subconscious mind.
The financial situation at that time was ok for me, but my friend invested all the money in exchange for 50% of the business.
Take us through the process of designing and prototyping your app
After getting in contact with some freelancers, we hired one sweet lady from the US who is a licensed hypnotherapist. She has recorded for us the first meditation. And while browsing her collection, we have found out that she has recently recorded a great collection of meditations exactly the way we planned (longer meditations targetted to specific topics). We have become friends, and we made a deal to license her recordings for our app.
So we had around 100 meditations to kick-start our app. But we didn't have an app. We had an idea of how it had to be, so we started hunting developers because neither my co-founder nor I knew how to design an app. We only had an idea.
Prepare to have patience and don't get discouraged with the first results. I was pulling my hair out when I was obsessively verifying the statistics of our meditation app.
We went from developer to developer until we found an Indian team, and they are the ones who materialized our first version of the app, and we are still working with them at this moment. I guess we were lucky to find the perfect people, and for this, I “blame” the universe. Each wrong step we took on our way took us closer to the right person.
At first, we kept our costs at a minimum. The first version of the app cost around $10,000, and we only launched it for iOS. Of course, we kept updating it (we released the MVP if we can call it that way, got a few iOS rejections, and when it finally got approved I felt so good, almost like winning the lottery. Little did I know that this was just a simple step of a long journey.
We didn’t get any feedback from customers. We have developed it based on my idea and as soon as it hit Apple Store, I started working on the update) because I am somehow a perfectionist, which is a bad thing, and I found faults in each version we were testing.
We kept adding new features until we had a stable working product. The whole process is a learning process where you learn lots of things, including ASO (App Search Optimization) and many things you didn't think about when you wanted to launch an app.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When we launched it, we thought that was the whole process. We thought that launching the app was the only thing we needed to do, and the clients would come by themselves. That was and is wrong. We have seen like 10-20 downloads per day, and that was all. Significantly few people were paying in the initial stage of launch.
We created a website and did some SEO, but we did it wrong at that time because we didn't know how to execute a correct SEO campaign. We then tried all methods in the world to try to get some customers. We had a few but nothing too significant. We then started learning about ASO about SEO, and we have started doing A/B tests with images. Yet, we still had limited knowledge at that time.
In the beginning, we released the app, hoping that all you need to do is to be present in stores. I thought that configuring a couple of keywords would guarantee some visibility.
Then I paid a Fiverr Pro user to do us the App Store Optimization for close to 1000$. Seeing what he did, I have started to understand what ASO means. I have dug to find all information needed about ASO because I knew I could do it a little better, considering that I was doing it for me. I was the only one knowing the benefits of the app.
I used AppRadar and App Annie mostly. Most of the tools were so expensive that I couldn't afford more than a few months. I started testing new keywords, new screenshots, etc. A/B testing is the key to overall app performance.
My advice for beginners is that even if they decide to outsource the ASO, they should properly understand the steps to a successful campaign. I would advise them to read all resources available on Google about ASO. This way, even if you decide to work with a consultant, you will understand if he is a professional or just getting experience on your project.
Either way, you should always test out everything from app title, subtitle, and keywords to screenshots and icons. The great news is that iOS App Store has finally allowed us to do some A/B testing with the screenshots of the apps.
We launched our working product in March 2019, and we thought we could easily get ten clients per day to pay us. However, the reality struck that we could only get 1 per day and not ten as we had initially planned. The whole financial part was taken care of by my co-founder. He is pretty intelligent and understood that this was not a fast money-making scheme but a long-term investment that could never pay off.
This year, Mental Health Awareness Month is in May; that's why we have decided to do a promotion for both May and June for new users. The current prices are as following: 4.99$ / month or 39.99$/ year. If you purchase a whole year, you only pay for eight months.
When choosing the prices, we aimed to be one of the cheapest meditation apps out there so we can be accessible to anyone. We have meditations for the whole family: kid's meditations, including bedtime stories, teens' meditation, stress & anxiety, self-development, meditations for pregnant women, weight loss, addiction meditations, etc. So paying only 39.99$ for 1 year to have access to all these meditations with your entire family it's a bargain, in my opinion. We aimed to be the cheapest in terms of pricing but high quality and problem-oriented.
When things didn’t go exactly as planned, we didn't get discouraged, but we had to find a way to keep the dream alive, so I have decided to create several apps on the same architecture we had, with themed meditations.
We have created Hypnobirthing Fit Pregnancy for pregnant women, Fear of Flying Meditations, Quit Smoking Meditations, and Bedtime Stories. It was a great idea, and these apps started making decent amounts of money. The whole idea was to generate some income so we could optimize our MindTastik Meditation app, and that's what we did.
One of the other reasons for creating these mini-apps is for App Store Optimisation purposes. There are a limited number of characters when defining the ranking factors: the app's name, subtitle, and keywords. It is tough to target so many keywords with just one app.
To give you some numbers, Hypnobirthing Fit Pregnancy was downloaded in both stores (iOS and Android) by more than 200,000 pregnant women since the end of 2019 when the app was released. We recently did a study on over 9500 women to find out more info about hypnobirthing. You can find it here: https://mindtastik.com/hypnobirthing-report-effectiveness-of-self-hypnosis-for-pregnancy/. (I don't know if it's worth mentioning this study. But the success of the app is very clear)
Our plan for the second part of the year is to merge all these users into our MindTastik Meditation App. For our mini-apps (Pregnancy, Stop Smoking, Bedtime Stories & Fear of Flying), we will be offering great deals for the users to get a subscription to our meditation app. They are currently paying more for pregnancy meditation than they would on MindTastik. So instead of paying 6.99$ / month for pregnancy meditations on our Hypnobirthing Fit Pregnancy, they pay 39.99$ / year on MindTastik, and the whole family benefits from all kinds of meditations long term, not just for a few months during pregnancy. So it's a win-win situation for the customer and ourselves.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
After launching the themed meditation apps, we used all the money to improve MindTastik. At this point, I can give a piece of advice: keep trying and find ways to sustain your dream. If you feel that you can make it, you should never give up. This worked pretty well for me. Also, prepare to have patience and don't get discouraged with the first results. I was pulling my hair out when I was obsessively verifying the statistics of our meditation app.
Until the pandemic hit, we were doing pretty well with the themed smaller apps and not so well with our MVP, the meditation app. I always felt that the app would take off at the right time, so I kept updating it and focusing more on the themed apps. Finally, in March 2020, we started to see spikes in traffic on our meditation app. That is the time when we started investing some money in Search Ads, Google Ads, and even Facebook Ads.
We have split our efforts 50/50 into paid traffic and organic traffic (ASO, SEO). We knew that paying ads forever was unsustainable, so we easily started to invest more in organic traffic. We tried some organic Facebook, but it didn't turn out too well for us, so we have reduced our efforts in social media. I am sure that soon we will turn back to social media, but at that point, we saw that the only way to get results from organic social media is actually to pay for ads, so we gave up on doing social media.
Anyone should understand that your website is the most valuable asset you can have because it is in your control. Rules or things can change, and if you are not 100% in control of your assets, you might have worked for someone else's benefit.
We are proud to have been featured in DigitalTrends in the best meditation posts on Yahoo, CBS, and many other outlets. Our app was featured in a clinical procrastination trial and the whole story was featured on Al Jazeera.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today we are doing around 35,000 USD revenue across all apps (MindTastik Meditation, Hypnobirthing Fit Pregnancy, Stop Smoking Meditations, Fear of Flying Meditation & Bedtime Stories). All this revenue comes from in-app purchases from both iOS and Android.
We are profitable; however, we are still far from being used by the masses and being able to help as many people as possible. Currently, we only invest around 20% in ads; the rest of 80% is going towards organic growth.
We have three high-traffic servers: 1 in Canada, 1 in the USA, and 1 in France.
The site SEO has started kicking off, and we are seeing an almost 10 times increase over the last 6 months period, in impressions to our websites. The reason for this is that we have outsourced the SEO to a team of professionals from my country. They assist us with the entire SEO strategy from outreach and technical to content creation. My advice for you is that when you can afford it, you should outsource anything that you can so you will be able to focus more on growing the business. But, always make sure to oversee the entire process whether it is SEO, ASO, or content creation. The Digital Media & SEO Company we are working with is 2BRB.
We are adding new meditations weekly, and we are working with more than ten content creators in this area. We are also looking for partners with this passion for meditation, mindfulness, psychology, and hypnosis. So if you are passionate about this, don't forget to drop us an email, whether you are a music composer, meditation voice-over artist, or you like to write articles and content in the meditation niche.
Another long-term plan of ours is to bring in an investor that would allow us to accelerate our growth. We don't want an investment banker looking to get fast profits but someone who understands this niche and wants to help people worldwide live better lives while making some profits on the way.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
By starting this business, I like to say that I haven't made mistakes or poor decisions, but I have learned and acquired experience. If you look at things negatively, you won't be able to grow. The major challenge was translating my ideas for the developers so we could materialize them into a useful app.
The good decisions were to create those niche apps that helped us get revenue to keep MindTastik as a whole business afloat. Aside from partnering with our head of content, which provided us the meditations, we hadn't done any partnerships.
I am grateful for the fact that I found my head of content and our developers. Again, I think this was the universe helping us.
At this point, we want to help as many people as possible to overcome negative thinking patterns that are sabotaging their work, relationships, and goals. That's why we have lowered our price to 4.99$/month, probably the best price on a meditation app, so everyone can afford to get a subscription and start improving themselves.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We are working with Google Play for Android devices and App Store for iOS devices. We also take care of our website, and we have started investing a lot of money in the creation of content and SEO/ASO efforts.
Anyone should understand that the website is the most valuable asset they can have because it is in their control. If you focus your efforts only on social media, you have no control over your page. Some time from now on, rules or things can change, and if you are not 100% in control of your assets, you might have worked for someone else's benefit.
- For ASO: AppRadar, SensorTower and Data.AI (ex AppAnnie).
- For App Analytics & Promotion: AppsFlyer, Facebook SDK, and Adapty.
- For email marketing: SendinBlue. We used MailChimp at first; however, we don't need all those add-ons to communicate with our users.
- For Team Communication: We primarily use the great old Skype and now and then Zoom.
- We use Stripe for Payment Processing (and Google Pay and Apple Pay).
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My favorite psychology book is You Are Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza. The book has inspired us so much in creating the newer meditations because uncovering the thinking patterns is the key to becoming the version you would like to become. The way you think it will create your reality, and if you are having a negative view of the world, those thoughts will soon become your negative reality. With meditation, you can intervene and prime those negative subconscious thoughts.
A great movie to watch is The Secret, narrated by Bob Proctor. It's a great piece of inspiration, and I genuinely believe that with meditation, you can access unlimited resources inside your subconscious that will help you be whatever you want to be.
This movie also inspired a project which is in the beta stage, the Calm Coin. With all the fuss around cryptocurrency, we wanted to be in trend, so we created a token called Calm Coin on BEP20 (Binance). We plan on gifting the calm coin to all our clients as a good luck coin. This way, our customers will have the lucky coin with them for protection and remind them to think positive thoughts.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I know the journey is different for each of us, but the advice I can give you is to have faith in your projects and your instincts. Then, if it is meant to be, allow yourself to find solutions to keep the dream alive because I can tell you there will always be challenges.
Don't give up on your project just because you took a hit. Instead, try to feel if the project is worth continuing or not because sometimes a project is not meant for you; however, that project can lead you to other successful projects that are meant for you.
And try meditation! By training your mind, you will be able to better focus on the task at hand and have more clarity towards making difficult decisions.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are looking for partners to join us for content creation, meditation creation (scripts and voiceover), or calm music creators. We need both unpaid collaborations (where they provide value in exchange for being featured inside our app/websites) and paid collaborations. For more information, please visit us here/ or email us at: [email protected].
The same applies to investors that are passionate about meditation and mindfulness and want to invest in us. So please email us at: [email protected], and we can discuss it right away.
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