Investing in Insight Timer

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Last December, Bridge Builders Collaborative led a financing round for Insight Timer, an Australian based company. They recently launched a new product — short and mobile courses. This launch represents a new chapter in the company’s history and a great opportunity to support teachers. We love supporting global platforms that can help people connect with themselves so they can lead healthier, happier lives. Insight Timer is such a platform. Here are some of the many reasons why we opted to support this innovative business.

1) Size and Growth of the Platform. There are more minutes of mindfulness practiced on Insight Timer than any other meditation app. Almost 4.5 million people have downloaded the app, and now over 1.2 million use it every month. On average, somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 new people join the community every day. I enjoy logging on in the morning and seeing that there have already been 300,000 to 400,000 meditations on the platform that day. It’s cool when I start my meditation knowing thousands of others are also using Insight Timer (the app shows how many people are meditating on the platform at any given moment). Sometimes when I meditate, I just try to connect into the energetic field of all of those meditating at the same time — it’s a powerful, positive force.

2) The Teachers. Insight Timer is all about the teachers — there are over 1,900 of them on the platform. These are teachers from multiple global spiritual traditions, from many different countries, teaching in over 20 languages. It is wonderful to have a space that serves so many teachers. Lots of our friends, like Sharon Salzberg, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Sahdguru, Joan Halifax, Elisha Goldstein have content on Insight Timer. Many of the most well-known spiritual teachers and musicians are on Insight Timer, and the platform has many awesome less known teachers too. We love that teachers now have a place where they can share their content to a large, growing, and global audience — so their teachings have the opportunity to get more widely disseminated.

Unlike many apps or companies that interact with teachers, Insight Timer is flexible to their needs. There are no exclusivity clauses or contracts that teachers must sign, and whatever content they put on Insight Timer can be taken off at any time and be put elsewhere. Personally, I also like the musicians that are on Insight Timer. When I want to improve my focus at work, I will often find a 1/2 hour to 1 hour piece of music that can help me eliminate distractions.

3) The Insight Timer Community. When you finish a meditation on Insight Timer, you can see which of your “friends” have meditated with you as well as people in your local area who were meditating. Then if you want, you can see everyone else that meditated with you, although that would take some time because thousands of people are meditating at the same time from around the world.

Another great feature is that there are 5,000+ self-formed groups on the app, created around spiritual traditions, language groups, special interest areas (the environment, women), or any relevant topic that is of interest. I enjoy checking my gratitude group every once in awhile, just to see what people are grateful for on a given day.

4) Global Scale. Most mindfulness or spiritual apps start in one language that is then translated into other languages. Teachers voices get lost to translation. With Insight Timer, all teachers teach in their own language. As an example, Brazil has a large number of users because there are many Portugese teachers on the platform. In fact, the city with the most amount of Insight Timer users on Android is not New York, SF, London, or Toronto; it is Sao Paolo, Brazil.

5) Mindfulness Free for Everyone. Headspace (we are investors in Headspace) provides 10 free meditations and then the paywall goes up. Other mindfulness apps give you only 2–10 days before your free content ends; then you’re invited to pay either monthly, annually, or for a lifetime subscription. Actually, some apps require you to input a credit card to even access the whole platform for a free trial. Insight Timer is different. They believe that meditation by nature is meant to be freely accessible to all. Their model has over 9,500+ free meditations and talks on the platform and free content is added every day.

Why would you pay for an app with a few teachers when you can get 2,000 teachers for free?

They have added paid content for those who want special features or who want to take courses. Soon, users who want to express gratitude to teachers will be able to donate to them. The app will always have a free Meditation Timer and thousands upon thousands of free pieces of content.

6) Going deeper. Many meditation apps can be described as “gateway drugs.” They have wonderful content that is available for many people to be introduced to mindfulness. They help people become calm, maybe sleep better, and learn meditation. On Insight Timer, you can do all of that and you can go much deeper — into many spiritual traditions or into consciousness itself. There is no one path — only one’s individual path to growth on the platform.

As I have been talking to people from multiple communities, I find repeatedly that while meditation users start on places like Calm or Headspace, many graduate to Insight Timer. And they enjoy being part of a deeper global community. While writing this, I was speaking to a banker in San Francisco who has been on the Insight Timer platform for a year. He shared his gratitude about his use of and commitment to the community.

7) Building a Revenue Stream. As investors, it’s important for a company to create a path to meaningful revenue growth and to become profitable. We believe Insight Timer can be successful in generating revenue. What we like is that this platform is great for teachers, so we will only do as well as the teachers on the platform are doing. Our success as investors is determined by the platform’s ability to support and create revenue opportunities for the teacher community. To quote the company’s app in discussing the new courses, “Many publishing companies take up to 80% of the course fee, leaving teachers with as little as 20%. Our teachers receive 70% of the course fee (after app store commissions), ensuring they earn far more with Insight Courses.” We can see a day when teachers won’t need the expense of their own web sites because they can put their content and courses onto Insight Timer. This allows teachers to focus on what they do best, which is to inspire and help people along their paths of spiritual growth.

8) Something for Everyone. There is a wealth of diversity of content on the platform. There’s content from teachers from multiple spiritual and faith communities, including Islam, Mysticism, Buddhism, Shinto, Yogic Traditions, Christianity, Judiasm, Consciousness, and others. There’s content that addresses many different potential benefits for ones life — like sleep, clarity, body image, creativity, forgiveness, flow, gratitude, intuition, mindful parenting, and many others. For music lovers, there’s music with nature sounds, binural beats, classical music, drumming, ambient music, chanting, sound healing, and others.

So there’s something for anyone who wants to connect more deeply to themselves. There’s no doctrine or set path for personal and spiritual growth on Insight Timer — it’s your journey.

9) The CEO and the Team: We enjoy working with Christopher Plowman, CEO & Co-Founder, and his brother Nicho, Co-Founder and also a Vedic teacher. They purchased and expanded the business together and have assembled a passionate team in Sydney, committed to expanding global consciousness and dedicated to supporting teachers. As investors, we appreciate they are seasoned leaders who know how to grow a business and create value for shareholders. We like to work with leaders who are collaborative and willing to listen. As well, we enjoy adding value to the investments we make, which takes a receptive team. We’ve experienced this group to be open, active listeners, and collaborative.