Why India Should Capitalise its Advantage in the Business of Yoga and Meditation
Despite being the birthplace of yoga and the meditation practices that flowed from Hinduism and Buddhism, India is yet to break out into the burgeoning market that allows smartphone users to gain mindfulness by way of yoga or meditation apps. A tradition that is centuries old has yet to merge with the startup scene in India that makes the most of local understanding and explore this fertile space in the B2C space.
2017 seemed to be the year that yoga, meditation and tech became a glorious one. The most recent offering in this space came about by Berlin-based Asana Rebel that just succeeded in raising a whooping $6.5 million in Series A funding. Asana Rebel offers online courses set by experts for workers too busy to get to their local ashram. Along with other offerings like Grokker, Pocket Yoga, YogiDoList, YogaWakeUp and Universal Breathing: Pranayama, yoga and meditation apps are helping to promote Eastern traditions to tech-filled Western lives.
One of the bigger challenges to any Indian startup is how to capitalise on the trend. Many apps are still torn between appropriately pricing any course and offering it for free. Apps like Aura have hefty price-tags that come with it but others offer free solutions to de-stress. Suzan Garner co-founded and serves as CRO for Mindworks, whose mission is to foster greater happiness and well-being through its advanced meditation app. A long-time meditator, whose journey led her to Nepal and India where, for two years, she studied closely with several renowned meditation masters. Garner teamed up with “Zen Master of the bottom line” Bart Mendel who manages complex, multi-layered construction projects with precision, knowledge, harmony and patience—a virtue he practices daily. They brought on one of the West’s leading meditation teachers Lama Jampa Thaye as a key contributor to Mindworks.
Few of the newer startups like these are based in India, with most being based in either Europe or the US. However, the Times of India recently reported of a new ‘yogapreneur’ from Kerala named Hariprasad Varma who started his own mobile yoga studio that tailors to people’s yoga needs and such ventures are sure to kick off wider interest of yoga apps within India. Tarot Dojo also offers yoga retreats in picturesque locations like Great Lakes in Kashmir or on the banks of the Yamuna. Given the tourism sector in India is worth at more than $200 billion rupees and the yoga market alone is worth 490 billion rupees, it’s almost certain that startups looking to capitalise on India’s Vedic traditions can look to slice into that growing pie.