In the times of COVID-caused crisis, everyone’s talking about physical health, the importance of social isolation, and wearing masks in public places. At the same time, the media and authorities tend to draw less attention to mindfulness, meditation, and well-being. While people are closed in their homes, with little chance to visit offices and have a cup of coffee with colleagues, or meet with friends at a local bar, travel and simply live the lives they used to live, their mental health suffers.
Meditation startups and apps save the day. They help people relax and meditate, find some peace of mind, and re-charge. At the same time, companies that support mental health and provide tools for meditation and wellbeing bloom, attract investments, and make millions of dollars of net revenue.
Today, you are going to find out about these companies, meet top meditation apps startups in 2023, and get weighty reasons to join the mainstream with your own powerful meditation app.
First, let’s find out what’s the situation in the market.
State of mindfulness industry
The wellness industry grows as people look for methods to relax, fight anxiety, sleep well and improve their mindfulness.
The wellness industry is booming
According to GWI research, in 2019, the wellness industry set a record: it was valued at $4.5T. The industry includes multiple sections, and here are the three most prominent ones:
- Personal care, beauty, and anti-aging valued at $1.1T;
- Physical activity valued at 828B;
- Healthy eating valued at 702B.
The industry turned into a gold mine for brands and entrepreneurs who offer tools and services for well-being.
People need meditation
Scientific research proves meditation impacts positively human health. Looking for peace of mind and relaxation, people start practicing meditation. For example, the NCHS Data Brief shows that 40% of respondents report weekly meditation sessions.
North America is the leading market for mindfulness meditation application, with a majority of Americans practising meditation on a regular basis.
In the US, the meditation market grows annually. In 2020, it exceeded $2B in revenue.
Meditation and mindfulness apps save the day
Google metrics show that users actively look for meditation apps on the Internet. In summer 2020, the users’ interest reached its peak.
There are more than 2,500 meditation and mindfulness apps in the global market. Both well-established mindfulness businesses and promising startups get their market share. According to BusinessWire research, the global mindfulness meditation apps market size is expected to reach USD 4,206.1 million by 2027.
Top meditation apps startups
The top 10 meditation startups made $195M in revenue in 2019. It is 52% more than in 2018; and during 2020-2023, customers spend even more on meditation and mindfulness apps.
So what are the startups that make the most profit in the meditation and mindfulness industry? What business lessons can you learn from their success stories and products? Let's take a look at the top players on the market!
- Founded in: 2012
- Total investments: 218M+
Calm is the absolute leader among meditation apps startups with more than 958,000 users. In 2019, it became a meditation startup unicorn after raising $88M in a Series B round.
Packed with a collection of guided meditations, Calm also focuses on solutions for insomnia problems. After the app was augmented with extraordinary features, the team raised another $27M in 2019. Calm founders involved Matthew McConaughey as the guest instructor and now users can listen to his narrative while going to sleep. What a great marketing step! Cooperation with celebrities and writers not only attracted more users and increased downloads but helped to increase revenue and funding.
Calm has its internal team of content producers. Tamara Levitt, Head of Mindfulness at Calm, is the creator and narrator of most of the meditation sessions.
In 2018, Calm quadrupled its revenue. But company founders don’t plan to stop and constantly add new content and features to an app:
“The biggest driver for us is whenever we launch new premium content’, says Michael Acton Smith, co-founder and co-CEO of Calm.
Most of the meditation startups use a freemium monetization model. Apps are free to download and use, however, there are features users need to pay for. Seven-days free trial is offered by all of the startups you’ll find out about in our article. For example, the Calm meditation app offers a free trial, $69.99 monthly subscription, or $399.99 lifetime subscription.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: once you launch your business, you should work on it constantly. A simple prototype should grow to an MVP; an MVP should be expanded to a full-featured product. A full-featured product should be enhanced with new amazing features to keep your app profitable. If you plan to launch a meditation startup, get ready for a long but thrilling journey!
- Founded in: 2017
- Total investments: 17M+
This Turkish-German meditation startup raised $15 million in Series A.
The app offers 1000+ mindfulness sessions in different languages, guided weekly programs to improve well-being, and personalized functionality for its users. According to the Meditopia website, more than 2.5 million people use the app. The app founders claim Meditopia is the most widely used and downloaded mental coach in non-English-speaking markets.
Meditopia is available offline which makes it a more preferable option in comparison to similar solutions. Users can download particular meditation or entire meditation series. Then, by switching to Offline Mode, users can listen to them anytime.
Meditopia is a free app. Users can buy a subscription via in-app purchase. The weekly subscription starts at $2.99.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: impeccable user experience is one of the things that make people come, stay and invest with your app. Offline functionality may contribute to UX greatly and attract users who travel often or live in areas with an unstable Internet connection. Consider adding it to your scope of work. Besides, there are numerous meditation apps for an English-speaking audience and considerably fewer products for other, non-English-speaking markets. Choose a narrow niche, a blue ocean of opportunities, provide content for a particular region or country, and get more chances to succeed.
- Founded in: 2010
- Total investments: 216M+
Headspace provides functionality for meditation, better sleep, and stress management. Users may access Headspace content using its website full of useful articles and guides on well-being.
“A bright spot in a dark world”, “the most useful thing I’ve done in 2020”, “life-changing” - that’s what users say about the Headspace meditation app.
Trying to support the employees in times of COVID-19, Royal Bank of Canada offers a free one-year subscription to Headspace.
The Headspace monthly subscription starts at $12.99.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: The cooperation between Royal Bank and Headspace is a great example of how to succeed with a meditation and mindfulness app. Consider building a solution for corporate needs and attract small local businesses. Start with a freemium of low subscription fees to attract first users. Step by step, you’ll grow your app’s user base and increase brand awareness.
- Founded in: 2017
- Total investments: 18M+
“Being human is hard. Breethe meditation app helps you deal with ALL the feels. Anxiety. Stress. Sleep.”,
Breethe founders say on Twitter.
More than 10 million people use the app. It allows choosing the goal (Fall Asleep, Relax, Feel Happier, Get Healthier, and many more) and provides meditation and wellness sessions based on the user’s preferences. The app asks questions about the way users feel, what makes them anxious and what bothers them. With smart algorithms, the app personalizes the user experience and suggests sessions for particular needs.
The app offers functionality to deal with COVID-19-cause social isolation. Users may choose Dealing with the Pandemic Stress from the list of goals.
As of now, Breethe lifetime premium subscription costs $179.00.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: the pandemic triggers mental health. People all over the world feel more anxious and overwhelmed since March 2020, and this is something the meditation app founders should focus on. Study the target market and find out how your meditation app may help users stay healthy and happy during hard times.
For a couple of years, hyper-personalization remains a trend in many spheres, including IT industry. Companies report better progress and improved user experience as they integrate personalization principles into their processes. Providing personalized content and suggestions is another feature that helps Breethe stand out. Consider adding it to your scope of work to make users love your app.
- Founded in: 2017
- Total investments: 100M+
Synctuition offers more than 2,000+ melodies and sounds to improve mental health. The app uses ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) to provide superior relaxation and help to relieve stress. The Synctuition app suggests 3D sounds, sounds with personalized frequency, binaural beats and other unique features. The founders claim that because of the unique, ASMR-based approach, 25 minutes of Synctuition has the same effect as 4 hours of deep meditation.
However, users are not quite satisfied with the app. According to recent reviews, the subscription is too expensive and the app charges a fee even after users delete it. Besides, the app crashes from time to time.
The sounds are really beautiful, the voice is super calming. But - it (the app) started crashing every second chapter!
In March 2021, Rakuten Viber messaging app and Synctuition meditation app started a partnership to “tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic together.”
Synctuition monthly subscription starts at $15.99.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: first of all, don’t ever let your app crash. Pay attention to software quality assurance and postpone the app’s launch if critical errors are detected. If users notice serious issues, they will leave and may never come back again.
Besides, cooperation with other software apps, for example, messengers or social media applications, may strengthen your position in the market and attract attention to your brand.
- Founded in: 2017
- Total investments: 27M+
Just like Calm, Insight Timer cooperates with celebrities. Users may listen to narratives by Elizabeth Gilbert, Goldie Hawn, Russel Brand, and others.
Surprisingly, people spend 5X more time on Insight Timer than Calm! In 2020, 18 million users meditated on the app for 5.6 billion minutes.
The app is packed with live real-time meditations, group sessions, chat features, online wellness courses, stories and sounds for better sleep and well-being, and so much more.
The Insight Timer team grows rapidly. “2020 was exhausting. Our team grew from 30 people in Sydney to 130 people in seven countries, and we haven’t even met each other in person yet!”, says Christopher Plowman, CEO of Insight Timer.
Insight Timer offers a 30-days free trial. After that, the app charges $60 annually. The company offers a subscription plan for an entire organization called Insight Timer @ Work, which costs $99 monthly.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: learn more about Insight Timer success story and start slowly. Several years ago, when the Calm app was already famous on the meditation apps market, no one heard of Insight Timer. But now, users spend here more time than on any other meditation app.
Consider adding live video and audio streaming functionality to your app. Successful cases among meditation apps and other types of apps like Clubhouse prove that users are interested in streaming features.
Sanity & Self
- Founded in: 2018
- Total investments: undefined
Moov, the company that focuses on wearables development, launched the Sanity&Self app more than 3 years ago.
Sanity and Self is a mindfulness app for women. The app helps to deal with relationship issues and breakups, fight stress and anxiety, learn to self-love, deal with emotions and sleep well. Premium membership enables access to 900+ mindfulness sessions.
The app has a chat-bot-style interface. A user has to pass it step by step, clicking on needed options. Once the app collects the needed information about the user’s preferences, it opens access to the app’s content and hundreds of meditation sessions.
The app looks promising and successful, however, users often complain about additional fees charging and poor customer support.
The price for Sanity & Self session starts at $1.99, while the premium subscription starts at $9.99.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: provide support. Once you launch your own app, users will come asking questions, sharing their opinions, and maybe even giving insights on how to upgrade your app. Listen to them, respond to them, and establish trustworthy relations from the first day after release.
Besides, create a detailed user persona and focus on it. Sanity & Self founders investigated how stressed women are, and decided to help them to address the stress. Think about the audience that may be more affected by stress lately. Are students of a local college happy? Or would you like to support local entrepreneurs that lost their businesses because of the crisis? Focus narrowly, and get ready to scale in the future.
- Founded in: 2016
- Total investments: 3M+
J.M.Donaldson, Audience Development Analyst at Techcrunch, called Aura app Spotify for mindfulness and sleep.
Unlike other meditation apps, Aura Meditation and Sleep offers users short, 3-minute meditation sessions. The app helps users to fight stress and improve focus by investing only a couple of minutes per day, which may be a great option in fast-paced environments.
Recently, Aura announced a partnership with the Perkbox employee experience platform.
“Aura and Perkbox together will enable thousands of companies worldwide to access our vital resources for mental and emotional health and assist them in finding a safe space and refuge from the stresses of everyday life.”, _says Steve Lee, CEO at AuraHealth.
Aura was launched as a bootstrapped startup and raised $2.7M in Seed Round in 2018.
Aura premium subscription starts at $7.99 per month.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: don’t be afraid to start as a self-funded startup. There is no reason to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very first day the idea comes to your mind. Focus on the app’s prototype and MVP development first. These initial versions of your product will help you to collect first users’ feedback and attract investors’ attention; at the same time, they are much cheaper than a complete product.
- Founded in: 2016
- Total investments: $12M+
“If Headspace and Calm had a baby app that grew up in Silicon Valley, it would be Simple Habit.”, says Jessica Bursztynsky, Associate Tech Reporter at CNBC.
Just like the rest of the meditation apps, Simple Habit offers functionality for better sleep and more productive mornings, and five-minute-long meditation sessions. Besides, the app offers meditations to prepare for some important events like a job interview, or a date.
Yunha Kim, the founder of simple habit, is an experienced meditator who once used to enjoy apps like Calm and Headspace. However, she noticed some inconveniences in popular apps and decided to start SImple Habits as a side project. Soon, the side project turned into a million-worth business.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: even the smallest idea may bring you to success. Even the smallest side project may become the business of your life. Try other meditation apps and analyze their design and features. Is there something you believe you can do better? Don’t hesitate to write down your thoughts and one day, turn them into a product for Forbes Small Giants List.
- Founded in: 2017
- Total investments: undefined
Reflectly is a personal digital journal. The app helps to feel positive and motivated, provides users with inspiring daily quotes, allows tracking daily and weekly mood. It differs from other meditation apps and focuses on mindfulness tracking more than on meditation practices.
Reflectly started as a bootstrapped startup with a single angel investor but the current amount of investments is undefined.
The app collects much of users’ personal sensitive data and pays enormous attention to data protection.
Just like other meditation apps we’ve considered, Reflectly is free to download, with several subscription plans starting at $4.99.
Note for the future meditation startup owner: prioritize data protection. No matter what type of app you’d like to build, if it collects data, you should take care of its encryption and security.
The meditation and mindfulness apps market grows swiftly. Users look for simple, intuitive apps to add some good habits to their daily routine; companies like Calm and Headspace add more and more useful features and engage celebrities; small startups raise funds and invest in user-friendly software applications.
You may gain your inspiration from these successful meditation apps startups:
- Insight Timer
- Sanity & Self
- Simple Habit
Take a look at each profitable product and brainstorm if you can build something special. Start with a proof of concept, make sure you’re on the right track, and launch a striking software product for meditation and mindfulness.