Blooming’s mindfulness app aims to prevent burnout
Finnish startup Blooming is only a few months old, but it is aiming high. The company wants mindfulness meditation to become as popular as doing physical exercise.
Kristian Ranta sleeps better, stresses out less, and generally has more confidence in life than earlier. His working memory and concentration skills function well, seeking perspective comes more naturally than before, and walking in other people’s shoes – figuratively – is easier than it used to be.
The changes started occurring a few years ago as a result of daily meditating. Ranta started to contemplate that the so-called mindfulness meditation could help others like him, who in their busy daily lives do not have time to stop.
“A relatively small number of people know what mindfulness is about, and an even smaller group is devoted to doing it regularly,” says Ranta. “However, meditation is a bit like exercise in the sense that it is beneficial mainly if practised regularly.”
When founding Blooming*, Ranta and co-founders Albert Nazander and Riku Lindholm were trying to figure out ways to both concretise the effects of meditation and make it a part of people’s daily routines. Ranta, who is also the co-founder of health technology company Mendor, came up with an idea of monitoring the measurable changes in the human body, coaching, and a mobile application that offers support and reminds people about meditation even when they are too busy to remember it.
“We wondered how things are communicated to people in this day and age. Having measurable components included makes the message less abstract.”
Blooming focuses on companies. Ranta says that the goal is to offer an easy tool to increase employees’ wellbeing.
“We want to help companies support their employees and prevent things like burnout.”
Users decide what happens next
Blooming’s service consists of personal mindfulness meditation coaching, a social component which refers to a peer group, and an application that gives each user a weekly meditation programme comprising different types of exercises. The user’s stress levels will be measured at the beginning and the end of every programme to show the progress.
Initially the users wore a headband that was used for measuring how meditation affected the electrical activity of the brain. However, tests proved that the headband did not work well enough, so it is no longer included in the package.
“Unfortunately technology is just not ready for it yet,” says Ranta.
The eight-week programme helps users fit meditation into their daily routines. The first test users started using the service at the end of last year, and their feedback is now used in developing the product further. The process is supported by a 300 000-euro seed investment from Lifeline Ventures and Reaktor Ventures.
Ranta believes that the investors were convinced by not only the experienced team, but also the fact that in the US – and to some extent in Finland – meditation has become almost a movement.
Meditation unlocks the mind
The modern human does not lack in stimuli. Ranta mentions that when done properly, mindfulness meditation can bring up things that have previously been hidden in mind’s corners.
“If one is living on autopilot, work is really busy and free time packed with activities, there is not time to stop and think about feelings. Through meditation it is possible to stop and get to know what is going on inside.”
Ranta has heard of cases in which, for example, someone working in an investment bank is meditating, realises that they are working in the wrong field – and resigns. In that sense, mindfulness meditation might not be a risk-free employee benefit.
“Meditation can bring about psychologically challenging situations, but in the long run the effects are positive, at least to the individual.”
In today’s office jobs, things like smartphones cause constant distraction. According to Ranta, meditation can help strike a balance in the middle of the flow of disruptions. He believes that soon seeking for the calm and quiet will be a mainstream hobby.
“We extend from just training the body to training the mind as well,” he explains.
The US market
Ranta says that in the US, particularly in the IT-focused state of California, mindfulness is a lot better known and more popular than in Finland. The parent company of Blooming is in the US, and sales efforts are already gathering speed. The parent company of Blooming is in the US, and sales efforts are already ongoing. Blooming is currently recruiting a mindfulness coach for the US market.
The company is eyeing Europe and particularly the Nordic countries. However, first the team wants to finish the product properly and let it out for the inaugural pilot customers to use.
”We are strictly focusing on making the product as ready as possible. First we want to get the show on the road and then plan potential directions for growth.”
*Known as Meru Health since 2016