Audible Yoga – Practice Yoga Anywhere, Anytime!

Santa Barbara Business Show 005: Audible Yoga

Announcer: Welcome to Santa Barbara Business Show where we brush the tar off our feet and sit down with local business owners and thought leaders. Now here’s your host, Doug Holt.

Doug Holt: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the Santa Barbara Business Show. I am your host Doug Holt. And today, we’re going to have the founders of Audible Yoga on today. But before I get into that, just a quick reminder, you can get the show notes from this show, any links that we talked about, as well as the transcript right on the BrandedInnovation.com/SantaBarbara website. You’ll also be able to see previous shows and listen to those as well as see what’s going on at the Santa Barbara business community.

Today, I’m going to have the founders of Audible Yoga, Maureen Troy and Virginia O’Connor share with us some of their insights on how they started their business and kind of where they’re looking to scale. They’re based here in Santa Barbara and it will be interesting to see how two digital entrepreneurs came together and formed their own business. So without further ado, let’s jump right into the call.

Hi, Virginia and Maureen. Thank you so much for being on today. I really appreciate it.

Virginia O’Connor: You bet. This is great.

Maureen Troy: Thanks for having me.

Doug Holt: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s a beautiful day too. For those who are listening and haven’t gotten to hear your story or chance to meet you yet, tell us a little bit about your story, a little bit about the Audible Yoga story as well.

Virginia O’Connor: I think I’ll take that one. Maureen and I met at a networking sort of group about for about 2-and-a-half years ago probably. And I came back from a yoga retreat and wanted to have my yoga teachers classes with me. I couldn’t take my yoga teacher home and I wanted to have her classes. And I’ve asked this question of a lot of yoga teachers over the years, “Would you record your classes and I’ll pay you for them?” And for years, I’ve had the same response. “That sounds great. My students asked me that all the time, I just don’t know how to do it and I don’t know what I do.”

And so, Maureen and I were chatting and she said, she had always wanted to have a product that she could sell. She and I both come from a service background where I’m a content writer and she’s a graphics designer and a web designer. And I thought it sounds like a great idea and I said, “You know what? I might have a product.”

Doug Holt: Excellent. And a unique and still a yoga teacher obviously, so you’re able to do the next best thing,
Virginia O’Connor: That was the idea. That was the idea.

Maureen Troy: And fortunately, it happened at the time when the technology had really caught up and made it really easy for a yoga teachers to record the audio of themselves teaching classes. You know we were all carrying Smartphones, there’s wonderful apps that you can just hit record, you can use a hard wired or a Bluetooth headset, plug it in and off you go.

So there wasn’t any overhead in asking teachers to record their classes. You can get a headset for $8 at Amazon to plug it right in to your phone. So yeah, I think the timing was great and also, I have been a long time audio book loving and listening. So when Virginia told me her idea, I got it right away. I was like, “Yeah, so yoga teacher in my ear gently guiding me through the poses, that’s sounded wonderful.” So we took her ideas and sat down. And we worked for about 6 months on a marketing plan, just writing everything down we could think of in a business plan. And then, we decided to go with crowd funding but Virginia will tell you a little bit about that.

Doug Holt: Yeah, please do.

Virginia O’Connor: Yeah. It was really fun. We believe we had a really great campaign. There’s a lot of work that goes into a good crowd funding campaign. There’s a lot of upfront work, there’s a lot of video, there’s a lot of thoughtful thinking through the prizes or the pledged prizes and things like that. We raised a little over $3600.

So we didn’t meet our $10000 goal but what we did gain from it was some strong refinement of our messaging and a load of people who are interested in following it afterwards. So we got a lot of eyeballs on the idea and some further refinement in learning. So we took that forward and decided that we weren’t going to drop it, we were just going to do it ourselves. And so we hunted down developer and found one that we could work with and built it and now, it’s live.

Doug Holt: And when was this when you guys actually just came back from this conference and started the concept? I came back from the conference, was it 2013 July. So it’s been about a year-and-a-half.

Doug Holt: Okay, great. And then how are the classes been received?

Virginia O’Connor: We’re getting a lot of followers and subscribers. It’s a little bit slow. So we’re just getting started. We only turned Audible Yoga on about a month ago, well actually a month ago. So it’s just been one month in so far. And we have subscribers that are responding that this is the best thing that they’d have ever heard of that they weren’t able to get to yoga today and it’s exactly what they needed. So we’re hoping that it will catch on. We started with about 70 to 80 teachers, I can’t remember the numbers but we’ve had three teacher sign-up in the last month and about four or more are ready to send in their audio files. So it’s growing with the teachers as well.

Doug Holt: It’s such a great concept. I loved how on your site that you break it down from teacher style level duration but also something that I haven’t really seen is purpose before. What was kind of the thought process behind that?

Maureen Troy: Well our thought was first of all, more yoga leads to more yoga. So we’re not replacing a studio class but we’re understanding that as busy women, we can’t get to a yoga class 7-days-a-week and we can’t go through reach for it every day which should be wonderful. So what we think is wonderful about audio yoga is the class, it doesn’t need to be 90 minutes and it doesn’t need to maybe just be for energy.

And with gathering from all over the world these are starting 700 classes, we’ve been able to find ones that are for sleep. That are you know 10 minutes, you’re not looking at a screen, you have someone in your ear again guiding you to relax and just sleep or if you do need energy in the morning but you don’t have 90 minutes, here is a great 20-minute class. We’re also finding how great yoga is for chronic pain, so we’ve had our classes for that. And yeah, I think that that’s so very very important about, what we’re doing is we’re offering a such a great variety that fits into everyone’s lives.

Virginia O’Connor: It’s also really important to know that yoga teachers themselves have been creating these niche products, these niche classes for their private clients or their specific studio classes. But now, those classes can get a wider audience, wider reach of audience. We have noticed a recent things for kids classes. There’s a lot of focus on kids classes, so we’d like to really expand that as well. And then senior yoga, my parents were very interested in having yoga that they could do because they’re not going to do some of that flippy stop. My mom says, “I’m not staying in my head.” But you know, if she can do a class that’s good for her growing concerns about arthritis then we’ve made a significant improvement for her and we’ve been able to connect the teacher with the student in a very unique way.

Doug Holt: Excellent. Being an entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara, has that played an influence or a role in your business development?

Virginia O’Connor: Yes. I’m from Colorado most recently. So this is a very very entrepreneurial area, everybody is starting up something. So there’s a lot of ideas floating around, there’s a lot of energy here. There are yoga teachers everywhere. So for us, this was kind of a perfect spot. There, everybody is a yoga teacher here.

Doug Holt: Certainly seems that way sometimes.

Virginia O’Connor: Yeah.

Maureen Troy: In addition to that, as we’ve mentioned earlier, what was fantastic is that we met through a meet-up group and it was a meet-up group for women who work from home. And so we knew a little bit about each other, we knew we were entrepreneurs when we met and I think that there’s just so much great information and groups and meetings that one can attend in Santa Barbara. I can’t imagine anywhere that has more information available to entrepreneurs, so that’s really wonderful.

Virginia O’Connor: There’s also a lot of yoga classes outdoors. I mean, the weather here is so unbelievable but that’s what’s nice about the opportunity of taking the yoga classes wherever you go, to the beach, to the park. I mean, I really can’t wait to hear the first soccer mom saying, “You know what? I had to go to soccer to watch my kid. But guess what? I popped behind the stadium and did my yoga while my kid was playing. Awesome!” I mean that’s sounds like the best way to go about it.

But then there’s also a lot of people in the world who don’t have this superb weather. I had folks that are stuck in the snow right now and I do know several people who’ve been able to do classes because they’ve been stuck in the snow at home. So it’s pretty interesting.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. So what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs and men and women who are working from home and are trying the fitness or health or wellness into their lives whether be in Santa Barbara or Boston or anywhere in the world, what advice would you give to them?

Virginia O’Connor: Good question.

Maureen Troy: Well first stop, just for any entrepreneur and this is something we’re proud of in ourselves is how far we could get with what’s equity. We hear of people who have launched businesses and had hundreds of thousands of dollars and we got from our concept to getting our website live for about $6000 out-of-pocket.

Doug Holt: Wow.

Maureen Troy: And a whole lot of hard work. And we traded, we found a developer who really believed in our idea and so we traded a small amount of equity for a fantastic website. So first off, I would say is use your skills and find a partner with other skills that match yours and do not discount that you can go that way and just work really hard.

So still the shout-out to all the people that are working hard on their projects in their own little space that they’ve carved out at home and keep going because you can get there. And then in part of all that sweat equity is finding time for a little bit of exercise whether its yoga. I myself loved to swim laps and find me at the pool when Santa Barbara there by the beach Los Baños.

Doug Holt: Yeah.

Maureen Troy: And to not be afraid to get up from the computer and take a little time for yourself.

Virginia O’Connor: And I’m a big walker ’cause I’m the riding half of this particular equation and so when I get stuck, I need to take a walk. So I will take a walk around the neighborhood and I don’t get very far before I realized, “That’s the perfect solution.”

So build in those little moments of exercise for yourself and then of course, there’s a lot of our classes that’s taught for 20 minutes, for 30 minutes so you can stop and do some yoga, release your day and then get started again in a much more creative way simply by releasing the tension.

Doug Holt: What great advice, we have so many entrepreneurs that are listening to the show and especially not only just in the Santa Barbara area but all over because of just the reach of the internet. The question we get all the time from people or emails that we get in here are people that have an idea either haven’t started or not sure where to start. So looking back now, it’s been year-and-a-half since you guys kind of I guess began this project, began this journey together. If you were able to go back to your previous selves a year-and-a-half ago, what things would you change? What advice would you give yourselves?

Virginia O’Connor: Good question. Be patient. Don’t freak out. You’ll figure it out. That’s the thing is. We’ve gone to people and we’ve said, “What do we do about this thing?” And then if we just usually give ourselves a few minutes and sleep on it thinking, we come up with some solutions pretty quickly. Maureen, anything else? I could think of some more.

Maureen Troy: Yeah, a couple of things. One is get out and go to as many of the events for entrepreneurs. That there’s so many up here in Santa Barbara. We weren’t able to work directly with WE which is the Women’s Entrepreneurial Group in Santa Barbara because we we’re just at different places then because we have gotten sort of ahead. But if you just have an idea, I think they’re a great organization. I think we’ve been to some of the start-up SB events and we’re able to talk to people that our idea and hear about other ideas and that was really useful.

And then another problem we have but there’s no solution unfortunately is time. And one thing like we found out with kick-starters that we should have started our marketing efforts prior to even getting our idea going just because it takes so much time to build up social media and to get the word out. And we’re finding that now again with our website but we knew at this time. So we’re okay with the fact that we spent the year building the website and now, we really have to work on the component of marketing. And so, each day we kind of remind ourselves that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon that now, we have everything up and running now it’s time to get the word out. And sort of not too hard on yourself when you realized that it’s a step-by-step process and it’s just impossible sometimes to get it all done at once.

So we’re okay with the fact that we spent the year building the website and now, we really have to work on the component of marketing. And so, each day we kind of remind ourselves that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon that now, we have everything up and running now it’s time to get the word out. And sort of not too hard on yourself when you realized that it’s a step-by-step process and it’s just impossible sometimes to get it all done at once.

Virginia O’Connor: Yeah. I think one other thing I would add is the power of coffee and tea. I don’t mean just the caffeine but I do mean, set-up meetings with other people. It doesn’t have to be a very long thing but get out and chat with other entrepreneurs, invite them to coffee or tea and say, “Look, I have this thing that I’m working on. I wonder if you have some ideas on it.” Everybody is happy to share– their knowledge, their information. You buy them a cup of coffee or tea, you learn an aweful lot, you go away, you get somebody else’s perspective on it and you get some ideas.

Doug Holt: I run a couple of businesses in Santa Barbara and coffee and face-to-face conversations are always the best. I mean, absolutely, you can’t beat those. Community like Santa Barbara, just so readily available and everything is accessible and you can’t help but want to be outside.

Virginia O’Connor: True.

Doug Holt: You guys have a phenomenal product and a phenomenal website. What’s next from you looking at 2015 for Audible Yoga, what’s the vision?
Virginia O’Connor: Big growth and subscribers and teachers. Lots and lots of subscribers and teachers, that’s pretty much our number one focus. Reaching out to more teachers, helping the subscribers and learning what the subscribers want because it’s going to be really fun when we learn that subscribers want, “Hey, I have this problem. Help me find a yoga class for that.” So helping them and if there isn’t a class available, giving that to teachers and letting them run with it. It’s going to be a really great collaborative platform as it develops.

Doug Holt: If a teacher is listening right now to this or an entrepreneur that knows a teacher, what should they do if they want to teach for you and they want to teach classes and share their knowledge?

Virginia O’Connor: Definitely, they should go to the AudibleYoga.com website and click “Teach for Us”. We have the information that they need to get started, it’s available right there including the apps that we recommend, the microphones that we recommend, the process. We have provided a lot of video support for teachers too so that they understand, “Okay, this is how you do it.” And then there’s a lot of links on the website to our AudibleYogaTeachers.com website where we explain how the teachers get paid for their classes because they earn royalties and referral income. It’s an excellent passive income stream for yoga teachers and they’ve not have that in the past.

Maureen Troy: And along with that, we never charge the teachers for anything. So there is no fees, no cost at all. So they are our partner and we want to help them and train them and support them in any way that we can and as Virginia mentioned, we’re paying in to ways, one if they are sending their students to our website because their students can’t get enough of them. Can’t get to enough with their classes, we pay them month-after-month a royalty for their students and then also for their downloads. So I think that it’s a great model and it’s very different than putting up free video classes which a lot of teachers are doing and it takes a lot of time and expense to do that yoga video and we kind of hate to see them giving away their work for free. We want to honor and respect and pay yoga teachers.

Doug Holt: I think that’s great, you’re making a collaborative environment for everybody and so, everybody gets a chance to go to that. That’s fantastic. You guys have been it sounds like entrepreneurs for a very long time and this is kind of your next phase of entrepreneurship. With that being said, what advice would you give for somebody who just thinking about starting out besides as going into the WEV (Women’s Economic Ventures) which I think is a great group. What advice would you give to that person that is sitting at home right now thinking, “Geez, I have an idea but what should I do?”

Virginia O’Connor: Definitely spend the time researching it, run it by other people, spend time on your business plan and groups like WEV and I think the small business group here in Santa Barbara or other places can help you, there’s a lot of small business administration groups that can help but spend the time doing the research. That was one of the biggest steps that we took. We took almost 5 months just researching our market, researching whether or not this would play out, whether or not we had competitors. We spent an incredible amount of time in them.

Doug Holt: So we’re doing most that research online to see if their competitors are on there, how did you go about your research or market research in this particular case?
Virginia O’Connor: Maureen was really good at this.

Doug Holt: It pays to have a great partner.

Virginia O’Connor: Yes.

Maureen Troy: I spent a lot of time Google-ing different things. I really studied the yoga video market and we went to one of the biggest groups for yoga and we reached out and asked for their reports and their demographics. Some of them they’re like for sale for quite a lot of money and we said, “Look, we’re just starting out. Can we have a copy of your report?” And they said, “Well, we’re putting a new one next year. Yeah, so we’ll give you a copy of the report.” And there was just incredible amounts of information, just down to what dollars are spent in yoga in our industry. So let’s say, just spend a lot of time studying the industry.

And one thing we knew at the outset and I had said to Virginia was that whatever product or whatever next venture I do, it had to be something that was in a large market. And so yeah, we were pleased to see and we both enjoyed yoga. We knew a little bit about it but when we got down to the nuts and bolts of it, saw that it was a good market, good demos, good amount of money being spent and growing. So do everything you can to find out what’s going on in your industry, that place that you want to be and then also, with that information, then you can kind of step forward and look at the competitors and what they’re doing.

AudibleYogaDoug Holt: And of course, take breaks for yoga.

Virginia O’Connor: Yes. Yes. Lots of breaks.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. You made it so easy. I mean for someone like me, 15 minutes to a 120 minutes, you’ve taken the excuse out of it with Audible Yoga, in my opinion.

Virginia O’Connor: I think so.

Doug Holt: Every excuse that I have for not doing yoga or doing some kind of fitness routine is pretty much eliminated once I get to your site which puts me in a hard position.

Virginia O’Connor: You’ll be fine, it feels great.

Doug Holt: Absolutely though. I will definitely, definitely be doing it. First of all, I want to thank both of you again for taking the time out today. For people who want to find out more about you and more about Audible Yoga, what’s the best way for them to do so?

Virginia O’Connor: Go directly to AudibleYoga.com and take a look at all the information that we have there. Our stories in there, our press releases are in there, just about everything we have.

Maureen Troy: And we have a lot of free yoga classes.

Virginia O’Connor: That’s right.

Maureen Troy: So if you can’t get to Rwanda today but you’d like to take a class that was recorded by one of our teachers in Rwanda, you’ll see that. It’s free, download it, try it out, share it with friends. Again, there’s some Valentine’s Day classes going on.

Doug Holt: Excellent. Excellent. So will people find that through social media or through your website?

Virginia O’Connor: Through the website, yes. And then, they can go to the Facebook page, we’re going to be putting on about hourly on Facebook.

Doug Holt: Well fantastic. Again, thank you guys so much for being on. Great luck with the Audible Yoga. I’d love to check back with you. I know it’s going to be a huge success.
Virginia O’Connor: Thanks.

Maureen Troy: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Doug Holt: That’s it for us today at the Santa Barbara Business Show. Again, go to BrandedInnovation.com/SantaBarbara to get the show notes and have all the links to the things that we talked about today. As well as the link directly to AudibleYoga.com. If you know of anybody you think should be interviewed on the Santa Barbara Business Show, please go ahead and email me at Doug@BrandedInnovation.com. Also, continue the conversation over at Facebook or Google Plus and we’ll see you next week.

Announcer:That’s a wrap. For show notes and details on this episode, go to BrandedInnovation.com/SantaBarbara and don’t forget to leave us a review in iTunes if you love the show. We’ll see you next time on State Street.

Links & Resources mentioned in this episode:

AudibleYoga.com
“Teach for Us”
Facebook page
AudibleYogaTeachers.com
WEV (Women’s Economic Ventures)

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