Users become its marketers via built-in viral features
Business model focused on in-app purchases, no ad delivery
WORK with Vishen Lakhiani long enough and some of his mercurial talent for grandiosity must rub off on you. This seems to be what has happened to Kshitij Minglani, the chief executive officer of Mindvalley Mobile.
Describing its search for a strategic partner which will bring value to the table, Kshitij, who used to work for Infosys in India before joining Mindvalley in mid-2013, hints that a number of bigger players in the app space are interested to partner with his company.
“We are a very profitable company and are looking for a partner that will value our pedigree – we have killer design ability, amazing content talent, and great user activity for our apps in the market,” he says.
As a company that just focuses on building quality apps, what stands out about Mindvalley Mobile is that where other companies that build apps will invest a lot of money into marketing, Mindvalley Mobile has spent an insignificant amount, “less than US$10,000 in total marketing spend” in promoting the 15 apps it has built over the past 18 months.
All have been built on the iOS platform with the exception of health and wellness app Omvana, which has an Android version as well.
The results have been eye-catching, with Omvana in particular being consistently among the Top 20 grossing apps in the United States in its health and fitness category and even more impressively, becoming at one point the No 1 grossing health and fitness app in over 30 countries.
Both Omvana and Dormio, a sleep app Mindvalley Mobile cleverly dubbed “the world’s most boring app” to help it generate some viral buzz, have benefited from being featured by Apple on its app store.
The huge visibility this affords any app that is fortunate enough to be picked by Apple sends downloads soaring, as witnessed by both Omvana and Dormio.
Omvana had 850,000 downloads a week before it was highlighted by Apple and within one week of that, it added 700,000 downloads. Today it has over two million downloads.
Dormio had 300,00 users obtained organically in the four months before it was featured. “It got crazy numbers one week after, with over one million users,” says Kshitij.
And while Kshitij, just like Vishen – the founder of parent company Mindvalley – is hard to pin down when it comes to revenue and total users for the 15 apps Mindvalley Mobile has in the market, in a subsequent conversation, Kshitij does claim that one of its apps has crossed the six-digit revenue figure in US dollars.
But he shies away from sharing more, stating “revenue figures do not matter” as what matters is how many users an app has garnered and more importantly, “how much time users spend on an app.”
According to Kshitij, most apps that get funded ride on these two metrics. With Mindvalley Mobile’s business model strictly focused on offering its apps for free, “otherwise it just kills the entry barrier,” and in never “pissing users off by showing them ads,” this user engagement is critical to the success of all its apps launched.
It makes money from in-app purchases and never charges too much for them, says Kshitij.
Mindvalley describes itself as an education company in the personal growth space, while its mobile arm strictly builds apps in the health and fitness space. This focus allows it to really understand its market and users. It also uses certain tools built into its apps which allow it to monitor how users interact with its apps.
As a result, Kshitij says, “We know what will click in the market, what content users want to consume and what niches they are keen on ... we know almost everything about our users.”
At the same time, a lot of homework also goes on behind creating an app and then generating regular streams of fresh content for the apps.
For instance there are100 authors who are exclusively creating content for Omvana, which is a combination of a health and meditative app. There are also three sound engineers who ensure all audio clips are of the highest quality and an inhouse team of experts who also vet the quality of the content the various authors create to ensure that only the best is delivered to users of Mindvalley Mobile’s various apps.
This content becomes the in-app purchase through which Mindvalley makes its money.
Focusing on the quality of the app is critical to Mindvalley Mobile as it relies on its users to become its marketers, with viral features built in to make it easy to share on social media platforms.
Kshitij is very well aware that most successful apps become a success because early users share them with their social networks.
“There is real benefit to using our apps which focus on health, fitness, meditation and weight loss, with our users continuing to extract value from them and not forgetting about them after a short period of use,” he says.
Building on its success in the US market, from where 60% of Mindvalley Mobile’s revenue comes, Kshitij is able to get exclusive tie-ups with subject matter experts by enticing them with the promise of selling their content faster and better, and giving them brand visibility.
The Mindvalley Mobile team itself consists of individuals from seven different countries with the lead designer being Malaysian. And as Vishen points out when highlighting the achievements of Mindvalley Mobile, it is significant that a Malaysian company can build apps that have global success.
With Malaysians traditionally being strong consumers of technology, Mindvalley Mobile and its parent company Mindvalley are leading the way in achieving one of the key objectives of Digital Malaysia, which is to shift local behaviour from being consumption-centric to being production-centric, so that Malaysian individuals and businesses produce as much as they consume from digital technologies.
With Mindvalley Mobile aiming to enter other niche areas in the personal growth market, expect the talent pool in the mobile sector to raise the bar in terms of becoming innovators in the competitive app economy.
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