Calm.com, a company that began as an online relaxation resource that gives information-overloaded computer users a healthy mental break in their days before making the move to mobile early last year, has now raised an additional $578,000 in a new round of funding. The raise, which includes investment from Jason Calacanis’s Launch fund and AngelList syndicate, Matt Mullenweg, and Matt Cheng, brings Calm’s total raise to date to over a million.
As someone who spends weeks on end staring at screens, I can personally attest to the need for — and the effectiveness of — Calm’s product.
In recent weeks, I began having trouble falling asleep thanks to a number of factors: The usual staring at my iPhone’s screen in a dark room, mind racing with tasks that need to get done, and a huge amount of stress from things going on in my personal life. That’s when I picked up Calm again, after many months of non-use. I was pleasantly surprised to find how polished it had become since my last look.
The app offers a series of meditations that you listen to along with your selection of a relaxing background noise like rain, crashing waves, the wind blowing over the ripples in a pond, etc. The courses address various topics, like anxiety release, compassion, confidence, creativity, energy, focus, motivation, self-acceptance and more.
Oh, and sleep, of course.
While the word “meditation” makes me think of New Age-y stuff, like sitting on a pillow, legs crossed, uttering the word “om,” Calm’s app is more of a modern interpretation about what it means to meditate. Technically, it’s more of a guided meditation resource, as a gentle voice walks you through visualizations and techniques that help you to relax your body, clear your mind and focus on your goals.
As someone who tends to be more pragmatic than spiritual, generally speaking, my recommendation of an app that stretches into “soft science” territory does not come lightly.
But hey, when it works, it works.
I have yet to make it to the end of a sleep session after dozens of tries, and wake up entangled in my headphones. Your mileage may vary of course, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with insomnia. (I’m not a doctor, and Calm is not a prescription. But if you’re just over-stimulated with disrupted Circadian rhythms, it can help.)
I’ve sampled the other courses, too, and found myself similarly refreshed afterwards.
According to Calm founder and CEO Alex Tew, the company has remained fairly lean, growing the business to reach hundreds of thousands of users, and “tens of thousands” of paying subscribers. Yes — paying. Calm has been generating revenue from day one by selling “Pro” subscriptions that unlock all its content. (Currently: 3 months, $4.99; 6 months, $6.99; 1 year, $9.99). Tew says revenue is now in the “six-figure” range.
“We found that…people are really willing to invest in their personal well-being,” says Tew. “We’re finding that it’s monetizing very well, conversion rates are very high, and our demographic is in line with people who like to spend money in this area,” he adds.
The typical Calm user tends to be female (60 percent), with a median age of 30 to 35. Seventy percent use Calm at home, despite its initial focus on helping workers relax during the workday. Some of its meditations still allude to this by suggesting that you’re in a chair, not laying in a bed, for instance. (Tew says this is changing, though).
And its users are fairly addicted: About half launch it daily, while many of the remaining users return regularly, like eight or 10 times per month. In a recent user survey, 90 percent also suggested they would be “somewhat” or “very” disappointed if they could never use the app again.
With the new funding, Calm plans to expand its four-person team with a few more engineers, as well as widen its content selection.
Eventually, it may move into other popular “self-help” topics like stopping smoking and other addictions, dealing with pain, and more. Longer-term, the goal is to establish Calm as more of a lifestyle brand, which may include real-world products like clothing or candles, possibly integrations with wearables, or maybe even its own “wearable” device — a trend that Tew is, for now, just keeping an eye on.
In the meantime, you can try Calm for yourself here.
The app is iOS-only at present, but an Android version will arrive in a couple of months.