Finnish startup Blooming is aiming to help bouncing-off-the-walls-stressed office workers regain control of their lives by using wearable tech. The service includes monitoring and tracking stress levels, plus recommendation software and meditation advice to help give workers the space to stop and smell the roses.
To help its plans come to fruition, the company recently raised a small round of pre-seed funding from Lifeline Ventures and Reaktor Ventures.
The company combines existing hardware solutions with their own software platform and a series of coaching services. For the brain activity monitoring, it partnered with Interaxon, which already creates a series of products to help improve mediation. For the heart rate monitoring hardware, Blooming turned to Firstbeat, which has a broad line-up of tools for sports, stress, and sleep monitoring tools.
The service combines training programs, technology for self-monitoring, personal coaching and a light brushing of peer pressure to help keep stress levels under control, all delivered via smartphone app. The main thrust of the company’s siege against mental corrosion is mindfulness meditation.
“Blooming’s vision is to make mindfulness meditation as widely practiced as physical exercise, giving people tools for self-empowerment, leading to reduction of stress and anxiety”, says Kristian Ranta, Blooming’s CEO and Founder.
When onboarding, users receive a personal headband and a stress monitor, after which they’re guided through the basics of mindfulness meditation, before engaging with a personal mindfulness coach and becoming connected to a peer-group consisting of colleagues. The programme is designed to monitor and track a user’s progress and to make an effort to build a lasting habit of meditation.
The company’s CEO Kristian Ranta co-founded Diabetes-care company Mendor. Ex-Olympic snowboarder and mindfulness coach Alexi Litovaara joined Blooming as the head coach, and developed the training programs.
Pricing-wise, Blooming’s service positions it as a high-end perk; “An intensive 8-week program with a personal coach will cost $2,500”, says Riku Lindholm, Blooming’s co-founder. After the initial two months, follow-up content $79 per month.
The company’s battle plan is ambitious, but the company will be facing some serious cultural challenges. The price point indicates that Blooming is aiming for high-end corporations, but that might just prove be the wrong crowd.
While mindfulness and meditation is finding favor in certain industries, that may not be true for bigger corporations — and especially in the company’s home market of Scandinavia. Sitting cross-legged and chanting mantras at work will be met with a range of emotions from mild amusement to deep suspicion, and I fear asking workers to don headbands and heart rate monitors on top of that is bound to go down like a 1984-flavoured, sarcasm-laced lead balloon.
Blooming’s service has been in early testing since December 2015 and is now being further developed towards a Beta release this month.