Rohan Gunatillake, 21 Awake on Staying Small


Rohan's contribution to Small is Beautiful was a talk about the business side of things: a self-vivisection of his business, 21 Awake. 21 Awake solves mindfulness problems, helping you to bring more calm and insight into your life. Rohan asked himself: How do you create products that you can scale, but maintain integrity in your practice of mindfulness?

21 Awake & Buddhify – 21Awake is a microbusiness, run by Rohan – but he often says "we" when talking about the work. 21 Awake solves mindfulness problems. Mindfulness is a buzzword in mental health circles, but the premises are: How can I bring more self awareness, calm, compassion to my life? How can I bring those qualities to my work-life, relationships, family, digital life, and general urban over-stimulation?

3 Metrics of Success – for the 21 Awake app, Buddhify, these are 1. Sales, 2. Coverage & 3. Feedback. They are all as important as each other, and all feed each other. 

Sales: 60,000 units sold, which Rohan is happy with.

Coverage: is important – traditional and online media coverage supports sales and changes the conversation about the product.

On Feedback – The sales are nice, they mean that mortgages get paid, the coverage is nice, but the feedback is the stuff that knocks you for six. That is when you hear about the value people are getting from it. Feedback is the stuff that knocks you for six. User feedback is a dominant factor in decision-making for moving forward.

On Competition – Buddhify has 2 main competitors in the space – and are often mentioned side-by-side; but these 2 competitors come from big, well invested tech companies, Rohan is a one man band in Glasgow. "I have a big Fear Of Missing Out. At the moment I'm in the top 2 or 3 people doing this work, but the market is really taking off. In 2 years time there will be 10, not 2, companies working in this space. I have a genuine fear that I'll still be the small guy in the garage being ignored."

The Challenge – How do you create products that you can scale, but maintain integrity in your practice of mindfulness? Rohan identified 3 possible routes: The Start-Up; The Producer/Artist; and The Studio.

Space, Love & Understanding – "Money can buy us the space to do what we do, to make the product, Love is so important for us, to generate love within our community, and Understanding is vital, because the conversation about mindfulness, the conversation about technology and the mind is very poorly understood in the mainstream, so we need to support that conversation and the community of practice and make that a primary part of our objectives."


Watch Rohan's talk:

Rohan Gunatillake from Small is Beautiful on Vimeo.


Here's more from Rohan Gunatillake through our Twitter live feed!