With startups like Calm and Headspace have brought innovation and accessibility to the meditation space, Mason Levey still thinks users are stuck with an all-too-similar experience: listening to a stereotypical meditation voice; sitting still; closing your eyes; being silent.
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So, Levey founded WAVE with Brad Warsh, a startup working on a subscription-based meditation app and pillow that just raised $5.65 million in seed funding.
This infusion of cash came from a group of investors, including CrossLink Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Collaborative Fund, and Ludlow Ventures.
WAVE mixes guided meditation with music on an app, and a pillow that vibrates according to the beat, said Levey, the CEO of the company.
All the tracks users can pick from are custom made, which Levey says sounds like “Stranger Things meets Aphex twins meets Kanye meets 808.”
The app is $9.99 a month offered through a subscription model. The pillow is $199 and includes over-ear headphones.
“It enables you to be really present and allows you to have something immersive and fun,” Levey said. “We want to make meditation something you look forward to.”
Levey also critiqued other apps for focusing too much on the negative. For example, on some applications, users are prompted to express why they are meditating, can choose whether its to resolve “anxiety” or “stress.”
“We obviously want to help with all those things, but we also want to lead with the positive,” he said. Users can pick albums to energize, or shut down for the day – and can even toggle with a bar that lets them decide how much energy they want from their music.
Even Calm, which recently raised $115 million in a Series B, is taking apparent steps to differentiate beyond that airy, soft voice. The company offers a couple quirky offerings, including exclusive music for its subscribers and Sleep Stories told by some familiar voices like Matthew McConaughey or Leona Lewis.
Headspace, the main competitor of Calm, told TechCrunch that it’s doubling down on artificial intelligence and voice. It recently acquired Alpine.Ai to do so.
“There are a few meditation apps out there right now… but the ability to react to where you are in your journey with specific advice through voice applications will be [far ahead] of where our competitors are,” says Headspace’s new CTO Paddy Hannon, told TechCrunch.
Before WAVE, Levey was working on Y7 Studio, a modern ‘beat-bumpin’ take on yoga with 13 locations and 300 employees. There, he said the trick was getting people in the door through playing Beyonce.
We’ll see if betting on a similar method works for WAVE.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.