With more than 500,000 subscribers paying an average of roughly $100 a year, meditation aid Headspace has built a real business out of the ethereal realm of mindfulness. The app-based service, which is consistently among the most downloaded health and fitness offerings in the Apple App Store, removes the intimidation factor for beginners with an easy-to-use interface, inviting animations, and how-tos about dealing with everything from panic attacks to relationship problems.
“It’s our job to get people excited about meditation,” says cofounder Andy Puddicombe, whose relaxed British accent pilots users through Headspace courses. “It’s about putting meditation in places where people wouldn’t expect to find it.” Last year, the company created a surprising ad campaign targeting exercise aficionados; it even ran spots during NFL and NBA games (teams such as the L.A. Lakers use the service). Headspace will reach 750 million airline passengers this year through its own in-flight channel on eight airlines, and it’s planning to install phone-booth-size relaxation “pods” in airports and other high-traffic, high-stress areas.
To reach people more familiar with Solange Knowles than Sri Chinmoy, the company also announced bundled subscriptions with Spotify. For Puddicombe, meditation is a springboard for better living. “[There are] other areas of health and well-being that could benefit from [our] platform,” he says. “Whether nutrition or exercise, there is always room for approaching it in a more mindful way.”
This article is part of our coverage of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017.