Category Archives: Tech

Smart Mat to take Yoga to the Next Level – And Beyond!

There’s been a lot of buzz lately in the yoga world about SmartMat. The world’s first yoga mat with embedded sensor technology it basically simulates the adjustments of a real live yoga teacher to guide you through a series of visual and audio yoga poses based on your own personal positioning on the mat.

Launching on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo in late September, Smart Mat reached its funding goal of $110,000 in less than 24 hours – Proof, if you needed it, that yoga practitioners were not afraid to embrace futuristic technology if it promised a fresh and complementary way to evolve their yoga experience.

With the 31-day Indiegogo campaign due to close tomorrow (31 October) with double their original financial goal raised, Smart Mat have now been able to extend the campaign to run up to December which may allow them to meet further development milestones in addition to the core feature of pre-programmed course work.

These include custom music options and fitness add-ons to help with weight loss, back pain and to support athlete workouts, multi-user support enabling the whole family to use it  and the ability to program whatever class you want from a database of 62 poses.

“The stretch goals (on Indiegogo) are already in the roadmap and we do plan on developing each and every one of them.”  Smart Mat CEO and practicing yogi, Neyma Jahan told Muuyu.  “Getting the funding and reaching the goals simply means that we will be able to implement them sooner than later.”

For Jahan and the team the aim of Smart Mat is not to replace teachers and studio-based classes but to enhance the yoga practice for both beginners and the more advanced yogi.

“While there will never be a replacement for human intuition and instruction,” Jahan says.  “What Smart Mat offers can be considered a complement.  A computerized brain will never be able to accurately read the thousands of elements a trained Yoga teacher can decipher just by looking at the student for a moment.  However at the same time, a human will never be able to read the micro points of balance and equilibrium required to achieve a “Perfect Pose” based on the specific measurements of the practitioners body.”

He adds, “It’s our hope that Smart Mat allows the practitioner to take their practice to the next level with this futuristic technology.”

Finding a balance between the ancient yogic tradition and, this futuristic fitness technology is hugely important to the company and all the additional add-on classes and programs take this into consideration.  Indeed, as Jahan states, “As Yoga practitioners ourselves it is important for us to create coursework that really meets the needs of our community.”

Sounds good to us – but what do you think?

Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content with Muuyu and a co-founder of the company.  Born in Ireland she has close to 20 years’ experience working in the areas of PR, communication and journalism.  She is also the editor of the Muuyu blog.  Siobhan has been practicing yoga on and off for most of her adult life.  However it was while doing a post-natal yoga class when pregnant that she really began to connect with her practice and she has been a regular practitioner ever since.

Connect with Siobhan here.

How women can save the startup scene

It seems that as a start-up, Muuyu just hasn’t managed to tick all of the typical boxes.

Resources:  Overstretched and under-financed – Tick!   Employees:  Similar!    Environment:  Open and engaging; Spontaneous meetings that result in 500 colored stickies being posted on all available wall-space – Tick!

Gender-bias in favour of men: Tick…wait…what?!

It’s true that the CEO of the company, Matt Devine, is a guy.  Muuyu was his idea in the first place so we’re all quite happy for him to take responsibility for that!  However, until recently there were more female employees in the company than male and even, while some folk have moved on, women still make up a large part of the team.

This is far from the usual picture though.  According to the Center for Women’s Business Research in the US, while women own approximately 40% of America’s private businesses when it comes to venture-backed startups that figure plummets to less than 10%.  The 2012 ‘Women at the Wheel’ report which was carried out by Dow Jones and studied venture-backed startups over a period of 15 years, claimed that 1.3% of privately held companies had a female founder, 6.5% had a female CEO, and 20% had only one or more female C-level executives.

Europe’s start-up story has a similar plot-line.  In fact, that was one of the reasons why American entrepreneur Jess Erickson set up the Berlin-based Geekettes, a network of female tech entrepreneurs and professionals.  She, like everyone else with adequate eyesight in the German capital could see that the internet start-up sector was swinging and yet there were very few women at the party.   Her company, which holds regular network meetings, runs courses and workshops, mentor programmes, pitch sessions and hackathons for female entrepreneurs, aims to encourage more women to step up when it comes to, well, startups.

Geekette now has over 700 German members and branches across the globe including New York and London.  In Germany, where according to BITKOM, the German Association for IT, Telecommunications and New Media, over 100,000 new jobs in the Internet sector have been created over the last five years, it is people like Erickson that are ensuring that women can be viable contenders for those positions.

But at Muuyu, gender equality runs to more than just a head-count.  As a small (but perfectly formed) start-up of eight we, in fact, represent a host of different nationalities, cultural backgrounds and age groups.  So even before we separate the men from the not-men, diversity is a given and therefore an integral part of our company culture.

On both a social and strategic level this is really a good thing.

Firstly, problem-solving, while it may take a little longer when you are eight equal voices with eight differing perspectives, happens within a much broader frame of reference.

An additional benefit to managing our issues by looking at them from all angles is that we’re also strengthened as a team because we learn to bounce off, listen to and lean on each other.

From a strategic point of view it’s also hugely important for any startup to mirror the demographics of its target market.  As Muuyu is an online yoga platform it thus goes without saying that a large part of our customer-base will be women.  Including female perspectives in the decision-making processes, then, is kind of a no-brainer.

And here’s the thing: even while women make up less than 20% of the startup sector, those companies that do include women generally perform better.  In fact, studies have shown that an average of 30% of companies with more gender diversity had better success rates from IPOs.

So what’s the problem?  Isn’t it time to drop the gender imbalance in the startup scene?

Looks like Muuyu is ticking the right boxes after all.

Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content with Muuyuand a co-founder of the company.  Born in Ireland she has close to 20 years’ experience working in the areas of PR, communication and journalism.  She is also the editor of the Muuyu blog.  Siobhan has been practicing yoga on and off for most of her adult life.  However it was while doing a post-natal yoga class when pregnant that she really began to connect with her practice and she has been a regular practitioner ever since.

Connect with Siobhan here.

The Roots of Muuyu

It was back in 2007, whilst doing my teacher training that I registered the name Muuyu.  Being from Zimbabwe, I knew that the tree was a really positive, powerful symbol of stability and peace. It was also only 5 letters, 3 of them the same, and available as a dotcom!  My idea at the time was to create a social network to connect all the great people I met on teacher training, most of whom I still haven’t seen for over seven years.  However, at the same time that I was thinking about this a new platform called Facebook was really starting to take off …so that put an end to that idea!

Following my training I returned to Australia, which was where my family had moved, and it was there that the idea of Muuyu as a live interactive yoga platform, connecting like-minded people, really started to take shape.

My Dad and I were sitting on a bench in front of our house looking out across the sea. We began to chat about family, about staying in touch, and also about this new business idea that was slowly percolating in my mind. He said it was a pity I was going back to China, where I was living at the time, as he had wanted to do my yoga with me.

My first introduction to yoga came from my Dad.  As a child I’d watch him do Richard Hittleman’s Yoga from a book.  This was back in the Seventies in Africa, so waaaaay progressive then!

Talking to him that day outside our home in Australia, everything suddenly became clear to me.  I realized that even though I was living on another continent, I still wanted to be able to connect with my family through yoga. I wanted to be able to do live classes with them, and, in fact with everyone.  I just had to redefine how that connection could happen against the obvious geographical barriers.  That was when Muuyu was born.

I wrote my first business plan in 2008 and tried to find a video conferencing platform that would enable me to realize my vision of live, interactive yoga practice in real time.  But this was 6 years ago and the technology was still way too slow and way too expensive.

So I built my own.

Not me personally, of course, but through connecting with partners and friends who were way smarter than me.

And now, here it is.   I hope you like it.  I think this platform might become really useful to a lot of people, both experienced and new to yoga.

And hopefully our mantra will shape how Muuyu evolves.  And what is that mantra?

Redefine Connection.

Please Enjoy!