Success is not defined by numbers or growth; it is defined by the passion you carry in your soul to make it to the top. A perfect example of this is the incredible story of Yunha Kim, the Founder and CEO of Simple Habit, an award-winning app for daily stress relief. Founded in 2016, Simple Habit is now the leading meditation app in the App store and 2018 Google Play Award Winner for Standout Wellbeing App. The app boasts 40,000 five-star reviews. Simple Habit has raised $12.8 million from investors including Foundation Capital, Y Combinator, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and many other prominent CEOs in Silicon Valley including Dropbox’s CEO Drew Houston and Gusto’s CEO Joshua Reeves. Kim was honored by Forbes 30 Under 30 and Marie Claire’s New Guard. We are privileged to have the opportunity of publishing a few insights shared by Yunha: the newsmaker of this edition. In conversation with Yunha Kim.
What was your goal while growing up? Did you always want to be where you are right now?
When I was young, my dream was to be a professor because I loved academics. Eventually, that changed, and my goal was to be a doctor because I believe doctors can have a huge, positive impact. But I never thought of being an entrepreneur.
What drove you to enter in this field? What was your life like before Simple Habit?
After college, I worked as an investment banker on Wall Street in NYC. I then started my first company when I was 23. My thought process was simple – she had the least amount of risk in her early 20s. Her market salary was low, and she did not have a family to feed. If there was any time to take a risk, that seemed like the best time. My excitement triumphed a fear of failure.
After I sold Locket, I moved to California. The stress of building Locket led me to build a meditation habit. I continued to meditate daily while attending SGB. During her first year, Yunha was intrigued by the idea of building the “Spotify of meditation” where hundreds of experts could offer their meditation content to stressed out individuals like herself and she used my own savings to bootstrap the project.
Simple Habit started as a passion project while she was attending Stanford GSB.
After launching Simple Habit, Yunha started receiving amazing feedback from people around the world. People kept writing in, telling them that their product was changing lives. When she saw the business, model was successful, and Yunha dropped out of Stanford GSB to focus full-time on building Simple Habit into the destination people trust for their mental wellness. Simple Habit went through Y Combinator in April 2016 and again in 2018. They are now backed by Foundation Capital, YC, NEA and prominent investors like CEOs of Dropbox and Gusto.
What have been the best parts and toughest parts of your journey? Brief us about the marvelous journey. If possible, kindly help us with statistical insights as an overview of your individual achievements.
The best parts have been building a strong team of great people and having a positive impact in this world. The toughest part has been making hard calls; whether it is about people or prioritizing work, there is always so much to do, and you must decide what you want to build first.
Today, millions are using our product and we have over 40,000 five-star reviews raving about how Simple Habit has changed their lives. We graduated YCombinator in 2017 and again this year, when we raised our series A led by Foundation Capital. In the last year, we’ve grown 10x.
Have you achieved all that you had desired? Tell us about the moment when you realized that your hard work has finally paid-off. What keeps you driven and determined towards work?
No, I’m just getting started! I don’t think I’ll be satisfied until billions of people are using Simple Habit to reduce daily stress and live better lives.
What are the most important characteristics that make an individual a successful entrepreneur?
People are the heart of a business. Having a good intuition about people and recruiting the right team members is critical for success. Also, resilience and tenacity are important characteristics. As an entrepreneur, you’re here to play the long game, which means you’ll endure challenge after challenge. This leads me to self-care. As an entrepreneur, you are your number one resource. Taking care of yourself and knowing how to prioritize your well-being matters.
How do you impart the same upon your colleagues, employees and children?
One of our company values is Ownership. We empower every employee at Simple Habit to have agency to make this company and our world better. As part of this, we encourage employees to take meditation breaks at work using our meditation pods. We foster a feedback culture so that each one of us can continue to grow and learn through challenges.
Brief us about the services that Simple Habit provides and tell us why customers choose you? Simple Habit is an award-winning app for daily stress relief. Simple Habit offers a personalized approach to your mental wellness needs. Discover more than 2,000 guided audio sessions from world-class meditation teachers, therapists and coaches. Simple Habit helps busy people care for their mental wellness in just 5 minutes. Founded in 2016, Simple Habit is now a top-rated meditation app in the App store and boasts 40,000 five-star reviews. Download Simple Habit for free on iOS or Android or visit www.simplehabit.com to learn more.
Simple Habit stands out from competitors in a few important ways:
– Variety of experts – We are a two-sided marketplace. We found top mental wellness experts from all over the world and invited them to one platform.
– Personalized experience – Users can save select interests and build a playlist. Also, users can select from a library of over 2,000 short meditations and audio therapy sessions for a variety of situations and moods (think Before a Date, Commuting, Can’t Sleep)
– More than just meditation – We’ve realized that beyond the human desire to meditate is an even greater human desire to reduce stress and cope with life’s challenges. That’s why we’ve invited therapists and executive coaches to create bitesize audio content.
Amidst all your responsibilities and roles at Simple Habit, how do you manage to balance between professional and personal life?
Weekdays I’m focused on Simple Habits. I dedicate my weekends to me and my personal life. I’ve also found ways to integrate wellness in bitesize format into my day. For example, I usually enjoy a quick 10-minute run in the morning, and I use Simple Habit a few times throughout my workday. When I have to set aside 30+ minutes for myself to go to the gym or for some other appointment, it’s hard to maintain that when my schedule is constantly changing. Only needing a few minutes here and there has made it easier for me to build a self-care habit.
What are your individual plans going ahead? What does the future hold for Yunha and Simple Habit?
Continue to build a product that people love. Grow this company, grow our team.
Simple Habit has been a major platform in facilitating good mental health among its customers. Yunha was able to act upon the problem as she experienced it herself but refused to succumb to the stress she faced. She took it up as a challenge and transformed it into her success path inspiring millions. Her journey is a motivation for us to face our fears, changing them into life experiences for a successful tomorrow.