The pandemic has accelerated many trends - yoga being one of them, seeing a global surge of 42% on top of its already upwards trending popularity. As a well-researched method for reducing the negative effects of stress, anxiety and chronic illnesses, yoga is not just a huge market opportunity it also has great potential for meaningful positive impact. BGV portfolio company Breathe Happy is on a mission to make yoga more accessible and effective for everyone. Their solution - a live yoga and meditation platform that brings classes from expert teachers to students from the comfort of their own homes - provides convenience, connection and authenticity. With their live classes already improving on the isolated one-way experience of Youtube yoga, Breathe Happy is also developing the use of computer vision and body tracking technology to ensure their online yoga experience is just as beneficial as an in-person class.
Having spent 13 years building a career across India, the US, Italy, Portugal and the UK, Breathe Happy co-founder, Shiti Rastogi Manghani, holds an MBA with a background in Electronics engineering. Here we talk to Shiti about the inspiration behind Breathe Happy, how the last 12 months have impacted the company and what their users are saying about their product. Olivia Wasson (BGV Communications and Events Associate): Thanks for joining me, Shiti. Could you tell me a little bit about Breathe Happy and what sparked the idea?Shiti Rastogi Manghani (Breathe Happy, Co-Founder & CEO): Sure! I’ve had a very varied career but I feel like I have found my calling with Breathe Happy. The idea was inspired by my own practice of yoga. Whenever I was travelling I would practice in hotel rooms and Airbnbs across the globe, because it was so important to me.I realised there was a gap. People from all over the world travel to India to learn and get their accreditation from the best teachers - we call them gurus. Many would take these skills back to the UK/US to teach students there. We wanted to connect those practicing yoga at home with the gurus in India, and so we created Breathe Happy.
"I feel like I have found my calling with Breathe Happy."
OW: You joined the BGV programme in Spring 2020, not long after the UK went into lockdown because of the pandemic. How has Breathe Happy developed over this year?SRM: We’ve been focusing on how we can apply technology in innovative ways to yoga. We have live online classes, hosted by top teachers in India and have built our own platform compatible with any device, specifically designed for yoga classes. When you attend a Breathe Happy class, you have a one to one view with the teacher - making it feel like a private lesson. The teacher, on the other hand, can see all the students. We’re now focusing on how we integrate AI, specifically machine learning, to help students improve their alignment in positions. The virtual platform will be able to identify your posture alignment, and will help you and your instructor to suggest adjustments or corrections. This will help you get better at your postures when doing yoga at home.
Read more about how Breathe Happy are using AI in yoga here.
OW: We recently launched our annual Impact and Learning Report. Can you tell me about the impact Breathe Happy is having on your users? SRM: As part of our partnership with National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and Innovate UK, we conducted research via our Move-Breathe-Connect online wellbeing program. This involved launching our video player in beta to 100 people, mostly experienced yogis rather than beginners or people we knew, and then collecting data into the users’ experiences. At this early stage we were expecting an average rating of 4-6 out of 10. The results were better than we could have imagined. Over 90% of users would recommend Breathe Happy to a friend and continue to use Breathe Happy after the study. We also saw that over 70% saw an improvement in their physical and mental health after the program. The qualitative feedback we received was incredibly positive. From issues such as insomnia or low blood pressure. It’s really rewarding to see the impact Breathe Happy is having on our users' lives.
OW: What role do you think BGV has played in helping you achieve this impact?
"BGV is at the very heart of our impact"
SRM: BGV is at the very heart of our impact. Our big break was being introduced to NICA. Amongst other things this allowed us to develop the Move-Breathe-Connect program and establish a route to market. BGV provides thorough and regular check-ins, valuable introductions (like the one to NICA) and general support - it’s all really tangible.
OW: Is there anything else you want to share about Breathe Happy? SRM: We’re actively fundraising so if any investors are interested do get in touch. We’re also looking for new talent in design, engineering and marketing roles so keep an eye on our socials for application dates. We also invite everyone who’s curious about yoga or looking for ways to get back into fitness over lockdown to join our free 7 day trial.You can keep up to date with Breathe Happy on: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter I LinkedinWe invested in Breathe Happy via our Spring 2020 tech for good programme.Applications for our Autumn 2021 programme are currently open for founders building tech for good businesses contributing to: a sustainable planet, a better society or healthy lives. Apply now for £30k investment and to join our 12-week support programme to help you launch and scale your business!
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