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Interview: “Self-love is probably the hardest concept to train,” says Benjamin Blasco, Co-founder of Petit Bambou

Speaking with TechGraph, Benjamin Blasco, Co-founder of Petit Bambou (a wellness and meditation app) said, “Self-love is probably the hardest concept to train. This is probably where every internal tension and suffering start.”

Excerpts from the interview:

TechGraph: Before we start the conversation, could you please let our readers know more about your role at Petit Bambou?

Benjamin Blasco: I am the co-founder of Petit Bambou and manage the marketing and business activities for the company.

TechGraph: How does ‘Petit Bambou’ look like these days?

Benjamin Blasco: Petit Bambou is doing well and we are very excited to welcome new users from over 150 countries every day. We also have new experts willing to join the platform and contribute to building the largest and best-guided meditation catalog. We are all making an effort to do the right job and work towards a purpose that has become so crucial for us. 

TechGraph: How did Petit Bambou happen? What was the story behind the launch?

Benjamin Blasco: I was working with a tech giant and was traveling, multitasking, and working a lot at one point. However, all of this came with a price. 

I was not fully present in my life, work, family, or leisure but rather always caught up in the web of analysis, rumination, and anticipation. It was around this time that I decided to follow the advice of a friend and started practicing mindfulness. 

This made me realize how crowded and chatty my mind was. Sitting in silence and doing nothing for about 10 to 20 minutes per day was helping me become more grounded, centered, and enjoy the little moments of life. 

Since it was not all that easy to convince my friends in their 40s or others around me, I decided to explore how technology could help people to discover this practice and anchor this habit in their lives. I quit my job and created Petit Bambou with my friend Ludovic.

Ludovic and I, both experienced web entrepreneurs, decided to create a purposeful company called FeelVeryBien in August 2014. After discovering mindfulness for our practice and realizing we were surrounded by people who had everything to be happy and were not or by people in burnout, we had this crazy idea to hack happiness. 

We realized we may have to disrupt self-help publishing and personal development/life coaching with mobile innovations. To kick-start their B2C growth and embody wisdom and optimism, we decided to build the simple mobile product leveraging the brand platform and community of “Petit Bambou” character and his 910K fans Facebook page. 

We are now working hard to bring well-being coaching and mental training to the everyday life of consumers through mobile and web services, starting with mindfulness. Our mindfulness practice is what inspired us for this entrepreneurial (a French word by the way!) journey

TechGraph: Could you walk us through the key features offered by Petit Bambou?

Benjamin Blasco: Petit Bambou is an app that helps people to give mindfulness meditation a try. Many of us read about it and have heard about scientific studies proving its impact on mental health. However, very few of us start practicing and try to form a habit around it. We have a busy life wherein it is hard to find even 10 minutes of quiet moments. 

In such cases, an app is very convenient: you just have to open it, put on your earplugs, and meditate where and when you want: in the subway, in a queue, at home, at work, or on a train. At Petit Bambou, we have made it super simple and accessible with cartoons and very caring and patient teachers: we don’t need to be stressed by practicing meditation on top of the rest of course! 

The app is free to download with access to 8 meditation sessions for free, plus 3 daily meditations, a timer, and a cardiac coherence tool. One can explore, make up your mind regarding the practice and then decide (in full awareness) to subscribe to access to a large premium content catalog with 200+ sessions from the best mindfulness experts (on stress, anxiety, sleep, work, kids). 

We were recently awarded the title of the best mindfulness app for kids in the world. We have been also certified by Dekra/ Medappcare. Few universities are using our app to test mindfulness for specific populations regarding mental health topics.

TechGraph: How do you feel ‘Petit Bambou’ stands out from the calm app, Relax Melodies, Moshi, Loona, and others who are already in this business?

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Benjamin Blasco: Petit Bambou takes a unique approach to teach by relying on a community of the best local experts (different skillsets and voices) instead of using actor voices. It is the first major globally renowned mindfulness app to be in 6 languages besides English. The other languages include Dutch, Italian, German, Spanish, and French. We have the largest catalog in French, German, and Spanish. 

We follow a respectful and ethical approach for our users: no notifications/ popups, no discount to lure them, and no trick/nudge (for instance, a free trial that leads to automatic subscription without realizing it).

Petit Bambou also offers a rich free offer. This means 8 sessions for free in Dutch and 8 in English too. There are also free sounds/music, timer tools, and cardiac coherent tool. People can use it forever freely to make up their mind, and decide in conscience if they want to make it a regular habit. Our price-quality is also great and this is proven by our success in other European countries. Petit Bambou has been awarded as the best app for kids according to a scientific study from European University.

The combination of humor and wisdom is very efficient: fun animations and a funny monk with a strong message. Meditation is usually thought of as difficult and something akin to punishment. 

However, we have made it easy and fun through these features. Petit Bambou app proposes its full experience on Apple TV and is the only meditation app available on car play. Through a combination of ancient wisdom, local mindfulness experts, and funny animations you will master it in no time. Amid this uncertain, ever-changing world, you will finally find the joy, peace, and serenity that you are looking for.

TechGraph: What according to you is the scope of meditation and wellness service as this in the Indian market?

Benjamin Blasco: The Indian market has huge potential. This is because people are already aware that taking care of the mind and the body is very important for their happiness. However, they are also struggling to assign some time for it in their busy week. 

Work-life and digital distraction makes it even more difficult those days. The younger generation and even families need some moments to BE instead of always DOING something. This will become as massive as a sport in everyone’s routine, and brands like Petit Bambou will become as powerful as Nike.

TechGraph: The past few months have been challenging for businesses. How did you deal with the pandemic?

Benjamin Blasco: We received numerous testimonials of people who are sleeping better, enjoying the small pleasures of life, or have started being more compassionate towards their relatives despite promiscuity. Our program on anxiety was one of the most preferred. 

We also helped thousands of health workers and dozens of hospitals by providing them free access to the premium part of the app. The team was very engaged and committed and those positive feedbacks helped us to keep our motivation and focus. 

As with any other business, our whole company had to start working remotely. It is of course easier in our industry but from a human perspective, communication through videoconference is different. We do miss all the informal chats. 

On the product side, we got a lot of press coverage and all our records of connection were exceeded. This put a lot of stress on our tech platform. However, we have an amazing team that managed to adapt to everything to serve our customers in the best way possible.

TechGraph: Did you register any rise or fall in your platform during this nine-month phase?

Benjamin Blasco: We saw a sharp increase in the number of new users (from 5k/day to 15k/day during March-April 2020). Our servers were super stressed (ironically). In India, we saw strong traction in August and September 2020. We also noticed that our live sessions on Facebook or Instagram in local languages helped a lot of people and were very successful.

TechGraph: What, according to you, is the biggest pain point of mental health that needs to be addressed?

Benjamin Blasco: Self-love is probably the hardest concept to train. This is probably where every internal tension and suffering start (including the way you approach to add the habit of practicing mindfulness in a busy schedule).

TechGraph: What is the roadmap for Petit Bambou going forward?

Benjamin Blasco: We just launched an amazing new feature called DAILIES which lets you pick from a fresh meditation every day (you can even select the duration 8, 12, 16) and is less chatty. You don’t have to stress and scratch your head too much while browsing through our vast catalog. 

You can undertake a quick session to keep the habit. People are loving it so far. We are also planning to help people with creating habits since this is one of the hardest things to achieve. 

Going forward, we also plan to enrich our catalog of relaxing sounds and music with new themes like couples, forgiveness, burnout, mental preparation for sport, etc.

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