On the launch of their new app, the team from Samten talk about their digital journey into the world of mindfulness and meditation, and how they will bring this to the people who need it most.
In the digital age we live in, technology has provided some incredible opportunities and convenient ways to connect us to whatever we seek in the world – including how to help ourselves with our own health and wellbeing.
Samten was born back in 2016, through the coming together of serial tech and innovation entrepreneur Jamie Watkins and Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten, who had a dream to bring meditation to both beginners and experts alike as they seek to bring a sense of positive mindfulness to everyday life, supporting mental wellbeing.
Working in partnership with Digital Wonderlab, they are embarking on the next stage of their journey to build a global compassionate community, and make an impact in the world starting with their new app.
How it all started
It all began with some serious challenges happening in Jamie’s life, and a chance meeting with Gelong. Having finished his masters degree in Glamorgan, Jamie built and sold several businesses from scratch and achieved his dream of becoming a millionaire. But reaching 40 years of age he realised that life was still so full of challenges and had so much more to offer than status and financial recognition of his hard work from study to accomplished businessman.
Jamie and his family experienced some challenging times, and he started to include yoga to his daily routine to compliment his running and exercise. Through yoga and concentrated breathing practice he found meditation, which helped him open up his mind to being more connected to the here and now.
“When you are in business you are always thinking ahead and planning, but you miss what is taking place right now. That is not good for the human mind long term, something I have really learned more about in this process is the importance of being present” explains Jamie.
Meeting Thubten, who Jamie describes as “the SAS for the mind” was quite literally life changing. Thubten has a history of teaching meditation to many people in large corporations as well as personalised one to one sessions, and has built a strong reputation for his work with mindfulness and meditation. Jamie made contact with the monk whilst he was on a visit to Wales, and soon after travelled to a monastery in Scotland to spend two transformational days with Thubten and his Abbot – in that moment Samten was conceived, and the story began of two like minded people wanting to make a difference in the world.
They decided together that they could bring something very special to society, and help people make some positive life changes. Whilst they had talked about launching an app to bring their vision to life, this was so much more than that; it was truly about building strong communities, initiating and developing the practice of supportive mental wellness through the power of meditation, and at the same time they would give 50% of their profits back to charity.
Returning to Wales, Jamie put together a great team to get momentum going, secured investment and found a partner to bring on board to develop the first app. Part of the original launch team was John Jepson, now Sales Director who worked closely with the founders to get the idea moving.
After a big launch during January 2018 in London spearheaded by Jamie, Thubten and celebrity Ruby Wax, the worst scenario ensued as the project didn’t land well with users, the experience was not where it needed to be.
Getting the User Experience (UX) correct
After a difficult few months of reflection, changes needed to be made - they parted company with the agency and made moves to rescue what they had, papering over the cracks to just keep going for a period of time with the existing app. Jamie searched deep inside to find the answers to what and how they were going to move forward and what they needed to do next. Answers came when he met Simon Delve on a football field, and a conversation started and quickly moved to the Samten idea, which in turn spearheaded the next stage of the project.
“Life is all about people and making the right connections at the right time, that’s what happened here. I completely understood the concept as soon as Jamie described it, and once I had seen the app idea, I was convinced I wanted to be part of this whole project. So, I flew to Ibiza just weeks later to convince Jamie to let me in! I hadn’t booked a meeting and found it tough to get into his diary – but once we talked again, we were firmly shaking hands on the way forward” recalls Simon.
Simon soon joined the business as Chief Operating Officer, bringing a fresh burst of belief and enthusiasm to the team, wholeheartedly supporting the purpose which was deep rooted in the others already. He helped reinvigorate the business in many ways and invested to support the push forwards to developing both the brand and the app idea at pace.
The next introduction was to Digital Wonderlab, and Nathan soon connected with Jamie, Simon and John to take the lead as CTO, and springboard the digital strategy into a great place alongside the team. Soon clarity of vision was supported by a clear roadmap against which the business is creating and building its digital ecosystem.
“Working with Nathan and the Digital Wonderlab team has been a breath of fresh air. They listened and worked with us to develop version 2, offering ideas along the way” adds John.
“The work that they have done on the UI and functionality is second to none. The values of Samten and Digital Wonderlab are very much aligned in wanting to help and make a significant difference in people’s lives. Digital Wonderlab are not just a partner, they are a trusted part of our team.”
Doing the right thing, and doing it right
The new Samten app is now live in both the Apple and Android app stores, representing everything the founding operational team wanted. They are clearly becoming a credible digital health company growing its customer base daily by providing guided meditation and mindfulness training for its users.
Jamie comments “I’ve worked with lots of software companies and developed literally millions of lines of code in my career, it’s so hard to nail many down to what is needed. For me, the perfect project is constructed of Quality, Cost and Time – you get the three areas right and that’s a pivotal project which is nigh on impossible to achieve. I can’t speak highly enough about Digital Wonderlab and Nathan, it’s unbelievable what we have managed to do together. We have a real product, and everyone involved is delighted as it has brought our vision to life.”
The team are very clear on their purpose and what this vision will help to achieve as they move forward into the next year – they are truly focused upon their ambition to make an impact through the work they have been doing, and are all passionate about making this come to life.
Jamie Watkins — Samten co-founder
“We are getting ready to tackle the biggest pandemic on the horizon across the world – which is mental health and wellbeing. This will overtake Covid as our biggest concern in society, and we have our sights set upon delivering the best user experience around helping anyone and everyone take one breath at a time into a better world”