Based on the latest statistics from the Yoga Alliance, there are now over 36.7 million Americans who practice yoga and 65% of them say they have practiced yoga at home at least once. While in urban settings like Seattle, one can easily find a yoga studio within walking distance of their home, this is not always true for a large portion of the population in the US and even less true internationally.This means that more and more people are going online and turning to their digital devices for help when they feel like practicing yoga.
While there are tons of yoga-related apps on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, none have captured the heart of their users like the Down Dog App has – with stellar reviews across the board. The app has a 5 star rating on both platforms with over 3,000 reviews in the App store and almost 10,000 reviews in the Google Play Store. The Down Dog App has been downloaded over half a million times.
The surprising thing is that behind this successful app are just two developers with a passion of yoga based right here in Seattle. Ben Simon and Carlos Ormachea met back in college and in February 2015 decided to quit their jobs to start working full time on building the app. They eventually launched the iOS version of the App in August 2015 and then the Android version in March 2016.
The Down Dog App has now had over half a million downloads with currently around 50,000 users practicing each month. As of February 2017, there have been over 1 million practices through the App.
The Seattle Yoga News team had the chance to connect with Carlos to learn more about their journey and what is ahead, below is what he had to say.
Can you tell us about the team behind the Down Dog App?
Carlos Ormachea: Ben and I actually met in college at Brown University. We graduated a couple years apart, but we were both in the same a Capella group while we were there, so we spent a lot of time together. After Brown, I went to Harvard Law School and Ben went to work as a Software Engineer at Google. We stayed in touch, and when Ben was considering leaving Google to go to get a Ph.D. in Computer Science, I convinced him to try building a startup before committing to the academic path.
How did you end up deciding to launch the Down Dog App?
Carlos Ormachea: When we started, Ben was going through yoga teacher training to become a part-time yoga teacher. When he decided to make the app, he sat down and figured out that the most yoga teachers in Seattle teach is about 100 students per day. So that was the first goal – 100 people practicing with Down Dog every day.
There’s a quote by Archimedes: “Give me a lever long enough and I will move the world.” Anyone who has practiced Yoga knows that it’s an incredible tool for making your life better. Building an app that can reach people anywhere in the world was a way of taking that tool and turning it into a giant lever. With Down Dog as a lever, we now have about 7,000 people practicing with us every day. That’s like assembling a team of 70 of the best Yoga teachers and sending them off to travel all around the world to teach Yoga.
The most exciting thing that happened this year is that the Down Dog community crossed a million practices.
What is it that you think made the Down Dog app so popular?
Carlos Ormachea: There aren’t a lot of great programmers who are also obsessed with yoga, so no one has really taken the time to nail the technology side AND the yoga side. The first teacher we partnered with was Adrienne Kimberley, and anyone who’s taken her class knows that she’s a phenomenal teacher who gives great vocal instruction. I think the app really captures that.
What has been the hardest thing in this journey since you launched the first version of the App?
Carlos Ormachea: The hardest thing is picking what to do next! The Down Dog audience gives us so many great ideas to make the app better, but because there are only two of us, we have to be ruthless in how we prioritize.
What is coming up next for the Down Dog App in 2017?
Carlos Ormachea: What we’ve done with Down Dog is build a set of technology that allows us to take small amounts of recorded content and deliver nearly endless amounts of customizable classes to our audience. If you think about how fitness videos are made, your best case scenario is that a teacher teaches into a camera for half an hour and you get a half hour video out the other side. Usually, they’ll make mistakes and have to redo takes, but at best you put an hour in and you get an hour out. All of Down Dog is powered by roughly 18 hours of recorded content. To put it back in Archimedes’ terms, we built a technological lever that a teacher yanks down at one side and an endless stream of unique classes comes out the other side.
What we’d like to do in 2017 is take advantage of that lever by blowing up the amount of recorded content, specifically by expanding to more styles of Yoga. We’d like to do something even more athletic than what we’re doing, as well as something gentler. We’d also like to build in Ashtanga and Baptiste and other set styles. We’re also considering raising money, but we’d really only like to work with an investor who would support our relentless focus on making the product better, and we haven’t found that person yet.
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Published on Mar 9, 2017