Imagine that you wake up, get your daily cup of joe, turn on your computer and start teaching to dedicated yogis all over the world all in the comfort of your own home. Namastream is a product that allows teachers and studios to do exactly that through a virtual studio platform! We had an opportunity to ask Jennifer Barcelos, CEO and Founder of Namastream, about her program and how it could change the business of yoga. Read on to learn about this new tool and how it could drive your yoga business towards success!
What is Namastream?
Namastream is a comprehensive, virtual studio platform that allows yoga studios, boutique gyms, and independent teachers to teach, train, coach, and serve their clients online. It is your own brand, your own site, and your own community. You price your classes and programs however you want and you keep the revenue.
What inspired Namastream?
I have a personal connection to (and love of) yoga. I started practicing at an ashram in Nepal during a summer college break, and I’ve never looked back. At the end of law school, and right after losing my mom to cancer, I began exploring teacher training programs to deepen my practice and to bring some personal healing into my life. I always knew that being a yoga teacher wasn’t my personal calling, but I also knew that I wanted to explore creating something in the yoga community. I set out to see if there was a need I could fill. After interviewing over 70 yoga studio owners and managers across North America about their own business experiences, I realized that many of them were facing challenges in scaling their brick-and-mortar studios. It was risky and expensive to grow. I saw a real need in the market for an online solution to help grow local yoga and wellness businesses, so that’s what we created with Namastream. Within weeks of our beta software getting released, we were approached by many studios, as well as hundreds of teachers looking to bypass the brick-and-mortar model altogether.
How has creating this program changed your life?
I believe that starting a technology company has been the single most empowering experience of my life. It has been really challenging for me — something that has tested my limits more than anything else I’ve ever tried to accomplish. Being a female founder in the startup world is really messy. I’ve had to push through a lot of limiting beliefs over the past few months and I’m really proud of the experience that I’m modeling for my little girl. I believe that there is a lot of brokenness in the world and that building beautiful things, with our minds, our hands, and our words, is our responsibility and our gift. This project, this company, is my way of serving right now.
What were some of the most important things you learned in the process of starting your own software business?
Honestly, I feel like a totally different person than I did before starting Namastream. I’ve realized that technology is a major currency of power in our culture. If we don’t play a role in defining what gets architected, someone else is going to control the options available to us. Online wellness has been controlled by bigger consumer-driven companies for so long. Teachers and trainers on some of those platforms make less than $100 per quarter. I wanted to build a business tool for those studios and teachers — something that they could build a real livable income from.
On a more tactical level, I feel like I’ve earned an MBA in real life business. From setting up the corporation to mastering digital marketing to hiring to product development — all of this was brand new to me. Along with the help of my team, I just took about 500 people (mostly yoga teachers) through an intensive 40 day social media training program online. Two years ago, I hardly used Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family and now I can build websites, teach digital marketing, and manage a team of software developers. Really, we are all capable of so much more than we realize.
What advice do you have for people who are considering teaching at home?
If teachers are considering teaching at home, they need to really understand who they will be serving and identify what those students are looking for. You shouldn’t expect that you are going to film some videos in your living room and then be able to compete with YogaGlo or DailyBurn. Namastream provides a platform for teachers who don’t want to mess around with the technical headache of building their own custom online interface. It is like paying rent (very inexpensive, digital rent) — but still requires the work of building a brand and a business.
Teachers, your students come to you because you represent something very specific and very personal. You are their teacher for a reason. Your job is to figure out which types of students you want to work with and what those students would like from an online class or program. Once you know that, the rest is pretty simple. And it can be quite lucrative.
The benefits of teaching online are pretty clear: freedom and flexibility. Geographic freedom, as well as financial freedom. One of our clients who used to own a small studio cried with relief when she realized that she’d be able to take a vacation for the first time in 10 years without it having a major impact on her business. You’re able to establish a teacher relationship to those students who you meet while on retreat in Bali. You’re also able to teach your students back home while in Bali on that retreat. Win-win!
What is your mantra and why?
“Be Kind. Be Brave. Be Love.” This is what we strive for as a company and as individuals each and every day — in what we are building, in how we interact with our clients and partners, and in the ways we approach problem-solving. We have a whole page on our site devoted to the quotes and words of wisdom that inspire our team.
Can you tell us one fun fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
While working as a climate change lawyer, I once fed wild hyenas during a trip to Ethiopia. I’m a total adrenaline junkie (hence the strong need for yoga in my life), and this was not the smartest decision. I’m still not sure that my husband has forgiven me for that (or the rogue helicopter flight through the Cambodian jungle).
Watch the video below to learn how Namastream works!
We’d like to thank Jennifer for sharing her story and inspiration with us. If you’re interested in building your own virtual studio or learning more about the software, Namastream provides scheduled software demonstrations and a Gear Pack to get started.
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