Season 1,
24:48

Be Present: Starr Barbour of STILLGOING

July 07, 2017
Starr Barbour of STILLGOING

Starr Barbour, Founder and CEO of STILLGOING (photo credit: Sandra Garcia)

Natalia and Gina get the 60-second pitch from Starr Barbour, whose platform STILLGOING facilitates live meditation sessions. In the Legal Minute, other professional services startups need. Plus, this week’s Investor Take from Ruth Ann Harnisch and The Harnisch Foundation.

Music courtesy of Seven Seas Music (a Pipeline Angels portfolio company!)

 


 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

by Alyssa Hrenyk

Natalia: Hi everyone, my name is Natalia Oberti Noguera. I am the Host and Creator of Pitch Makeover and I’m also the founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels, where we are changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs.

Gina: And I’m Gina Delvac, the Founding Executive Producer of Pitch Makeover. We’re taking the concept of a fashion makeover and applying it to startup pitches. Entrepreneurs pitch, we talk, and then we share some feedback on what they should keep, delete, and maybe even more important—add to their pitch. Our goal—help more voices, as Rihanna says, shine bright like the diamonds that they are.

And after the Pitch Makeover we have the Legal Minute with Mitzi Chang of Goodwin, answering burning startup legal questions, followed by First Pitch. And stay till the end for this week’s Investor Take from Ruth Ann Harnisch of The Harnisch Foundation.

Gina: This is Pitch Makeover, I’m Producer Gina Delvac [1:00] back again with Natalia Oberti Noguera from Pipeline Angels. Hi Natalia!

Natalia: Hey, Gina.

Gina: We have another fantastic entrepreneur here: Starr Barbour from STILLGOING. Starr, are you ready for your one minute pitch?

Starr: Let’s do it!

Gina: Alright. When you’re ready, set, pitch!

Starr: Hi, my name is Starr Barbour, I’m the founder and CEO of STILLGOING. We’re a one-of-a-kind service, we’re offered on both mobile and on our web platform. We can find a highly curated set of coaches that offer mindfulness and meditation training. The key with our service is that everything we do is live. We don’t do anything pre-recorded. We’ve curated every single coach so that we hope you’ll have a wonderful meditation and mindfulness training experience. We offer one-on-one sessions, as well as group sessions. The feedback so far has been *amazing*. And [2:00] we’re working with Zoom based here in San Francisco who helps us connect our coaches and our users. So, hopefully you’ll really enjoy our service and as we continue to grow we’ll improve upon our offering. So…

Gina: Fifty-eight seconds.

Starr: I was, like, looking at the timer! [Gina laughs] I screwed up looking at the timer!

Natalia: Starr you mentioned – it was interesting because you – in your pitch – you started off saying that you’re one-of-a-kind, we can find you via mobile and via web platform. And *then* it was like I finally got to hear what you were.

Starr: Oh, okay. I’ve got you.

Natalia: You know, and you talked about where – you know, like, where we can find mindfulness coaches. Would love to hear a little bit about, like, how did you get into this?

Starr: Ohhh.

Natalia: You know, like, what’s your background?

Starr: Sure, sure, sure. So, I used to be an executive at Accenture a couple of years ago and as part of that process you get, like, personal coaching and uhm…one of my coaches [3:00] – the lady that was assigned to me – she actually got me into meditation and she was like, “hey, you know, this would be good for you from a professional standpoint.” And then I started having some – I have an auto-immune disease, so she said, “this will help you also physically.” And then my – my doctor even said it.

And so you know how, like, you hear something three times and you’re like, “oh God is talking to me.” So then I started meditating uhm in DC. In Bethesda, Maryland there’s a good that meets every Wednesday led by this, kind of like a Guru Tara Brach, and I started going to that and then one thing after the next and it just changed my whole life. It calmed me down and it helped me, like, just centre myself. And, you know, this has been a challenging couple of years, I lost my mom last year. Through that process though I even gained more value from the experience because I have like a hundred and ninety-three coaches now and, like, literally everyday [4:00] while were living in Jon Hopkins, they would, like – you know, someone would call and say, “hey you want to sit and just, like, meditate and want to get still together? For, like, ten, fifteen minutes?” And then it even turned into we’d have, like a meditation circle at the hospital on her floor with her nurses and some of the doctors and some of the other family members.

So, that’s the origin of how I started meditating and built into my life. And then, when I started seeing what it did for me, I wanted to give it to other people. And I know I’m – at the time – was, like, super busy, always, like, on a plane and meetings and stuff. So, like, leaving work to go, like, an ashram or to go to – DC actually does have a lot of, like, little mini Buddhist temples and stuff. But it’s still inconvenient. So I said, “well let’s find a way to connect people to the resource, but connect them in a way that’s timely, so…”

Natalia: And Starr, first of all, sorry for your loss [5:00]. I’ve been keeping you and your family in my thoughts. You mentioned that you have one hundred and ninety-three coaches on the platform.

Starr: Yeah.

Natalia: How many users do you have?

Starr: So, right now we just opened it up, March 16th. And I want to say – I should have looked at my numbers this morning – a hundred and seventeen, a hundred and eighteen actual paid transactions. Because I look at transactions now. [Laughs] I used to look at downloads, but now I look at transactions. I’m learning! So, I equate that to probably about, you know a hundred and seventeen, probably sixty percent of that – or, I’m sorry, forty percent of that – is probably re-users. Because we’ve had people that are like, “oh I use it every (whatever) Wednesday” or something. So, let’s say probably eighty customers thus far.

We did a soft – we haven’t done, like, a real, you know, like, *launch* if you will? Our coaches have actually been the people that have been promoting, being like, “hey, I’m doing this class on STILLGOING.” “Hey, these hours, I work for STILLGOING so if you want to [6:00] reach me.” So, at some point, once we figure out some of the kinks – you know, because we’re in beta – we’ll do, like, a real publicized launch and, like, all of that stuff. But, you know, we’re self-funded. So, you know, we do what we can with what we have. [Laughs]

Natalia: How big is your market? And what would you describe your market as being?

Starr: Sure. So, we measure our market based on Headspace and Calm. And we kind of said, “well they are, like, the intro. They got people interested in this space.” Right? And they’re private so a lot of their figures are isolated. But from what we can see just from, kind of, like, the Apple and the Google Store numbers in terms of downloads, which doesn’t tell you users, but at least downloads, I mean they’ve got…I think Headspace had something like 12 million downloads over, you know, a certain period of time, like a couple of years time point [7:00]. Insight Timer and Calm are relatively similar and they’re growing their space. They actually are watching us, which is kind of funny. We saw – you know on LinkedIn you kind of see – I was like, “oh…Headspace? Calm?” So, yeah, so they’re growing. I know Calm is looking to do – I don’t want to say something similar – but they’re going in the virtual reality space. I know they just secured US$23 million in funding to move in that direction.

So everybody – so the market’s strong. We said that they broke the market which is really great.

Natalia: Well, how are you different from them?

Starr: So, what makes us different is that we’re live. So, what that means is that you see your coach, they see you, on your laptop or on your uhm, if you have an iOS phone, we’re not on Android yet. They see you, you see them, you’re able to tell them what your intention is for the session if it’s a one-on-one session. If it’s a group it’s more like a webinar [8:00], you see them, they can also – depending on the class size – they can choose to see the participants. So, usually when there’s, like, under five people in the class the coaches like to see. There’s like little boxes, you can see their faces. For the ones that we’ve had like sixty people, obviously that’s not doable. And there’s a little chat window and the classes are more structured meaning the coach has a defined, like, “this is what I’m going to teach.”

So we have a really popular one right now it’s “Eight Weeks to a Better Brain.” And that one seems to be very popular. And then we have another one that – I’m just thinking of my numbers that are popular – there’s a gentleman that works for the army, he does army resiliency training so he’s doing, you know, real life resiliency training. And that one seems to be doing well as well, specifically for men for some reason.

So, yes, so, you know we’re – we’re taking this as an experiment [9:00]. So that was one of the things when about a year ago we came to Tara Brach – one of her weekly sessions – and we’re like, “hey I want to do this, but I don’t have any experts.” She help me find a gentleman that works in her organization and trained under her to kind of give us an expert-in-residence to kind of give us, like, “this is how a session should work” and just the things that we don’t know as, you know, layman.

Natalia: Laypeople.

Starr: Laypeople. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, laypeople, I like that! [Both laugh]

Natalia: #LanguageMatters

Starr: Language matters! It does. But, uhm, so, we – you know, we worked with him and he’s been super helpful. And so, that kind of connection. But one of the things she said is, you know, “take it as a project so that you’ll be flexible in how you adjust, how you pivot, and being able to see and hear the feedback that people give you and not take it personally. Especially since your money and your time is tied into it.” And that’s been [10:00] really, really excellent advice because initially – up until I would say about a month ago – we really focused on “we want to be just like Calm and Headspace” in the sense of direct-to-consumer. And we’re going to keep doing that model, but we’ve been getting calls directly from organizations who are like, “oh this would be great, I’d love to have my company have this for their employees.” And after about the third person that called one of them being Accenture – my old boss – he’s like, “I see you’re doing something cool,” we’re now making a pivot to: we’re going to put our funds and our energy to really focus that on the employer space. So, and hopefully that’ll be a good pivot, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to hear that if I hadn’t, kind of, kept in the framework of “this is a project, this is a process,” and the project and the process is what the value is. It’s not [11:00] money, money, money, money. That’s at least my mentality, so…

Natalia: And money is important, it’s about doing well and doing good. Uhm Starr, are you ready for your Pitch Makeover?

Starr: Ohhhh I think I am! [Laughs]

Natalia: So, I want you to keep how you are a live platform, you know, one-on-one group. I want you to delete Zoom. You know, this is about STILLGOING, this is your pitch. Of course, if anyone asks follow up questions you can talk a little bit more about the details of the tech. I want you to delete those *extra syllables* those extra words so that you can leave more room for –

Starr: The story?

Natalia: –more awesome space. I want you to add your background. You know, you were an executive at Accenture. And especially underscore that you ran technical projects at Accenture and that’s one of the reasons that you are *the person* to be running this. You know, there are all of investors that especially if someone isn’t a cis, straight, white guy [12:00], they’re already thinking about who to replace as the CEO because they’re like, “we need an executive running this,” and guess what? You already are an executive and a founder. So, make sure that they see that you’re bringing that additional expertise to the table.

And the other part – and this is where I’m going to show my Pisces – confession: I love first user founders. And you came up with STILLGOING because you saw a need in the market for it with your, like, super busy hectic schedule as a consultant at Accenture. You know, the auto-immune disease that you mentioned to us, you were, you know, you are in effect the first user of STILLGOING. So, sharing your own mindfulness story, your own reason why you realized the power and the need to be still [13:00]…and yet, going.

And then, numbers! You mentioned one hundred and ninety-three coaches in our conversation, that’s powerful! And I’m glad you brought up the B2B pivot because guess what, even though the media and the press don’t generally focus on those stories or highlighting those sorts of companies, that’s really where the money is. Because that’s – those are the peeps who actually have the funds to, like, pay. Pay for the monthly subscription services or whatever you end up doing in terms of the payment plans.

To recap: keep that you’re live, one-on-one, you know, group. Delete: Zoom. This is about STILLGOING, it’s not about them. Delete: those extra syllables that, you know, could make room for more stuff that is even more important. Add: add your experience as an executive at Accenture, running technical projects. Add your first user founder story [14:00], you know, both…with…having to juggle that super busy schedule as a consultant and the auto-immune disease that you mentioned. Add: your mindfulness story. Add: some stats, the one hundred and ninety-three coaches. Add: your pivot, you know, like, going to enterprise where the money is, that’s where the money is. Maybe not necessarily where the media or press however, that’s where you’re going to be able to scale. And add: the industry expertise that you have been able to secure in your advisory team.

Gina: Are you ready for your second pitch, Starr?

Starr: Yes, I am.

Gina: Ready? Set? Pitch!

Starr: Hi, my name is Starr Barbour, I’m the founder and CEO of STILLGOING. We’re a live, guided meditation and mindfulness service. We have currently one hundred and ninety-three coaches on our platform. You can reach our coaches either for one-on-one sessions, or join one of their pre-scheduled group sessions.

[15:00] Why STILLGOING? So, I, at one point, was a busy executive at Accenture, I was on a plane every week, I ended up finding out I had an auto-immune disease, and the universe kept telling me I needed to learn to meditate: my doctor said it, career coach said it. And so, eventually I said, “okay, I’m going to learn to meditate.” I connected with some industry experts in order to learn from my own sake, my own practise, and after finding the benefits I just decided “wow this could change people’s lives if they had access to the same thing that I did.” So, I love tech. I worked in technology and I figured, “let’s connect the users with some expert coaches and STILLGOING was born.

Currently, while we’re still doing our direct-to-customer play, again the universe has spoken, we’ve got companies coming to us asking for STILLGOING for their employees. So we are now making a pivot [16:00] to offer our service as a B2B offering, uhm as, like, a non-cash benefit for employers. So…that’s STILLGOING.

Gina: One minute, twenty-seven seconds.

Starr: [Laughs] Ah, damnit!

Gina: Great job, Starr. You packed a lot and it takes a while to get to that really succinct one minute pitch, so thank you for playing along with us.

Starr: No you guys are helping me, thank you.

Gina: What did you think of the Pitch Makeover process?

Starr: I loved it because it’s helping me think of my business and myself as something I need to sell. And so, I come from a different – you know, a different space. And so, as a woman specifically growing –like, kind of, growing up in corporate, like, I worked at GE, and Accenture, these are old school corporate companies, it’s a different mentality. So this is super helpful to teach me how to – you know, be present in the room and be present with what I have to offer and not, “oh well, this person and that person.” [17:00] You know, taking all of the – like, take the names out. I, myself and my company are the focus. So, this is, like, very, very helpful. It’s, like, deep. I’m, like, feeling it right here. I’m like, “oooo that’s a thing that I *need* to do.”

Natalia: I love that you talked about being present because in some ways it’s a full circle. STILLGOING is about being present and people get the idea of, like, “let’s be present,” in terms of, like, outside of work. The thing is that being present is a practise that can apply across, you know, like, work, not work, playtime, you know, fun, not fun. So, thank you for that because I think that’s a really great message for our audience. You know, when we’re thinking about even the concept in your name with I love, STILLGOING. That’s actually really important to do in the business world.

Gina: We’re back with the Pitch Makeover Legal Minute with Mitzi Chang.

…it’s important to have legal counsel [18:00] early on and so that their documentation looks good and by the time they’re ready for an investment it’s not a whole mess that scares the investor away. What are some other professional services that go a long way towards making sure things look well run and that your company is ready to be invested in.

Mitzi: That’s a great question. I would say, you know, good advisors who understand the industry that your company is operating who can, kind of, help frame questions for you and help you think through a problem. The other one that we always make sure that our clients have is good accountants who can help you with, you know, your taxes or structure questions or things that, you know, your lawyer may not be able to help you with.

Gina: How different is what an accountant does than a tax lawyer for StartUps in early stages?

Mitzi: It’s pretty different. I mean, the tax lawyer typically helps you structure transactions and, kind of, your entity whereas the accountant actually does the taxes and runs through – helps you run through pay roll and things like that, more on a day-to-day basis [19:00].

Gina: Thanks, Mitzi!

Mitzi: Thank you!

Gina: This has been the Legal Minute on Pitch Makeover.

And now we’re back with entrepreneur Starr Barbour and our segment First Pitch.

Gina: Tell us about your first time pitching.

Starr: Oooooo. [Laughs] There was like an FBA Innovate-Her pitch competition. It was so bad! [Laughs] It was really bad because I think I focused on all of the things, you know….you chopped. I focused onthat was like what the pitch waswas the stuff you chopped. I was like “ahhh” rambling and it was—it wasit was bad. I actually *did* win the competition though, crazy enough, because they loved the idea and then they were, like, on my website while I was pitching and they’re like, “So you didn’t tell us about your business, we actually had to look it up.” And were like, “Why didn’t you tell us X, Y, and Z?”

So…it was bad [20:00]. [Laughs] It was really bad. This would have been great advice. And then I rambled as well because I was nervous. So, yeah. So, it was bad. [Laughs]

Natalia: Have you been doing a STILLGOING session before going to your next pitch? [Laughs]

Starr: Yeah! You know, that’sthat’s funny you ask. Yes, and yes. So, before we did South By Southwest, Mike, my business partner, he and Iwe sat with one of our coaches and, you know, we just, kind ofwe did a whole, like, visualization, a journey quest, which I know sounds, like, you know, crazy. But it was about, “Okay what’s the journey of the day going to be? What do you decide the day will be?” And then that’ll happen, but we had to choose it. And so that’s one really *awesome* example. And we killed it.

And then most recently, I think two weeks ago, I was in Houston and I pitched for Walker’s Legacy. They had a business pitch competition, like a national thing, and I won. I won US$5,000 [21:00] which was nice. And, same experience, except I justwith one of our coaches. I’d gone on the app and was like, “Whoever’s available! I need to like, get still!” And so, we just focused on, you know, being present and sharing the goodness of what we have and who I am then letting the rest flow. So, it worked! Both times!

Gina: Congratulations!

Starr: Thank you.

Natalia: Well, congrats onI love how youwhat is this thing that journalists say? Like, you buried the lead. Like, with the firstyour firstthe first pitch was like…you won!

Starr: Yeah, I did win!

Natalia: Congrats, you know, you won!

Starr: I did win.

Natalia: And, it’s like, when we think about those voices that are the ones that are extra projected [Starr laughs] into the media and the press, it’s likethey’re like, “Yo, I won!” That would have been it. Right? And like mic drop, right?

Starr: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Natalia: And congrats on Walker’s Legacy. I’m a *proud* Board Member of Walker’s Legacy.

Starr: Nice!

Natalia: And that’s how I met Natalie Madeira Cofieldwhat she’s doing [22:00]. For our listeners, Walker’s Legacy is named in honour of Madam CJ Walker who was the first self-madeself-made millionaire *woman*.

Starr: Yes.

Natalia: And it just so happened

Starr: She’s black!

Natalia: to be that she’s black. Yeah!

Starr: It just so happened!

Natalia: You know? It just so happened. People know about Sara Blakely, we need to get more people to know about Madam CJ Walker, so congrats on that win.

Starr: Yes, thank you.

Natalia: I have two Pitch Makeover Tips and you’re going to tell me which one we’re going to use.

Starr: Okay.

Natalia: You mentioned something really important, Starr. And so this is kind of, like, you’re inspiring this Pitch Makeover Tip today. Which was: you said that at the beginning you were so focused on downloads.

Starr: Yes.

Natalia: And now you’re looking and focused on transactions. So, this episode’s Pitch Makeover Tip would be each number tells a different story. So, entrepreneurs remember…and actually guess what? Corporate peeps: also the same thing. This is across the board! Each [23:00] number tells a different story. Thank you, Starr!

Starr: Thank you. Namaste.

Gina: This season’s Investor’s Take is brought to you by Ruth Ann Harnisch and The Harnisch Foundation. And today’s Investor’s Take is: do improv. Or, if you’re Ruth Ann, fund a leadership program for girls ages eight to thirteen that teaches leadership skills through improv.

And how can improve help young women develop skills and entrepreneurs, Natalia?

Natalia: And we’re not forgetting about you young femmes. The first thing generally people think about when they think about improv is the whole “yes, and!” Eliminate the “buts” in your vocabulary! And so, it’s a really great skill for entrepreneurs to become – guess what – more flexible. And be able to – what is the other, like, very trendy word? To pivot! Right? Like, and improv actually [24:00] helps to mentally practise that sort of ability to pivot, to be flexible, to be adaptable. And hopefully you’ll find it fun, as well.

Gina: Thanks again to Ruth Ann Harnisch and The Harnisch Foundation and for sponsoring Pitch Makeover and for creating Funny Girls.

Natalia: And!

[Both laugh]

Gina: Subscribe to Pitch Makeover anywhere you’re listening now including GooglePlay or Apple Podcasts where we’d love for you to leave us a review. More information and show notes are at pitchmakeover.com and we’re everywhere on social media @PitchMakeover.

Natalia: Thanks for joining us. This has been Pitch Makeover. Now go out and take over!

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