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Why did you start your start-up, which problem do you address and how do you solve it?

A few years ago I was trying to recover from an operation and was looking for an app that offered yoga and meditation that could support my healing process. At that time you could find this kind of content mainly on YouTube, there were already some meditation apps - but their content was all in English - and none of them was customizable to my personal needs.

At that time Ralph and I had already gained several years of experience in the development and management of digital products at a major German media company. So we decided to test whether a holistic self-care app based on your personal healing needs would attract the interest of potential users.

Our first test campaign on Facebook and Instagram showed that there was an overwhelmingly high interest, especially from female target groups, in such a holistic approach - and it showed that these target groups also had a high interest in healthy eating and mindfulness in general. This is why we developed our MVP as a holistic self-care app with +100 premium programs based on the emotions of our users.

What is special about your business model, what do you do differently?

Compared to our competitors, we offer the entire range of self-care: With the My Blossom Premium self-care videos you can practice yoga and Pilates, in different lengths and for different levels of experience, you can meditate indoors and outdoors, you get a wide range of healthy recipes - all based on how you feel today.
Our built-in emotion tracker and mindfulness diary allows our users to record their personal state of mind and positive moments every day, helping them to become more relaxed and satisfied in their daily lives.

Interested parties can subscribe to My Blossom on a monthly and annual basis with an appropriate discount. And our 7-day trial allows new users to try My Blossom for free with ease.

Ralph and I had originally planned to launch My Blossom as a freemium product, but switched to full premium shortly before the launch. Personally, I am delighted with this decision, as our In-Life Conversion Rates have now clearly demonstrated that we are on the right track.

My Blossom Founders: Julia and Marc Laukemann and their son Leander.

What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome at the beginning?

After our first successful market test, where there was no MVP yet, I tried to approach a few investors. At that time I was 6 months pregnant and still working full time. But with the birth of my son clearly in sight, no investor believed that we could make it.

That's when I decided to do a complete bootstrap: 3 months after the birth of my son we started to design and program our app, produce our content, build the My Blossom brand and plan our go-to-market. 10 months later, the My Blossom app was ready for launch.

So building My Blossom without funding, without a team in the background and with a little baby that I carried to every meeting was definitely one of the biggest challenges. Today I'm proud that we made it and I'm very happy that My Blossom has already helped hundreds of users to find more balance, energy and joy in their lives.

I wish there was a dedicated value for a founder's resilience, perseverance and dedication that we, as female, part-time founders and mothers, could refer to when proposing our startups to investors. As a former manager of quite different teams and mother, I can definitely confirm that women who show this level of energy every day are literally able to "move mountains" - and should be a valuable investment target!

What was the most valuable advice someone gave you during your start-up phase?

Definitely when reviewing our initial go-to-market assumptions. Unlike in a large company - which Ralph and I were used to - when you start your own start-up, you don't have a lot of budget to test prices, subscription logic or campaigns. So we relied on some very open-minded and brilliant ex-founders who shared their knowledge and experience with us. This helped us to make the right decisions just before the launch.

What has been your biggest success so far?

Definitely seeing how our funnel works and how our product is used. With a marketing budget of only 20.000€ we have managed to reach more than 15.000 downloads, 1.500 users have subscribed to My Blossom and our content has been used more than 20.000 times. We also generated a certain amount of media coverage (Shape, Fit for Fun and Brigitte, to name just a few, who are at the core of our target audience) and influential people started talking about My Blossom. All this gave me the confidence that My Blossom could possibly become something bigger than "just a self care app", which is our MVP today.

I want My Blossom to be a fulfilling destination for anyone seeking more balance and happiness in their lives. The idea behind My Blossom has changed my own life and I want to enable others to feel and live this happiness.

What are your milestones?

Closing our seed round soon, improving our product & emotion tracking, scaling our marketing, building a team, launching My Blossom at least in more (European) markets, testing and launching our planned coaching platform with real users - and finally making more than 1 million users happier and healthier.

What is your next challenge?

To get enough funding to reach our milestones.

What have you learned so far?

In a positive way I learn every day. We've all learned new skills, put our customers even more in the focus of all our decisions - but we've also learned that a successful MVP deployment, users who love your product, your conversion funnel works, and solid 5-year plans don't automatically make it easy for a start-up to get easy access to the right financing in Germany.
I am currently attending Y Combinator's Start up School (Y Combinator is one of the most successful start up accelerators in the US) and it is very refreshing to learn there that simplifying your messages will help you maximize your funding opportunities.

What would you recommend to other founders?

  • One: Go ahead and do it. It's the Doing Mode where you learn the most.
  • Second, obstacles are always opportunities. They make your brain more flexible in finding innovative solutions.
  • And last but not least: Build a diverse team with people who complement each other's skills and strengths, but also with people who share a set of core values.

Where did you get to know each other as a team?

Ralph and I met 10 years ago in a company office outside Munich, where Ralph applied for a job in my team, which at the time consisted of only 3 people and was faced with a big challenge: to provide the first live sports streaming service for German mobile phone users, with a short time-to-market, a small budget and at a time when almost nobody believed that consumers would be willing to watch live games on small screens.
So the starting point of our relationship was very similar to the journey we are now taking with My Blossom - with the difference that today we are seeing a much faster take-up by consumers when it comes to digital self-care products.

My Blossom at BayStartUp: Julia Laukemann and Ralph Karliczek.

Marc and I were originally friends, later we became partners and co-founders, and today we are not only husband and wife, but happy parents. We have both lived and still live quite stressful lives - which is why we encouraged each other very early in our relationship to find balance through yoga, meditation and mindfulness.

What has really gone wrong since your foundation?

There hasn't been a disaster from which we have had to recover, but there have definitely been a few decisions that I would make differently today. When you operate on tiny budgets during the bootstrap phase, you tend to try to make everything on your own. This extends the time to market and increases the risk of running into technical dead ends when you need flexibility to scale your solution. The next time I start a journey like this - if I ever do - I will make sure that external funding is anticipated to enable scaling up earlier.

What was the hardest rejection you ever got in a pitch?

Can I quote a sentence that I have heard several times? "Nice idea, let me discuss it with my wife." I was relieved to hear that Jessica Alba also heard this sentence several times from investors before her start-up - which is also primarily aimed at female target groups - finally took off.

Where do you see your start-up in 3 years?

Launched in at least 7 other markets, with our self-care approach, complemented by our coaching platform, which offers hundreds of thousands of users both reassuring and value-based happiness.

Do you still have a real social life since the start?

I have had more social life as a founding mother than I would have had without my start-up. I was blessed with a baby that was easy to carry around and sleep at the right time (e.g. during workshops and content shootings). And when your start-up challenges fulfill you, you don't experience this as stress and therefore remain a sociable person for your family and friends.

Do you have a role model, and if so, who is it?

Funnily enough, they're not founders, they're politicians. It used to be Hillary Clinton when I was younger. I admire women who try to drive change out of the system and don't back down when they fail. Today, it could be Ursula von der Leyen if she succeeds in transforming the EU into a continent free of fossil fuels and opens up to new economic logics and destructive innovations.

If an investor gave you 500,000 euros, what would you do with the money?

At My Blossom we have a very clear short, medium and long-term roadmap. 500,000 euros would enable us to implement our 5-year minimum basic plan for our self-care product in DACH. We would divide this investment into a budget to improve our back and front end, most of it to be scalable (which also allows us to invest in marketing) and a small part to hire a small team.

Suppose you are mayor of Munich for one day, what would you change?

If it was just for one day, I would invite the top managers of Munich's major companies to meet with the most innovative start-ups - and discuss how we can help transform Munich into a more digital, innovative city that is committed to a carbon neutral economy.

Who would you like to have dinner with and why?

Back to the role model I had for many years, Hillary Clinton: I wrote my first thesis in high school about her approach (as First Lady) to changing the healthcare system in the United States. Recently I had the opportunity to attend an event where she spoke to a smaller audience and her clear view of how our digital economy is linked to national and some international policy dynamics continues to fascinate me. To get the chance to have a real 1:1 with her would of course be a dream come true.

Who is the mastermind in your team and what is his superpower?

There is not one single mastermind in My Blossom, it is the composition of our different skill sets, backgrounds and experiences that make us an unbeatable team. And by that I don't just mean the founders, but the entire virtual team that we have built up from designers, engineers, content producers and marketers - all of whom are united in our mission to make people happier in their daily lives.

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