In our hyperactive world it was only a matter of time before someone created a website to help us slow down. Calm.com, a free site and iPhone app created by designer Alex Tew and a friend, guides users through two-, 10- or 20-minute relaxation experiences in which they can view idyllic beaches or forests while listening to the sounds of birds or gentle rain.
In 2011 Tew, a longtime proponent of meditation, introduced a "fun side project": Donothingfor2minutes.com. When users open the site, it immediately begins a two-minute countdown while encouraging them to listen to the sounds of waves and, well, do nothing. If the mouse or keyboard is touched, a red "fail" message flashes and the timer resets. Within a week, the site had 2 million visitors.
"We knew we hit a nerve, that there must be a need out there to help people relax," says Tew, who is based in San Francisco. He immediately began working on the concept for Calm.com, which offers richer, moving scenery and three options for timed relaxation exercises.
Since its launch in May 2012 Calm.com has been attracting roughly 500,000 unique visitors per month, driven mostly by Facebook, Twitter and word-of-mouth. Tew believes the reason is simple: People understand the value of being able to relax for a few minutes but find it difficult to do so on their own.
Backed by $415,000 in angel funding acquired last February, Tew and his team recently moved to a subscription-based model. There's a free introductory program that teaches users the basics of chilling out; subscribers pay $10 per year to access premium programs like positivity, creativity, focus, energy, confidence and more.
"More than 30 percent of our business is return business, so we have a lot of people using it on a regular basis," Tew says. "Our goal is to turn those half-million [users] into multiple millions of subscribers."
Sounds like bliss.