Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight: MOJO Yoga
MOJO Yoga is uniquely special for our focus on helping yoga teachers, or what we like to call “yogapreneurs.” MOJO is the only platform dedicated to helping yoga teachers sharpen their skills and accelerate the growth of their businesses.
Name: MOJO Yoga
Location: Maui, HI
Product / Service Offering: MOJO Yoga is a platform for yoga teachers to grow their businesses and connect with their students outside the studio in one convenient web-based platform, offering on-demand videos, premium courses, and live group and 1-on-1 sessions for students with any of our community of international yoga teachers.
Co-founder Interviewed: Jean Marie Johnson, CEO and Co-founder
This article is part of our Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight Series featuring female entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I’m a gritty yogi, frothing surfer, technology lover, obsessive doggie mom, serendipitous entrepreneur, and persistent optimist.
When I completed my degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, I had no idea how handy it would be for my future of creating and implementing the kind of outrageously ambitious world well-being ventures I work on today.
To date, I’m a registered yoga instructor with E-RYT500-level certification, the highest level currently certified by Yoga Alliance, the nation’s largest certifying body. I’ve worked hard to co-found and boot strap a few yoga and lifestyle business iterations along the way and have finally found my happy place with MOJO Yoga. I’m thrilled to bring my vision of personalized online yoga to a growing worldwide mob of students and teachers alike.
My ultimate vision is to make MOJO a hub for all the tools one might need to create and live a balanced, happy, fulfilled lifestyle.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
We started MOJO Yoga as a team in April of 2016, and it grew out of our shared passion for improving our own lives, and a vision of helping others develop that skill, too. At the heart of all of our personal transformation is yoga. We want to make this practice more accessible than ever for anyone else who shares the same desire to become better human beings each day.
We are excited by and driven to realize our vision of MOJO as a global hub that improves the lives of yoga teachers and students one yoga practice at a time.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
As a yoga teacher, I saw huge barriers for teachers to access a monetized online platform for our teachings, in order to expand our teaching businesses beyond the limited reach of a local studio. Let’s face it, YouTube stardom is hard to come by, and the big online yoga companies focus on celebrity teachers who’ve already “made it”. Sure, a teacher could try to build and maintain a membership website by herself, but that’s a monumental time and money suck.
Our solution is a grassroots-style approach: any quality teacher can create classes on their schedule for MOJO to share their teachings globally and earn recurring commissions on the memberships they sell to students every month. It’s like getting to teach a class once and earn recurring income on it indefinitely. Plus, with our live group and 1-on-1 class offerings, teachers can still fulfill that need for direct teacher-student connection that we all crave for our practices to grow. With these truly unique offerings in the online yoga landscape, MOJO will be the go-to hub for all yoga teachers who want to teach online.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
MOJO Yoga is uniquely special for our focus on helping yoga teachers, or what we like to call “yogapreneurs.” MOJO is the only platform dedicated to helping yoga teachers sharpen their skills and accelerate the growth of their businesses. Our teachers love MOJO Yoga for the full-service website we offer, so they can avoid the hassle of building and maintaining their own membership site, and instead focus on sharpening their business and teaching skills in our expert training portal, so that they can offer top quality content to more students than they could ever reach in local studios and earn more revenue for their own teaching business.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
We’re a small, non-technical team with a technical product. So, we’ve really had to be creative problem solvers along the way! Our best asset really has been our ability to constantly think outside the box, create something out of nothing, and assemble seemingly unrelated puzzle pieces of technology into a beautifully functioning machine.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
So many! We utilize literally hundreds of resources all the time. But by far and away our best resource to date has been the Blue Startups Accelerator program we’re currently participating in here in Honolulu, HI. It’s a startup bootcamp that’s pushed us along at a faster pace than we’ve ever hit to date. To be clear, it’s exhausting and challenging, but so worth it. The access we’ve had to expert advisors and mentors has been invaluable to say the least. If you have a startup, do everything you can to get into an accelerator like this as early on as you can.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
The Blue Startups program was the first investment we secured, and we’re getting a lot of help in securing more through the program and the contacts we’re making here. The only thing I would do differently is start earlier. I simply lacked the confidence in myself as an entrepreneur to even apply to accelerators for fear of being rejected or not being good enough. Today, I would tell my past self to tackle that fear of rejection head-on, and the sooner, the better. The worst you can hear is “no.” Keep going until you get a “yes!”
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
I’ve found it very difficult to wrap my head around funding, valuations, negotiations, terms, etc. It’s one aspect of running a startup that seems to have the most conflicting opinions, arbitrary numbers, and shifting definitions. You could talk to 100 people and get 100 different opinions. That can be a very difficult thing for an early-stage founder to navigate.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
As a 3/4 women-owned business, and a yoga business at that, we’re finding it difficult to present our business to investors who don’t really “get” the industry we’re in, and perhaps don’t see too many female founders either. Overcoming that challenge lies squarely in our hands. We have to seek out as many new and different types of investors as we can. We know that the right investors for us are out there; investors who will be excited by the unique perspective of our female-dominated team and the disruptive product we’re bringing to a massive yoga market.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Affiliate marketing and social media campaigns. We work with affiliate marketing both within our business, making our teachers and ambassadors affiliates who promote membership, and with relevant partner products, especially on our podcast. We also have a lot of fun with social media campaigns to grow our audience, like yoga challenges, personality quizzes (i.e. “What’s your yoga spirit animal?”), polls to choose our newest clothing items to offer, and farting stick figure videos that explain our business (seriously, our most successful campaign to date by far). Those campaigns allow us to connect with and grow our audience in a fun and engaging way.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
Yes! MOJO Yoga is for all certified yoga teachers, and we want to grow a global teacher community. If you or anyone you know is a yoga teacher, spread the word and join us on our website at mymojoyoga.com. Let’s face it, we could all use a little more yoga in our lives. Let’s connect and grow together through yoga!
Advice to women entrepreneurs:
Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Know that you can take on anyone and any task that comes your way. Don’t let any stodgy old men get you down. Play their game, but play it by your rules. Always attend to your vision and your mission, and let that guide your way. The landscape of your business might have to be fluid and flexible every day, but a strong mission will always keep you on track to your highest and best good. Know that you are truly special and valuable for the work you’re doing, that you’re an inspiration to all the girls who will follow in your footsteps, and your work will change our world!