Interview With D Sharma- Founder Of Meditation.LIVE
Q. Name, Designation & Experience, Contact.
A. D Sharma (I go by D to everyone that knows me. When I first moved to the USA and was ordering a Starbucks, they asked for my name and could not understand Dipanshu, since then it’s been D)
Tech experience working at Nokia Research center in the early days of the mobile internet. Entrepreneurial experience by applying fail fast. Started a few companies, have invested in a few funds and companies. I hold several patents in various technologies.Best way to contact me is at d@meditation.LIVE
Q. About you ( As an individual )
A. I am an entrepreneur/inventor and investor. My passion is building products. While working for Nokia Research Center in the 90s, I realized not all my inventions would apply to Nokia, I left and started my own business, which marked the start of my entrepreneurial journey. I was born in Delhi in a middle-class family. I am married to my wife Julie. We have two dogs, Coco and Arya.
Q.Struggle & Success story.
A. Unlike what you read of success stories, mine has been one that success took a few iterations to happen. After leaving Nokia, I started V-Enable. The premise was simple: voice recognition combined with natural language processing will enable voice as an interface (think Alexa, Google Voice or SIRI). While the premise was obviously right, what as a first-time entrepreneur, I did not realize is that timing is everything. Too early might as well be a bad idea. We launched V-Enable in 2001, the days before 3G / Smartphones etc. By 2009 we had burned through a few million in cash and revenue/profitability was still out of sight. In 2009, we got rid of the speech recognition business and launched local advertising for mobile. We called this company xAd (X marks the spot or location and Ad for advertising).
In my years at V-Enable, I and the board of directors had hired different CEO’s to run the business while I focused on technology as the CTO. I was not ready to be the CEO. We started the business in San Diego, CA. I had hoped someone would buy the company, I would get a good exit and would not have to deal with the hassles of running the company as a CEO. But I have learned later in life, the founder has to do the tough job of raising money, hiring, firing, selling, being a product visionary and creating a great culture.
I was finally ready to be a CEO, and with xAD things looked quite different. Unlike speech recognition, advertising was already there, the internet speeds on mobile devices were much better. The phone had become smarter, apps were easier to code. There were app stores for launching apps. xAd grew from zero to $3M in the first year and $9+ year after. Eventually, we crossed well over $100M in revenue, raised over $100M and build a business that was global with a few hundred employees. The key to our success was understanding the ever-present GPS capability of a mobile device and using that to understand how to connect advert with a user. Turns out, location is quite a big indicator of intent!
Weather applications also transmit location, which is needed to give an accurate forecast. We made our biggest bet buying Weather Bug in 2016, which is a top 5 weather app on iOS and Android. It is one of the smartest acquisitions my team and I ever made.
While I learnt how to build a successful company, I also learnt I enjoy building than running large companies.
My wife and I took some time to travel the world and meditate with gurus in India and Thailand and in July 2018, we launched our latest startup: Meditation.LIVE.
Meditation.LIVE is a simple premise: the best meditation gurus are in Asia and if someone wants to meditate with them, they have to usually go for a retreat in a place like Rishikesh, India (like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Beatles) or Thailand/Bali etc. Using technology if we can do a virtual live meditation with them, the same amazing teacher but without having to fly for 24hrs! (typical flying time from the west coast, the USA to India).
We also wanted the meditation experience to be social: meditate together with people from all over the world. And we wanted it to be an experience where you can ask questions with the meditation guru and learn from them. So, we focused on a LIVE, Interactive and Social experience. While it’s too early to say that our latest company is a success, we are proud to say, we have users that give it a 5/5 experience and love the product. If you want to help improve focus, reduce stress/anxiety and live a happier life, give our latest creation a try, join
Q.Your message to the world.
A. One of my favourite reads is a book called: Sapiens (top seller on Amazon). It talks about evolution: past, present what the future may bring. Humans are the smartest species, we are eradicating all other species for our existence. We may also eradicate ourselves in the future as smarter creations by us (such as AI and Machine learning) do more of what we do.
The present (NOW) is only what matters. Live a content life without FOMO (fear of missing out)
Q.What is your business into? / Brief introduction about your business?
A. We are a platform for providing the best Meditation techniques and teachers. We focus on three key pillars: LIVE: Work with a real instructor (not an audio recording). Learn from instructors from all over the world who are experienced and certified in a variety of techniques and practices.
Interactive: Invaluable opportunity to interact with the instructor to learn and improve your meditation technique. All meditation classes allocate time for interaction for you to learn, not just listen.
Social: Learn in groups inside or outside of the company. Engage in an interactive meditation community and improve your practice, share your experience and enhance your wellbeing
Q.Why did you choose to start this (specific) business?
A. As my previous comment on evolution, either a tech entrepreneur can work on AI/ML (Artificial intelligence or machine learning) or the effects of automation on a human mind. I strongly believe humans need to look inwards and find joy in their being. Sooner we start appreciating the ancient art of Meditation and self-discovery the better.
Q.How do you manage to stand better and unique in terms of competition?
A. There is no product in the market today that offers LIVE, Interactive and Social experience. There was some other great apps (like Headspace and Calm) that provide OnDemand / audio recording based meditation experience. I tend to use both (i.e. Meditation.LIVE when I want to learn and get a deeper meditation experience) and the other apps when am in a rush and want a quick 5 – 10 minute breathing exercise.
Q.From whom you got inspired for this profession?
A. In my early life (growing up in Delhi), my uncle asked me “have you heard of Richard Branson”, I said “no”. He said “you should read his book” and that was it. I read his entrepreneurial journey and knew that’s what wanted to do with my life. Later in life and still, Steve jobs has had the most impact. (p.s. Steve Jobs meditated every day)
Q. What is further plans for growth of business
A. They are confidential. We are already growing fast and I expect 2019 to be a big year.
Q.Do you personally like to meditate ?
A.Of course! I meditate at least once a day and some days two-three times. It’s amazing how a 20-30 min meditation can change negative thoughts, reduce stress and help focus. We have a saying at our company “lets meditate on it”!
Q.What tips you would like to give to stressful people to stay in peace ?
A.When you are stressed, connect with your breath, that will help connect with your body and that will help connect with the present. Present is just fine, the stress is because of past and future. When stressed, come back to the present. More your mind is in the present, the less stress you will experience.