How an ex-Googler got 6K+ subscribers in 4 months by teaching neuroscience to entrepreneurs
Mindful productivity school
Hi Anne-Laure! Tell us about yourself and Ness Labs.
Thanks for having me! I’m an ex-Googler turned entrepreneur. After working on several digital health products at Google, I left to build products helping people live healthier and happier lives. I’m also studying neuroscience part-time at King’s College. Ness Labs is a mindful productivity school. We teach entrepreneurs how to apply neuroscience principles so they can achieve more while taking care of their mental health. It’s all about beating procrastination without beating yourself up. I use my experience as an entrepreneur as well as what I study at university to craft content and products bridging the gap between neuroscience and entrepreneurship. Some of our products include Teeny Breaks, a Chrome extension reminding people to take mindful breaks, and Maker Mind, a weekly newsletter about mindful productivity with more than 6,000 subscribers. We also have a library of content around mindful productivity, a shop, and we’re about to launch our first course.
How did you come up with this focus on mindful productivity?
Both at Google and when running my company, I have experienced burnout. It’s pretty hard at first to see the signs. It’s a constant oscillation between exhaustion and exhilaration. We tell ourselves to push through, that we’ll be able to rest after the next deadline, that we just need to make one more effort to get it done. In the end, both our mental health and our productivity suffer. We’re unhappy, and we don’t do our best work. Burnout and mental health in general are still pretty taboo among entrepreneurs, and I want to use what I learn at university as well as my own experience to tackle these topics, and help people not go through the same experience. What I like about Ness Labs is that it’s akin to a sandbox where we can experiment with new products and see which ones are the most helpful.
Interesting. How do you go about launching these new products?
I’m a big proponent of working in public, so I tweet about the creation process. I ask for feedback and get my audience involved very early on. Once I have a first version, I launch on Product Hunt. It’s not necessarily what everyone should do, but it happens that my audience hangouts there too. I also post all of my articles on Hacker News, which can be an important source of traffic if a link hits the front page. I don’t believe in launching once. I constantly re-launch new versions, update things as I go, and iterate to improve on the products.
What has worked so far to attract customers?
Writing content on the blog has so far been the most effective way to grow the audience and thus attract customers. All of the consulting opportunities, the newsletter sponsors, partnerships, the workshops… all of these were inbound. I never did any cold emailing. People read the articles, they reach out using the contact form asking how they can work with Ness Labs. It’s great because you can’t imagine having a more qualified prospect than the one who proactively reaches out to your company.
Describe a moment where you had to overcome a challenge.
The challenge with relying so much on social media as a marketing platform is that it’s very unpredictable. Sometimes a piece of content goes viral, sometimes it brings very few visitors to the website. I still haven’t figured out the magic recipe, so the only strategy I rely on is consistency. If you publish content on a regular basis and make sure to share it, you’re bound to grow your audience.
What tools do you use for your business?
The website is Wordpress hosted at DreamHost. I recently switched to them and their customer support is amazing. For the newsletter, I use MailChimp, but I’m exploring alternatives such as ConvertKit. We all work together using the Google suite, it makes it easier to collaborate and that’s what I’m used to. I personally hate Slack, so communication happens via Gmail and Hangouts. For payments, Stripe and Gumroad. I also use VS Code for coding and Adobe Creative Cloud for illustrations and design.
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Stop hiding behind your products and put yourself out there! Start a blog or a newsletter and share your creation process. This is an incredible way to learn, grow as a person, and make new connections.
Thanks! Where can we go to learn more about your company?