This month’s Women in Technology interview is with wellness app EsVedra’s founder, Dr. Kaitlyn Goldsmith, a clinical psychologist and professor who also just happens to be a yoga instructor and of course, a savvy female entrepreneur. Goldsmith invites us behind the curtain to talk health and wellness, what it means to be a woman in technology, why this was the right time to develop and launch wellness app EsVedra , and men in helicopters.
Unless you’re my 84-year-old dad who remains faithful to his beloved flip phone and only answers on the 17th ring, chances are advanced technology factors into your life in an increasingly pervasive way. From smart phones and smart wearables to smart cars and homes, tech is life and life is tech.
All this connectivity has led to record levels of stress and pressure. There’s even a term for it: Technostress, which means exactly what the name suggests. But the good news is, we’ve never been more aware of our physical and mental health and 2020 saw an increase of 46% more downloads of health and wellness apps. This means more and more of us are concerned about our health and wellness journey and as with everything else, we are turning to technology to get there. We’re working out more than ever, replenishing our bodies with nutritional smoothies and kale salads, and we all have our go-to wellness apps to help us disconnect from the world while we reconnect with our inner peace. The app to help you do just that is EsVedra, a self-proclaimed gym for your soul.
Tell us a little about Kaitlyn… The woman, wife, clinical psychologist and entrepreneur.
I’m Dr. Kaitlyn Goldsmith, founder of EsVedra Wellness, a super app dedicated to making holistic wellness resources available to all. I am a clinical psychologist passionate about creating accessible mental health options for everyone. I teach at the University of British Columbia and I practice at Vancouver General Hospital in the areas of women’s health, chronic pain, and reproductive oncology. I also have my own private practice. When I’m not teaching, writing or seeing patients, I enjoy travelling the world with my husband of 11 years. Together, we have travelled to over 35 countries including Brazil, India, Uganda, Morocco, and Cambodia. This month, we are completing our open water scuba diving certification so that we can scuba dive in our dream destination, the Galapagos Islands, next year! I love to practice yoga and have maintained a daily practice for the past 10 years. It is what has kept me sane through 10 years of university, three cross-country moves, and five years of long-distance between my husband and me.
As a clinical psychologist, professor and yoga instructor, you seem to represent the perfect union of mindfulness, discipline and wellbeing. How have these three disciplines prepared you for entering the tech industry and creating a health and wellness app?
As a clinical psychologist, I have spent most of my career in universities and hospitals. It is incredibly rewarding to work one-on-one to positively impact people’s lives and contribute meaningful research to the field. As a yoga and meditation teacher, I also love exploring the incredible world of health and wellness that extends the boundaries of modern-day psychology and medicine.
I believe that now more than ever, awareness concerning the importance of mental health and wellbeing is increasing. As a culture, we are challenging the stigma of mental health issues, which is so encouraging to see. However, I think that people are also realising that the absence of mental health issues does not necessarily equal mental health. That is, people are searching for connection, meaning, and personal growth beyond the absence of mental illness.
I have always been fascinated by Eastern, indigenous, and alternative approaches to healing and wellness. The more I learn about ancient spirituality and new age wellness, the more I see parallels in what people have been searching for across time. It is amazing to me that ancient texts contain teachings and knowledge on health and wellness that mirror recent discoveries in modern-day psychology. I believe that in many ways, we discovered keys that open doors to wellbeing, health, and our universe ages ago. My background in psychology, my interest in holistic healing, and my desire to keep challenging myself have set the stage for stepping into entrepreneurship and founding this tech company.
How did the idea for wellness app EsVedra come about? What was your inspiration and why do you think now is the right time?
I always knew that I wanted to start a company that could help people on a large scale, it was just a matter of coming up with the perfect idea and when to launch it. Over the past 10 years, I have been incredibly focused, single-mindedly building my career and practice. However, like for so many people, the COVID-19 pandemic created upheaval in my life, which was a blessing in disguise in terms of my career. It gave me the opportunity to stop and reflect mindfully and intentionally about my next direction. I knew it was the perfect time to start this company… And the world is so clearly in need.
Tell us about your Kickstarter campaign; how critical its success is to the creation and evolution of EsVedra, and when you plan to launch.
EsVedra will be launching November 2020. I decided to create a Kickstarter campaign to help offset the costs of app development and content creation and to gage interest in the app. The support has been overwhelming! Prior to Kickstarter, the project had been completely self-funded. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, it will allow me to add more content and features to the app before launch.
How has being a female academic and entrepreneur shaped you, challenged you and motivated you to succeed in your chosen paths?
I think that although people are becoming more aware of the challenges associated with being a woman in male-dominated spaces such as academia and entrepreneurship, it doesn’t mean that these challenges have disappeared. I often feel like I am climbing a mountain; but while I start my climb at the bottom, men get a helicopter lift halfway up the hill. Nonetheless, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by several incredible female mentors throughout my career who have inspired me to keep going despite the negativity. If anything, the critics motivate me and push me to work harder. I stand on the backs of women before me and I am committed to being part of the next generation of women entrepreneurs breaking glass ceilings and challenging stereotypes.
How do you propose to strike a balance between traditional thought – that you have studied and practiced over the years – and technology to provide an app that is a tool for good?
In our post-COVID-19 world, industries from healthcare to retail have shifted dramatically. Services that we never believed could be delivered online have moved online. In a traditional sense, health and wellness has been an industry with a foundation on face-to-face interactions. However, we can see the benefits in terms of affordability, accessibility, and convenience in the health and wellness space. That being said, EsVedra is committed to creating a space of genuine connection both online and with live events accessible to our subscribers.
Tell us about EsVedra… What can users expect, what sets it apart, what do you mean by discover your thrive?
EsVedra is a wellness super app that provides a platform for yogis, psychologists, philosophers, and spiritual leaders from all over the world to share their knowledge. EsVedra will host exclusive podcasts, classes, and meditations that you can take by yourself or together with friends. It is an interactive community where you can share podcasts you enjoyed and start a meditation journey by yourself or with a group.
The content is all made exclusively for EsVedra and cannot be found anywhere else. Our content creators are all over the world, including: Costa Rica, Bali, Germany, France, USA, and Canada, creating a global community of thought leaders working to move us toward a higher collective consciousness.
This company does not stop at the app. Users will also have the opportunity to attend live-streamed classes from all over the world as well as access to exclusive live events hosted in locations around the world. All of this starts at about $4/month. The vision for EsVedra is to help people in their journeys toward healing, personal growth, and well-being – in other words, to discover your thrive.
As a subscriber app that is presumably quite similar to the market leader CALM, how will you plan to market, promote and grow business/subscribers other than a more affordable price point?
EsVedra goes beyond the app, as described above. What makes EsVedra unique is our mission to create an interactive space of community and connection both within the app, and also with live events.
Because a subscription to the app is so affordable, there will not be a free version available. In addition, our app will be completely ad-free. We will not sell people’s data or use our subscribers as a product, as so many other apps do. We simply want to create a platform for people to learn, connect, and grow.
To young female entrepreneurs hoping to be the CEO of their tech start-up or brand, what experiences, wisdom and advice can you share and what are some pitfalls to avoid?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur so far is that you can’t control everything. There will be unforeseen challenges and costs. However, I am learning to embrace these as learning experiences and to enjoy the process of creating and learning in a new space. Also, I would encourage young entrepreneurs to reach out and ask for help from those around you. I have a circle of amazing friends, family, and mentors who have stepped up to help me in the most incredible and inspiring ways. All in all, don’t let negativity discourage you – we may have to work a little harder, but with grit and determination, we can climb to incredible heights.