Shifting the Narrative on Multidimensional Wellbeing
For most of us, picturing an ideal state of wellness likely conjures images of eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and having a good night’s sleep. But we often disregard our mental wellness — what would it look like if we instead considered what we have done to strengthen and tone our minds?
Liv Bowser, the Founder & CEO of Liberate, always thought that if she could run a 5K and could stick to a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, her job was done. Because she has always valued health and wellness, she maintains a robust fitness routine including classes like Barry’s Bootcamp and SoulCycle in an effort to gain the mental energy and support she craved. As she progressed in her career and subsequently experienced the typical growing pains of her mid-20’s like loneliness and anxiety, she leaned harder into fitness classes. When these classes didn’t fill the void, she explored therapy and meditation. Though these activities helped, she still felt a sense of isolation and shame that she couldn’t ignore. Liv wanted to bring the mental wellbeing work out of the shadows and into the forefront with the same fun and energizing spirit she found so empowering in SoulCycle classes. So, she decided to shift the narrative and create a mental workout that would be just as dynamic and intentional as her physical fitness routine.
Cultivating a Mental Health Toolkit Into a Business
Before COVID-19 hit, Liv had been exploring the possibility of taking the mental workout routine she had created for herself and extending it into a business. She spent a full year researching mental performance methods, interviewing psychologists, and reading any article and study she could on mental health and meditation. She also became a certified mindfulness and yoga teacher to equip herself with the right tools to help others in the most effective and studied methods possible. After speaking with friends, family, and colleagues who all struggled with similar bouts of anxiety, feelings of loneliness being in new cities or far away from family, and stress in meeting job expectations, Liv knew she had a real opportunity to help. When the pandemic hit, Liv was struck by a second epidemic she and her peers were experiencing, which was directly related to mental health and what she had been working towards.
According to a KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020, prior to the pandemic, one in ten adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. Yet throughout the pandemic, that number escalated to about 4 in 10 adults. This was the final push Liv needed to leave her full-time job in marketing at Rael, a successful e-commerce startup in Los Angeles. Having made a business plan and having performed due diligence on the cost to turn her idea into a business reality, Liv launched Liberate in May 2020. She first envisioned a brick-and-mortar studio in Los Angeles that would become the SoulCycle of mindfulness. Given the COVID environment and understanding her ability to have an even greater impact on a greater number of individuals, Liv launched the first Liberate community classes via Zoom. She partnered with a mental performance coach who works with collegiate athletes to create the Liberate Method that is both dynamic and engaging, with just enough of each activity to keep participants from becoming bored or overwhelmed.
Liberate has four benefit-focused modalities: movement, journaling, conversation, and meditation. Each segment is approximately 10 minutes in length and the entire session totals one hour but there are also shorter segments for those just starting out. The priority in these sessions is to tone mental muscles like courage, gratitude, and resilience. Similar to the fitness studios that Liv frequents, Liberate has a membership model where individuals can access live classes weekly, 100+ classes on-demand, Liberate meditations and special workshops, journaling prompts, access to a wellness community group, and more for $19 per month, with a 7-day free trial.
Taking on Pandemic Burnout With a B2B Model
As the pandemic wore on and Liv helped thousands of individuals hone their mental toolkits, it became apparent that she could have more of an impact combating the burnout and stress epidemic in the workplace. In 2021, Liberate made the move to support remote and disconnected teams, and now 80% of its business is supported by the B2B model. No company is off-limits, big or small, but Liberate now counts Google, Crooked Media, and Uber as clients. Companies can choose a single class a la carte or enroll in an ongoing program to support teams. Although there are adjacent competitors in the space, there isn’t a holistic experience that combines meditation, movement, intention setting, and journaling in the same way. In addition, Liberate prides itself on not being very “woo-woo,” instead it offers accessible ways of meditation, journaling, and movement so that everyone can enjoy and learn. In order to support new companies coming on board, as of January 2022, Liberate now has 6 other class leaders in addition to Liv. These leaders each bring unique experience in health and wellness, with certifications in wellness and degrees in psychology.
Data on the effectiveness of the Liberate Method is incredibly important to the company’s success. Currently, Liberate provides an intake form that is shared with companies at the beginning and end of the sessions to give corporate partners qualitative insight into how their teams are feeling, as well as measurable, quantitative data on their ability to stay present, as well as foster self-love, confidence, resilience. This data tells companies whether employees have the tools they need to flex mental muscles. The intake form provided at the end asks questions such as “have you gained valuable skills for your workplace?” Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes. Moreover, 90% of respondents report a decrease in stress and anxiety after Liberate classes. For now, Liberate is still mostly remote with a few in-person sessions (COVID-19 allowing) and plans to expand into weekend retreats to give participants a way to dive deeper into their practice and better connect with the Liberate community.
Looking Ahead to 2022
In December 2021, Liv faced a true test of her mental muscle strength when she was selected to be featured on Shark Tank. Chosen from hundreds of thousands of applicants, Liv had the chance to share Liberate’s success thus far, as well as her vision for the company. Liberate has plans to raise its first seed round in 2022 in order to grow the internal team, including roles in sales and engineering, as well as its brand presence across the U.S. This means hiring a sales team, building out an elevated and customized app for its program to include more data and reporting on effectiveness. Forget hosting a virtual happy hour for the 10th time or having yet another guest speaker conversation on burnout. After almost two years of the COVID pandemic, Liberate is the perfect solution for companies that seek innovative ways to support employees in a genuine way.
If you’re interested in learning more about Liberate, contact Liv at firstname.lastname@example.org.