Drew Teller

How I Used a Product Management Process to Start a Yoga Business [Part 1]

The purpose of this article to share my process and journey launching Lund Yoga Community — Sweden’s first sustainable donation-based yoga studio.
Specifically, the goal is to draw parallels the software world of product management practices and creating a yoga business.
Not only will this article demonstrate growth, but its FULL INTENTION is to illustrate MY PROCESS in how I went about creating something from nothing.
I purposefully, intentionally, and consciously chose a Product Management process.
Why did I choose a PM process? It’s simple — I enjoy product management. Everything you read here was pragmatic, calculated, and strategically created. I will explain the steps I took to grow my company and the process behind every step — detailing the why. 
You will read about my failures and my milestones. I hope you find this article helpful in understanding how I think, how I act, and most importantly, how I serve my customers’ needs.
Before I explain the tools and articles I used to guide my process of building Lund Yoga Community; I am fully aware that there are dozens of ways to go about doing a PM process. However, I purposefully used tools/articles to illustrate my ability to follow a method. Additionally, using tools and articles in my process will give the reader an opportunity to critically reflect on my process with their own perspective.

The Start

After googling for a bit, I used a great article from Axelsoft on PM and the PM process. I adopted their “4 stages of product management”:
  1. Vision
  2. Strategy Development
  3. Product Development
  4. Marketing and Sales

1. Vision

I used Roman Pichler’s vision board to get started:
Here are the following sections filled out from the vision board above.
Vision
The purpose for creating the product/service is to create an opportunity to make yoga accessible for everyone.
There are so many benefits to practicing yoga. Yoga can increase people’s physical strength, improve people’s mental health, and give people an opportunity to explore their bodies in a safe way. A successful product/service will give people an opportunity to feel these positive changes from practicing yoga. Plus, there is potential for a large spillover effect for whoever these people interact with!
Target Groups (Segmentation)
Demographic Segmentation
  • Bio: Lund University Student, Lund Resident
  • Age: 18–24
  • Gender: Any
  • Job: Lund University Student
Psychographic Segmentation
  • Exercise, Fitness, Meditation, Wellness, Healthy Eating, Sports
  • People who are curious about yoga, who have heard about the possible benefits but do not want to pay for a membership. People who want to be more flexible and gain strength at the same time! People who do not want to be stressed or anxious.
  • Facebook users who “like” or “follow” wellness lifestyles such as veganism, yoga, mindfulness, etc.
  • Mindset of challenging themselves, perhaps looking for ways to improve their mental state of mind, or recovering from a traumatic past.
  • Value curiosity, kindness, community, supporting, and inclusiveness
Influencers
  • Lund University Instagram Account with 10k+ followers
  • Academic Society Partnership (30k+ reach)
Needs
In Lund, there is no yoga without signing up for a membership, paying fees, or requiring reservations. The curious yogi who does not want to take on a big commitment and the experienced yogi who cannot afford an expensive yoga membership do not have a place to practice.
The Lund Yoga Community would benefit people who want to try something new (yoga) with no obligations.
Product/Service
A donation-based yoga studio: Lund Yoga Community.
Currently, there is no donation-based yoga studio in Lund, Sweden. With low capital costs and a small investment, the product’s first MVP can be developed in 2 weeks.
The service is feasible with a small investment, curious people, and a passionate and determined yoga teacher!
Business Goals
To create a sustainable business model where the donations of the students can pay for all fixed and recurring costs such as: yoga studio, yoga mats, and tea. The second business goal would be make enough revenue to pay teachers and myself to make a living off of it.
Competitors
One Hot Spot Yoga & Raja Yoga Lund
Strengths: They have yoga studios with 100s of active memberships and a local Swedish demographic
Weakness: They do not offer donation-based classes. They do not market to students without experience (beginners)
Revenue Streams
Donations: 50 SEK (5 Euro) each.
Cost Factors
The major cost factors are my time, renting a yoga space, and purchasing yoga mats to offer for rent
Minor cost factors include: social media marketing (IG and FB), tea, candles
Channels
I will market this product first through gathering emails and interest. The next marketing channel will be to create a facebook group and page. Then I will market on my personal Instagram, Lund University Instagram, and hand out business cards. The next step will be to promote a couple ads on IG and FB.

2. Strategy Development

For strategy, I created a strategy roadmap per Axelsoft’s article. I used Miro (formerly RealTimeBoard) to create a roadmap. Due to the nature of the service, I created a Goal-Oriented Roadmap so I can control the direction of my vision.
In September, I wrote down everything I needed to plan my launch. Here is the Roadmap Version 1:
I divided each task into 4 categories: Infrastructure, Features (online), Marketing, and Sales.
As of March 2019, the new and actual roadmap turned into Roadmap Version 2:
A few learning outcomes I did not expect or foresee at the time I drafted the first roadmap:
  • I created more than one Facebook/Instagram marketing campaigns
  • I rebranded my business cards with an official logo
  • I went through another website iteration (totaling three iterations)
  • I had to add an online payment system (Swish) to accept donations because Swedes don’t carry cash
The reason why I had these unexpected changes were due to new customer demographics. Originally, I thought cash would suffice. However, Sweden is moving towards a cashless economy. Therefore, I had to implement Swish across all my marketing channels. Plus, I believed the LYC logo should be implemented on new business cards to better align the brand.

3. Product Development

Product/Service development consisted of implementing all the categories on my product roadmap.
Infrastructure work and development started with gathering people’s emails to inquire interest. I used an email listserv to schedule the first yoga class using a google form. Within two weeks, I bought yoga mats for people to borrow if they did not own one. I initially taught outdoors, but I knew by October, it would get too cold. 
In October, I secured an indoor space to practice yoga. Continuity and consistency are very important to the flow of yoga practice. I did not want to miss any practices because I could not secure an indoor space. I booked the first one I can find. It is still currently the LYC studio! 
The last infrastructure addition was serving tea. Many yoga studios serve tea. I believe it’s a great way to build a community since it gives people an opportunity to stay after class and build relationships.
Feature development started with a facebook group and page. I needed to create a space where I can communicate with everyone interested in practicing yoga. Within 2 months, I had over 200+ in the group with people from all over the world (Lund University is an international university with many international students). 
The Facebook group and page was the first time I created the Mission (Purpose), Vision, and Values of Lund Yoga Community. It was extremely important for me to develop the birth of the brand. It took me two weeks. See below:
Before 2019, I wanted to launch the LYC website to create a more professional brand and legitimization.
I used Balsamiq to draft website wireframe designs. I ended up going through 3 iterations. From Axelsoft’s article mentioned above, Product Managers work with UX designers. Throughout the iteration process, I consulted a UX designer Mimi Yu (a colleague and friend).
We came up with 2 designs together. Here are the wireframe designs followed by the website designs:
Marketing and Sales consisted of Facebook and Instagram campaigns, plus an unexpected Lund University partnership. I submitted an application to be a partner association with Lund University and then spoke to 12 board members explaining why LYC is innovative and brings students together. This partnership created a further reach to 30,000 more people bringing in more demand growth generation. The partnership also gave me access to their website marketing channels too! 

Prioritization

I’m adding a section on prioritization because I’m aware that PMs must prioritize every day! Therefore, the purpose of this is to let you know a few of the reasons behind my choices from the product road-mapping section above. Due to the nature of this service, I used the relative prioritization method ICE: Impact, Confidence, and Ease. I performed a qualitative version of ICE, as opposed to the normal quantitative one.
I will detail 3 important decisions.
1. Securing an indoor yoga studio
Impact 
At the time this decision was made, I was teaching yoga outdoors. The weather was starting to get cold as October arrived. Therefore, I knew that outdoor yoga wouldn’t be a long term solution for LYC. The impact of finding an indoor yoga space was imperative for one major reason: so the service could continue. However, time was of the essence. If I did not find a space soon enough, I could have to cancel yoga. I prioritized consistency and repetition at number 1. Therefore, I knew I had to secure an indoor yoga space quickly. Luckily, the first space that I could afford was good enough!
Confidence
The confidence of this decision was clear — if I did not find an indoor space, yoga would be canceled. Therefore, I was 100% sure finding an indoor space would allow the service to continue.
Ease
The easiness rating of this decision was low. Finding an indoor space in a city I did not know a lot about was difficult. It took me two weeks to locate a space I could afford. However, the impact of this decision overshadowed the lack of ease.
2. Adding a new payment system
Impact
During the beginning of the service, I only took cash donations. However, there was one major demographic that did not carry cash: Swedes. Swedish people are moving towards cashless payment systems. They have a mobile payment system similar to Venmo called Swish. By not allowing people to donate via mobile banking, I was loosing out on potential revenue.
Confidence 
I had nothing to lose. At the time, I was receiving direct questions from my students: “Hey, do you take Swish?” I was positive that Swish was important to implement.
Ease
To have a Swish account, you need a Swedish bank account. As a student, I did not have one. Therefore, this would be a major obstacle. Implementing a Swish would be difficult because I would need to have someone else tied to the Swish account, not me.
3. Saying NO to teachers who wanted to teach for LYC
Impact
The impact of this decision had to be carefully investigated. On one hand, having other teachers teach for LYC would be helpful as it reduces my time and resources. Additionally, students benefit from having new teachers to learn from. However, on the other hand, some teachers do not meet the standards or mission of LYC. The LYC tagline is “Accessible for All.” Every piece of the yoga that is offered is accessible to the curious beginner and the experienced yogi. Therefore, if teachers were able to teach in an accessible way, I had to deny them. The impact is a 51/49 split amongst positives and negatives. I had to go with NO.
Confidence
As a certified yoga teacher, I had to use my best judgment on what “accessible” means. My confidence in not allowing teachers to teach was justified by my judgment. At the time, my time was not limited and could still manage the number of hours while finding other teachers.
Ease
Easy. I said, “Sorry, but I don’t believe my students are ready to take your class. However, if you are more serious about teaching for LYC, let’s work on how you can modify your teaching style. Please note that English was a second language for the majority of people here in Sweden. This was a major player in the decision.

Case Study Research

After the 4 stages of the PM development process was complete, I created a problem case study on the yoga culture in Sweden because I believe it’s important to detail the learnings throughout my experience and how it relates to Sweden. 
I also created this case study to give myself an opportunity to develop user stories and personas, which are key in product management, marketing, and UX spaces.
The purpose of the case study below is to demonstrate my process in identifying a problem, gathering user data, and redefining the opportunity. The case study follows (almost) the “Discover” and “Define” steps in the Double Diamond Framework.
The outline of the SlideShare below is as follows:
  1. Problem
  2. Definition
  3. Assumptions
  4. Testing
  5. Validation
  6. User Stories
  7. Personas
  8. New Assumptions
  9. Problem → Opportunity
Full Slideshare Here!

Metrics: Show me the numbers!

I documented everything. If there is one thing I’ve read about Product Management, it’s METRICS METRICS METRICS! The purpose of this section is to demonstrate my process of collecting and analyzing meaningful data.
The framework I used to contextualize my metrics was the AARRR Framework: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral (Reviews).
Acquisition
Acquisition metrics were difficult to capture due to the nature of the service. Without specifically asking each student how they discovered LYC and decided to come to class, there was no way to successfully correlate a website visitor, a Facebook member, or an Instagram follow directly with a new student. One of the perpetuating missions of LYC is to make yoga accessible without any obstacles and therefore, I did not want to ask people to sign up because that would go against the purpose. Sticking to the purpose of the brand was number 1 on any prioritization list. Therefore, I did not value acquisition as an important metric to measure.
Activation & Retention
Unlike acquisition, I defined activation as a new student. Others may argue this is acquisition but for the sake of monitoring metrics, new students were valuable for me to label as activation. I defined retention as a returning student for at least two classes. Meaning, a student’s third class would now be counted as retention. I documented the number of students every class plus the number of new students and returning students. I created a graph below (using an Excel pivot chart) that represents week over week activation vs retention. The orange stacked area represents new students (activation) and the blue stacked area represents returning students (retention).
On the left side of the graph during October 2018, LYC had 14 students, 10 of whom were new and 4 of them were returning. Looking at the maximum point where there were the most students, only 5 students were new and 15 were returning. Over the course of these 6 months or so, the % of returning students was increasing as the % of new students was decreasing.
Activation and retention started to steady out over time. The average week over week activation and retention was 25% and 75%, respectively. I argue that a high % retention is a good measure of success!
Revenue
To be as transparent as I can without giving all the financial details, the revenue made from Lund Yoga Community has met the original business goal mentioned above during the Vision Board planning! LYC successfully made enough revenue to support all fixed costs for the 2019–2020 year!
One of the most important decisions made that helped increase revenue was adding another yoga class per week and benchmarking (behavioral economics term) a suggested donation at 50 SEK.
Referral/Reviews
The referral metrics are measured by Facebook reviews on the LYC Facebook page. These were the only referral metrics documented, as most of the referral/reviews are spoken directly to the teachers after class (e.g., “Hey, I really loved your class. I will come back next week!”).
In addition to the reviews below, the LYC Facebook Group has an average month over month referral (or word of mouth) percentage of 93%. This means that I only invited 7% of all the people in the facebook group. The rest of the group found their way to the group or were invited by someone else.
Here are some reviews:

Milestones

The last part of this journey of product management is the milestones. There are a few milestones that I would like to share that were not captured in the metrics.
  1. Lund Yoga Community
    was on the first page of Google after 2 months of launch. LYC is the in the top 3 results on Google if keywords “lund yoga”, “yoga lund sweden”, and “lund yoga classes” are entered.
  2. On April 28, 2019
    , Lund Yoga Community appeared more than 100 times when people searched “lund yoga” on Google.
  3. Sales revenue
    met the business goal to finance next years fixed costs.
  4. Lund Yoga Community
    partnered with Lund University during 2018–2019 school year and will continue partnering with Lund University in the years to come. The partnership provides additional reach to all 30,000+ students at Lund University.

Reflection & Criticism

The purpose of this article was to reveal transparency throughout this journey towards product management. The goal was to let you (the reader) in on every decision I made, every tool I used, and illustrate my intentions behind every step moving forward. 
I hope you now know a little bit more about how I utilize the tools to reach my goals. Lund Yoga Community has been an incredible journey. I’m grateful for the opportunity to impact others through my personal values of creativity and curiosity.
If any of this resonated with you or would like to collaborate in any way — please drop a comment! I love feedback!
One of my favorite books is the Four Agreements and agreement number 4 is “Always do your best.” I try to strive for doing my best at everything I do. I would rather work towards imperfection while doing my best than trying to make everyone happy. I will leave you with a quote that resonated with me during my journey to product management:
“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of being.” — John Wooden
Thanks for reading! :)

Tags

Comments

Topics of interest