Member of the Month: Michael Crinnion

Member of the Month: Michael Crinnion
Michael Crinnion
Michael CrinnionMind Body Goals Ltd

Posted: Thu 25th Apr 2024

Congratulations to our Member of the Month for April, Michael Crinnion, founder of Mind Body Goals and creator of Luma³ (pronounced Lumacube), a unique wellbeing assistant whose primary function is to help people learn the scientifically proven stress-reducing technique of conscious breathing.

Michael has had a “squiggly career”. A product design engineer by trade, after being made redundant from his first job out of university, he decided to go freelance for four years before joining the “family business” of teaching.

Michael then retrained and taught for a decade before finally deciding to take up a new challenge. He says:

“After teaching for about 10 years, I realised that perhaps I had reached the end of that journey. So, I left with not much of a plan beyond the fact that I'd had a very early version of the Luma³ sitting on my workbench and no capital. I'd shown it to a few people at that point who said that I should make it.

"People say that entrepreneurship is half push, half jump when you decide you're going to do something, and I've been doing this now for three years.”

The business is leading the charge on wellness innovation and this has recently been recognised by the prestigious Innovate UK with a £50,000 award to push forward a new project, Luma³ Go, which will be at a significantly lower price point.

Did you always want to be a business owner?  

It depends on my frame of mind but the short answer is that I fell into it.

I've always had quite an entrepreneurial brain and thrive better in environments where I can explore my ideas quickly. Education isn't always that environment. It wasn't planned but it was probably always inevitable that I would go back to working for myself.

The truth is that I like creating things, I like solving problems and challenging myself. And that's basically a description of the business I'm now running.

How did the idea for the business come about?

We have a saying in our house: Why spend an hour doing something when you can spend six hours failing to automate it?

The actual core idea of breath work and a device to help you with that comes from a mixture of my personal experience with mental health and my professional experience as a teacher working with young people and staff.

Working on my mental health was a long road back but one of the big changes was when I opened my mind to more holistic wellbeing practices.

There are ones that are mixed in under this kind of holistic health brand like meditation, breathing exercises, gratitude practice and intention setting that have solid neuroscience behind them. Once I started to learn and opened my mind up, particularly with breath work, it changed my life.

Although I was done with education, I still wanted to work in helping people but I also missed product design. I wanted to bring together these two worlds.

A few products have cropped up since I launched but at the time, there weren’t any. I mean offline hardware, physical items that guided breathing exercises. There are many apps but a phone is a distracting device and the antithesis of mindfulness.

I just wanted to make something that was part of your environment, part of your day and away from the digital noise.

There are four different breathing exercises built into the unit, as well as timer modes designed to help users fit the exercises into their day. There are also sensory modes, ambient lighting options and a sleep ritual mode to aid restful sleep.

The unit does all of this with no screens, accounts, subscriptions or requests for your data. We made Luma³ commercially available in September 2022 and it's currently available to buy directly from our website.

Luma3 Premium Oak

When launching the business, what were some of the major challenges?

Funding and we overcame it. I have a non-exec director called, Colin Glass OBE. He's a very well-respected businessman and I was lucky enough to be introduced to him early on, so I got a lot of good advice about what to do, what not to do and when to seek finance.

It is a learning curve that everybody goes through when they start running a business. I was lucky that I had done it before in a small sense, so at least I knew how to set up an invoicing process.

The other challenge was being first to market and a new product segment. It was hard to sell and we're now getting there.

I'm a product designer, so my focus was to make the product as good as it could be at what it did and make it well, which I achieved. I only then thought about how I was going to sell it.

It took a year to get to market and then another year to figure out how to sell it.

What are some of the challenges given the current economic climate?

People impulse buy now and don’t spend very long in the research stage. That means it has to be at a price point that's low enough for them to not think about and can understand the benefit almost immediately, and that’s not Luma³. Luma³ takes not long, maybe a minute or two of explanation to get, but who's giving anyone two minutes on the internet now?

When we sell in-person at wellbeing festivals, trade fairs and mental health seminars, I can't take enough of them.

Online, it has been much harder but we are getting there too.

Can you explain the 10:1 Initiative? 

The 10:1 Initiative is a fundamental part of the business. For every 10 Luma³ we sell and we're currently working on it being all of our products, we give one to a school, college or university for free along with a set of resources to easily help teachers share knowledge about the nervous system, anxiety, depression and how to manage it before they become a problem.

It’s important to stress that we're not a charity, we're not a CIC, we're a limited company. To be honest, it's not profit-based.

We're in year three now and just reaching profitability, which is normal for a product business. We’ve been giving out the 10:1 Initiative units since day one as it is built into the cost of the product.

What’s next for the business?

Apart from launching the Luma³ Go, we have the gratitude journal. It is a £5 product and based on the same principles of scientific, well-designed, well-thought-out wellness. There are no butterflies or flowers but it's clean design and talks about the science of gratitude.

We're also co-developing two more journals with Dr Gracie McLaven that will cover habits and intention setting. I met Dr Gracie at an Enterprise Nation Mastercard panel event and we got chatting.  

Michael Crinnion On Visit To 10 Downing Street

When did you first come across Enterprise Nation?

Colin introduced me to Enterprise Nation and I started getting the newsletters and reading about other founders’ journeys. It is nice to know that it is normal to feel uncertain.

Then I applied for the Realising the Remarkable grant and won. It was such a good fit for where I was in the business and helped with the marketing budget at the time.

There's a lot of support out there but so much of it is not willing to help you pay for marketing or sales costs and that is what most people have trouble with.

There is constant support and I have been interviewed a few times, as well as been invited to the Mastercard event, where I met Dr Gracie and then was also invited to 10 Downing Street in February.

Enterprise Nation has not only helped the business in a real fiscal and logistical sense but also more than that, it is recognition.

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Michael Crinnion
Michael CrinnionMind Body Goals Ltd
I've been dubbed the Willy Wonka of Wellness, and while that can conjure up some pretty strange imagery, it summarizes my attitude to innovation. I like to look for new and better ways to do things that have been done the same way for a long time. For my company Mind Body Goals, that means 'Wellness by Design’ - we craft beautifully designed products that help you bring proven wellness techniques into your life and support you with forming healthy habits.

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