Creating Kindspace: The Power Of Perseverance In Business with Caroline Laurenson, Founder of Kindspace

founders'stories member spotlight Apr 30, 2024

She is an award-winning tech founder, a true innovator in her industry and the creator of Kindspace - a holistic well-being voice application for Alexa. Caroline Laurenson joins me on the blog to talk about the power of perseverance and how she handles setbacks as she navigates the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey. 

Hi Caroline, thanks for joining me on the blog. Your story of launching Kindspace is so inspiring and shows that things do happen for a reason. Please tell our readers more about Kindspace and what led you to create it. 

Creating Kindspace has been a rather magical journey. The main catalyst was the covid-19 lockdown, but as I reflect, I see that the journey started even further back than that, even if I didn’t know it at the time. I run a smart homes company with my amazing husband Thomas. We help people to adopt new technologies and are passionate about helping people to maintain their independence in their own homes. Then, overnight we couldn’t go to people’s houses anymore. We really wanted to help and so we started doing Facebook live video tutorials to show people how to use the Amazon Alexa smart speakers to video call their loved ones. This grew into a whole series of Alexa tutorials and, on this voyage of discovery into the different features within Alexa, we realised that we could also build our own features - a bit like how you get apps for smartphones, you get apps for smart speakers.

How can we use Kindspace to help enhance our emotional well-being? 

Kindspace gives you a tiny moment to pause in your day and do something just for you, even if that’s just a brief check-in with how you’re really feeling. We can be so busy doing, that we forget to make space for ourselves. Kindspace offers not only a check-in that monitors a variety of well-being indicators but also a large library of tips to help you on your well-being journey. We also have a growing library of guided audio activities like journaling prompts, affirmations, breathing exercises and creative outlets in our poetry and short story collections. The beauty is that it is so easy to access, just say “Alexa, open Kindspace”. There are no downloads or distractions that you might be used to with smartphone applications.

Also, we’ve just completed some really fascinating research into the benefits of Kindspace, where we looked specifically at feelings of worry. Across the participants, 84% experienced a reduction in their feelings of worry after using Kindspace regularly for 6 weeks.

When we last caught up, we spoke about the road to success and how your journey has been a bumpy one, yet you have persevered and built a business from the ground up. What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome as a founder?

Oh, so many! A big one is mindset. There’s a continuous feeling that there’s so much more to learn and do and knowing that success all rests on you. But, if you shift your mindset, you can see that it’s also exciting to take on new tasks and have the freedom to decide how you work and what areas to prioritise.

Cash flow is a constant juggle. As we are bootstrapping, we’re reinvesting as much as we can back into the business to work on developing new innovations like Kindspace and our latest voice app which is called “My Scottish Community”, which helps people find support groups and activities in their local communities. We managed to secure InnovateUK funding to cover 70% of the project costs, but this was after 6 failed funding applications with InnovateUK, and if anyone has done one before you’ll know the applications are a significant amount of work in themselves!

It's also really challenging to work in a field that is only just emerging. For a consumer, most don’t even know that voice apps exist, so a big part of what we do is educating people about the technology and helping them to navigate all the confusing choices in the smart home world.

What helps you to persevere and not give up in the face of setbacks? 

As an entrepreneur, you have to deal with a lot of rejection. There are two main things that have really helped me; both are from books. The first one I’d like to share is from Tara Mohr’s book - Playing Big, where she explains that feedback almost always tells you more about the person giving the feedback than it does about you. The feedback you receive is from their perspective, based on their own knowledge, preferences, priorities, and values, but sometimes feedback can be tough to deal with because of our own beliefs or insecurities. Ask yourself, does the feedback mirror a doubt or negative belief I already hold about myself? If this is the case, you might need some help to work through these feelings. The key is to not attach a meaning which is not there to the feedback. Try to stick to the facts. What do you know to be true? What happened? What was actually said? Realise that there could be many reasons you received the feedback that you did.

The second thing, I’d say is that in many situations the timing might just not be right. Elizabeth Gilbert has a great book called Big Magic where she talks about her own experiences of rejection as a writer. You must have an unwavering belief that your work is not done yet to keep going and adapt when doors are continually closing. You need to continue that process of creating, keep that passion and fire burning and don’t be consumed by the end goal when there are setbacks.

If there is one tip that you would give to your early-entrepreneurial-days-self, what would that tip be?

Don’t underestimate the power of your personal brand. This is something that I’m still working on getting more comfortable with and showing more of who we are in the business. Creating Kindspace has become a calling much bigger than I could ever have imagined, where I can bring all my kindness and compassion when it comes to dealing with the hard things that life throws at us. Thomas and I met when I was just 17 and we have been through so much together in terms of health challenges, family trauma and our own mental health.

What tips would you give to early-stage startup founders who are looking to build their brand and get funding?

Don’t be afraid of getting stuck in and learning new things. Through necessity, you’re going to have to learn a lot and quickly about how to position your business and craft your messaging, all at the same time as developing the product or service and trying to build a customer base so you can pay the bills. There is a lot of support out there for businesses, almost too much, which can get overwhelming. Try to find the right fit for you, where there are experts that can help with those important first steps to building your brand and others on a similar journey so that you can support each other. I’d say don’t only immerse yourself in the start-up world but also try to build connections with established business people. I’m part of a beautiful online community called Club Synergy that blends keeping active with business networking, and it really has enriched my entrepreneurial journey while at the same time making sure I’m looking after my physical well-being.

And when it comes to funding, you learn a bit with every rejection. I know that the funding applications I’m writing now are of much higher quality and more succinct. That said, remember any feedback you get is just an opinion at a certain moment in time and not all feedback needs to be acted on. It’s taken me a long time to realise this and learn to trust my own judgement. You know your business and market better than anyone.

Where can our readers learn more about Kindspace? 

We have a Kindspace website, www.createyourkindspace.com, where you can find out more information about the app. If you follow us on our social media, then we also regularly share interesting articles and tips from the Kindspace app.

 

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