"People care less and less about what you do, and they care more and more about why you do what you do."
She says it with ease. It hasn't always been easy, though. She's faced, and overcome, significant trauma. An assault in her teens changed her entire life trajectory, and whereas many could have crumbled, Lauren seized control of her life with fierce determination.
Shortly after, Lauren discovered Dhammakaya meditation. This ancient wisdom helped Lauren regain her power and proceed in her healing journey. It eventually led to a Thai Buddhist monastery, where she was certified as a meditation instructor — a practice she continues today.
It's easy to see that Lauren, having experienced real hardship in her personal life, hasn't been the type of person to let adversity hold her back. When she started Samavira, things didn't go as planned. But she'd already developed the skills and resilience to adjust to the unexpected. As the business grew, she realized she had to pivot to fit the needs of a wider audience.
It has grown into a pioneering meditation franchise offering a distinct meditation training approach since its early days. What particularly sets Samavira apart from other meditation brands is its emphasis on the power of group meditation. Group meditation is a unique sensory experience that seeks to provide a more immersive and tangible meditation experience for Samavira's students.
The Samavira brand also teaches a more authentic form of meditation that encourages students to create their personalized meditation style. By doing so, they can develop their own approach and become independent meditators instead of relying solely on a meditation app. This approach allows students to delve deeper into meditation and gain a more profound understanding of its benefits.
To reach a wider audience, Samavira employs a network of global ambassadors who help promote their unique brand of meditation. Through their efforts, more people can learn about the power of group meditation and the benefits of a more personalised approach to meditation.
With a strong focus on mindfulness and self-care, Lauren's venture started with the belief that every individual is a spiritual being experiencing life in a human form and that the world is a place to explore and have fun. The franchise's accomplishments demonstrate the importance of enjoying, creating, and manifesting a fulfilling lifestyle.
Samavira aims to empower people to break free from their comfort zones and redefine their definition of "normal." This vision is rooted in Lauren's journey of overcoming past traumas and living a life of freedom.
"The process from ideation to launch was not a fully planned out process. Instead, I had the idea of hosting and franchising retreats. I took the first one or two steps by hosting sessions and workshops and started taking teacher training and certifications to expand my own toolbox and modalities I could work with and then pass on to franchisees," explains Lauren.
"Then, I went to do a business accelerator. They helped me niche down my idea further because I realized that retreats is very broad, very big, and may not be the most practical first step to take. So my accelerator mentors helped me niche down my idea to meditation in specific, which helped to shed a lot of clarity in terms of where to go, how to get there, and what we were actually building here."
This new insight was particularly crucial regarding financing and generating funding for the business. With a company founded on a particular spirit and strong fundamentals, her financing options needed to reflect this.
"We started off bootstrapping, which we are actually still doing. However, in between, I went through the business accelerator, which opened my mind to looking for funding...I soon realized that VC (venture capital) funding, for example, is not the type of funding that fits with the wellness brand that we are building, so we continued bootstrapping instead."
Lauren's passion and drive are evident here. While many would have reshaped their beliefs — to create traction but potentially compromise the soul of the business — she instead reframed her expectations. After reflecting on this experience, she suggests other budding entrepreneurs tread carefully.
"My advice here would be to really think about different funding options available — what you might need the funding for — and then challenge yourself asking if this is really the case or if it's just a "nice to have" because funding doesn't come without consequences. It's a nice money injection now, but you'd still be carrying the weight for a long time after!"
The financials of setting up a global business are just one of Lauren's many learning curves. Another vital lesson: finding out that assumptions, preconceptions, and biases can quickly derail a good business idea.
"The main learning I wish I knew beforehand is to always be testing and never be assuming. You do have to create a hypothesis according to your current assumptions, but it's super important to never take them at face value," says Lauren. "Instead, verify what's the reality of your target audience because what you think they want and need and what they actually may want and need may be very different, no matter how much of an expert you are in your niche."
This advice applies across the board and is certainly relevant to any entrepreneur. Ensure you never take assumptions at face value and back up your beliefs with facts.
She continues, "...you may have an idea, and it's necessary to have an idea...but what may be even more important it is to be open and flexible to adjust where needed and to be open and flexible to external inputs, external findings, and to deliberately test if your idea is the best one you can have because you may receive an unexpected surprise that helps you go even further and reach an even bigger audience with a better product or service than you initially thought of."
Slow and steady
Lauren acknowledges that it's super tempting to chase big dreams.
"[A] big insight for me is the amount of patience that you need to have. You hear many successful startup stories these days, where startups reached huge milestones after just one year or two years. And I thought I could do that too, but I realized along the road those are just a handful of examples that exist."
Lauren also cautions that speedy growth can have complications.
"It may not even be wishful to go the fast route because, in some cases, growing fast means falling fast as well...I also learned that if you go too fast, what often ends up happening is that your company aggravates the gaps and mistakes that you may have overlooked because of being focused solely on growth and less so on quality, depth, and achieving really good product market fit, which is in essence what will help you stand out. So, slow but steady growth may not be the worst option out there."
Characteristics of an entrepreneur
For a company that is all about becoming friends with your mind, it's not hard to believe that Lauren thinks the qualities that make an entrepreneur can be molded much like mindset. However, she has a clear vision when describing the traits she believes make a "successful" entrepreneur.
After a brief pause, she says, "...the two keywords that I have been using are patience and belief. And [a third] I'd like to add here is being a little crazy!"
"You have to truly, deeply believe in your own idea because no one else may do so to that extent. I believe that the most successful entrepreneurs in this world are all slightly extreme when it comes to what they believe is possible and in really going for it, spending all their time, money [and] energy on it, and thereby sometimes partially compromising other areas of life."
The definition of success
While many may consider achievements of monetary value their most significant indicator of "making it" — in a business such as Lauren's, based on finding inner happiness — it seems counterintuitive for her to use money to define her success.
Instead, it's more about taking the message further and helping more people across the globe. With noticeable excitement, she gives me further insight, "..our current success consists of having started our ambassador program, which means we have started our franchising phase. In collaboration with our ambassadors, our meditation trainings will be available in different countries and languages starting in May. A big milestone that we have been preparing for for the past years!"
Lauren's vision is ultimately about manageable scalability. The company is looking to develop this further by bringing on more ambassadors in additional countries and offering meditation training in more languages.
Another significant initiative on the horizon is the chance to offer their help to those who may not be able to seek it in the first place through a social impact initiative in collaboration with NGOs, "...we can reach people who may not be able to afford such training but could use it very well in their lives."
The road isn't laid out
On feelings of uncertainty, Lauren says, "...you may likely not know where exactly you're going and what steps to take to get there. However, in hindsight, it's easy to connect the dots backward. This means that many things may be unknown and uncertain in your entrepreneurial journey, and that's okay. It's normal."
Again while Lauren believes individuals need to dispel (unconfirmed) notions of their customer base and the business itself, people also need to eliminate any preconceived idea of their success. If not, it usually ends up being a roadblock.
"The moments we can let go of the expectation of having/needing to know it all... is the moment we can open up to really seeing and experiencing what's happening in real life and how our customers may feel, what they may truly need."
"If you focus on doing the best you can, without expecting perfection, you will get very far."
Lauren's journey with Samavira showcases the power of a positive mindset and a strong vision. She created a unique brand that empowers people to find inner peace and balance by staying true to her beliefs and being open to adjustments. Her success reminds all entrepreneurs that it's important to challenge assumptions, test hypotheses, and remain flexible in pursuing goals.
She ends the conversation with a thoughtful reminder: Be okay with not knowing and try to enjoy this journey that you're on because it can be an incredible one if we allow it to be.