How To Deliver Immediate Value By Finding Your Critical Path

Introduction — Insight Timer.

I’ve been using a mobile app called Insight Timer for the past two years. My guess is that you probably haven’t heard of it. Insight Timer is a meditation app that provides a timer, guided meditations and an online community for meditators. I meditate for 10 minutes first thing each morning and Insight Timer has helped hold me accountable to my practice. As a result the app has become one of the most used on my iPhone.

Insight Timer is a great example of a product that delivered immediate value by focusing on the critical path of getting users from problem to solution. Meditating daily isn’t an easy habit to pick up, ask anyone who’s tried. But Insight Timer held me accountable and made it fun. In turn, I meditated more often and my overall happiness improved.

When I first downloaded the app it did only one thing and it did it really well; tracked my daily meditations with an easy to use timer and progress log. The UX wasn’t sexy, but it worked perfectly. The app was designed to get me from problem to solution quickly.

The critical path.

In our opinion at JAKT, the critical path is the user journey that gets the customer from the problem they are trying to solve to the solution the product provides in the fewest steps possible. In Insight Timer’s case, the app solved my problem by timing my meditations and logging them so that I could track my progress.

Over the past two years, Insight Timer has added several new features. Now I can listen to guided meditations, save my favorites, upload my own meditations if I want, see who’s meditating around me, join groups and connect directly with other meditators. By focusing on the critical path, it still only takes me two touches on the iPhone to start timing and tracking my meditation despite numerous additional features. New functionality has been added thoughtfully, considering what other useful things the customer wants to do along the user journey without interfering with the product’s primary use case.

From Insight Timer’s Website:

We’ve learned that meditation means many different things to many people. For some, meditation is best when practiced in a quiet solitary space. For others, sharing their meditation experience with friends enhances the benefits. Insight Timer provides a number of community features for both.

It’s obvious that Insight Timer is focusing on the user, using research and thoughtful UX design to constantly iterate its product.

Of note, JAKT did not build Insight Timer. In fact, I have no idea who did and know very little about the company. I just love the application.

Delivering Value

As Insight Timer’s experience has improved its community of niche users is growing large. Insight Timer hasn’t received the same hype as the popular Headspace app, yet it boasts 1.2M+ users and is adding 2,500 users per day according to the company’s website. The app is completely free to use and the community is open. By remaining free and open, Insight Timer has created a network effect where users are engaged and sharing.

Information on Insight Timer as a company is limited and it’s unclear if they’ve raised capital. What is clear to me is that with very little marketing, the company is quietly amassing a large community of engaged users that it could monetize in a number of different ways. What was immediately valuable to me alone is becoming valuable to millions of people. As with any network-driven business model, the more users on the platform the more valuable it becomes for all users and eventually all stakeholders if monetization is attacked in a considerate way.

Quick Conclusion.

It’s common that when people think of startups in 2016 they think rapid growth at the expense of significant upfront capital. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, especially as the barriers for starting a company and building software have been lowered significantly.

If you discover a problem and a niche user base, you can deliver your customers immediate value by focusing on the critical path. And if you solve your user’s problem quickly with little friction, they’ll undoubtably share it with friends. I know I’ve shared Insight Timer with every one of my friends who are interested in meditation.

For what it’s worth, meditation has markedly improved my overall happiness by allowing me to handle tough situations with greater poise and serenity. I more quickly remember the “big picture” and I’ve seen other benefits as well. If you haven’t tried yet and are thinking about it, give it a shot.

If you have any questions about meditation, my post, startups, the critical path or anything else, please comment or reach out to me directly at or +1–646–681–78444.