YOGA ON THE WEB
“Hong Kong is the most welcoming place for setting up a business”
Mikko Petäjä, CEO and Founder
Yoogaia is the world’s first and only live, interactive online yoga studio. With a professional teacher instructing via webcam, users are able to learn and interact with the teacher in real time. All that it takes is a computer with an Internet connection: like Facetime, a two-way, real-time connection offers the teacher the possibility to instruct the live class taking into account individual tendencies. With round-the-clock live and interactive online classes, as well as recordings, users can easily find a routine that works within their schedule, lifestyle, and budget. In addition to yoga, Yoogaia offers pilates, kettle bell, core, Tai Chi and stretching classes.
Yoogaia’s founder and CEO Mikko Petäjä explored various options before eventually choosing Hong Kong to be the company’s regional headquarters. “Hong Kong is the most welcoming place for setting up a business. There is a growing popularity of yoga in the city and in Asia, a well-developed pool of accredited yoga teachers and a reliable infrastructure online. Not only is the city adjacent to the huge Mainland market, it is also an ideal gateway to the rest of Asia,” he said.
Yoogaia in Hong Kong have two full time managers and is continuing to hire yoga instructors. “The potential for yoga has increased exponentially in the last five years. Well-established big studios co-exist with boutique studios in the city, but still classes are often over-booked. An increasing number of yoga apparel companies are setting up or expanding in Hong Kong, and the annual Asia Yoga Conference attracts more than 3,000 yoga practitioners,” Miko Bantigue, Country Manager, Hong Kong, added.
Petäjä founded the company following his own experience. Having to work long hours and with three children, he thought about the idea of doing yoga classes at home but was surprised he could not find any service provider to enable him to do so. He decided to start an online yoga studio that might solve this problem for many people.
Yoogaia was selected as one of the most promising startups of 2015 in Finland by TalouselämäMagazine, a Finnish business publication. Startups are often advised to start lean and Petäjä could not agree more. “It is very important to start off as lean as you can, be open-minded, test and validate your assumptions before you make a huge commitment. It requires willpower and courage and family support is also important,” hesaid.
The number of users of Yoogaia has now grown to around 20,000. With studios in Helsinki, London and Hong Kong, the company’s next target is New York.
Petäjä appreciates the comprehensive support that InvestHK provided during the setting up process. “The department supplied many useful contacts, networking opportunities, PR and marketing support, as well as information on legislation and various best practices,” he said.
Petäjä is already pondering his own relocation to Hong Kong. “I love the city – it is vibrant and immersive. You cannot help but fall in love with the energetic atmosphere here. The general mentality and the way of doing things are also conducive to startups in many ways,” he enthused.
- Founded in Finland in 2014
- Studios in Helsinki, London and Hong Kong