Meet The Founder: Liam Murphy of Stix Mindfulness Meet the Founder
Like with many skills, people are far more likely to maintain lifelong mindful practices if they are introduced to the concept at an early age. Aiming to help give children the tools they need to do this, Stix Mindfulness is the interactive tool to teach children activities that foster imagination, mind-body connection and teach calming techniques that can be used for life.
We spoke to Liam Murphy, who co-founded the newly launched Stix with his Dad, John, to tell us more about the idea behind the business, and introduce us to all the ways Stix can have a lifelong positive impact on kids.
Where did the idea for Stix come from?
I first started practising mindfulness when I was around 17, as I found that it really helped me to deal with exam stress. To be honest, I felt like I would have really benefited from it at a younger age, had I known where to start, and it got me thinking about ways we could help introduce mindfulness to kids in a fun and engaging way.
Around 1 in 6 children and young people in the UK now have a diagnosed mental health condition, and while the numbers continue to rise, support for mental health care is becoming more and more difficult to access. We wanted to develop a product that could help tackle this problem, giving children access to tools that could ultimately improve their concentration, compassion and reduce anxiety, aggression and classroom misbehaviour.
How does it work?
The mindfulness remotes use audio, lights and vibration feedback to guide children through immersive screen-free activities, designed to be both fun and therapeutic and to aid with deep breathing, balancing and guided meditations – to name a few. The Stix can be synched with a companion app, allowing children and parents to track their progress over time, exploring day streaks, minutes played and more. Rewards are given to children after they practise their mindfulness activities, which can be used to unlock new items for their very own mindfulness monster avatar.
You’re set to launch in 2023 – how has the journey looked like up until now?
My father, John, and I co-founded Stix Mindfulness in early 2020, after I first thought up the concept as part of a University project. Since then, it’s really been about rigorous testing – ensuring every element is designed for the benefit of the children and the parents. The product has been tested with children both at home and in schools, and with the support from experts in mindfulness and mental health.
We hired a fantastic team who have worked to keep the technology evolving – with the additions of gamification, audio instructions and the offline mode feature, which all came from customer engagement and testing.
We’ve certainly had our ups and downs! Developing a hardware product isn’t easy – we’ve faced difficult technological moments – but the belief from the team in this product, and hearing the feedback from our users, helps drive us every day. We’re so excited to finally be ready to bring our product to market!
Why is it more important than ever to teach children mindfulness?
Practising mindfulness from an early age can help teach children wellbeing techniques that will support them through their development and growth. Helping children to understand different emotions and identify them when they arise is the first step towards managing their wellbeing. For example, helping them understand that ‘butterflies’ in their belly is a natural response when they feel worried or anxious, and that simple breathing techniques can often help them to return to normal.
As children grow into teenagers and experience more changes in their life, they will have a foundation of wellbeing knowledge and techniques to help them navigate through new challenges.
Why do you think children and parents will love this product?
We’ve been testing and developing the Stix remotes with support from users throughout our journey to ensure it is something that they want and need.
For children, the activities are fun and interactive, meaning children actually enjoy playing the activities. The children are rewarded with stars and badges for practising mindfulness, which they can use to customise their own mindful monster avatar on the app.
For parents, they can have peace of mind knowing that access to the app is not a necessity when using the product. Parents have the option to control their children’s screen time as activities can be launched through Stix offline mode by simply holding down the buttons – meaning no phone is needed. The app element of the user journey can be ‘earned’ by the children once they have practised their mindfulness activities and are ready to sync back up to the app to get their rewards.
What ages is it aimed for, and can they be used to play alongside others?
The current activities are designed for children ages 5-12, however we have had users that are younger and older than this age group (including adults) that have enjoyed playing the Stix activities. Our aim is to keep growing our library of activities so that children grow up with their Stix alongside them, by introducing content for teenagers and then content for adults.
What’s next in store for the brand?
Once we get our launch off the ground, we will be developing new content and new software systems to help us integrate a subscription offering to the product, enabling customers to download new activities and mindful content.
We can’t wait to engage with new customers, hear their success stories and get their feedback!