Interview with Lainey Morse, founder of Original Goat Yoga.
What is your company and what is its main goal?
My company is called Original Goat Yoga. Our goal is to give people an enjoyable and unique experience that they’ll never forget by combining goats and yoga. It’s really about getting people outside in nature to bond with an animal and get a little exercise. It’s our take on a new form of animal-assisted therapy. It’s also helping family farms gain a new revenue stream by branching out into the agritourism arena which is what I belive this activity is.
When did you start your business and why?
I invented Goat Yoga in 2016. It was an experiment I was trying because I learned that being around my goats when I was going through a tough time in life made me forget about depression or illness and made me happy so I set out to create a program where other people could disconnect from their day to day stress and focus on happiness. Goats have a sense of calm about them and when you are around that I think humans take on that energy. They’re also really funny animals and make you laugh and so if you put those two characteristics together it’s a very therapeutic combination.
What makes you different from your competition?
What makes me different from the competition is that I was the first! I spoke to over 300+ people through the past 3 years about opening their own goat yoga business. Most called because I thought they wanted to start one of my satellite locations but in the end, most just started their own business so I basically trained all of my competition. When I look at their websites or facebook pages there are so many that word for word, say the exact same thing as my website does. Some even just copied and pasted the information I have on my website. And shockingly enough, a lot of them claim to have invented it themselves or the way they word it makes it sound like they just came up with the idea one day. It’s a surreal experience to go through. The other thing that makes me different from the competition is that my form of goat yoga is meant to be a therapy for people. I don’t dress up my goats in costumes, I don’t place goats on people’s backs and I don’t train them to do that. I don’t feed them treats to try and get them to interact with humans. My goats are so social and loving that they just naturally want to be by humans and snuggle up next to them and lay on your mat. There are a lot of goat yoga businesses out there these days that are almost like a circus atmosphere by dressing them in costumes and forcing the goats to cooperate. We estimate there are over 500+ goat yoga businesses all over the World now from South Africa to London and beyond.
What marketing channels do you use for your growth?
In the beginning, I used Facebook which was the main viral engine. After Goat Yoga went viral I made an Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Tumblr account. Social media changes so quickly and three years later, I’m still using Facebook but it’s really calmed down from the viral stage. Instagram seems to be picking up steam and I rarely post on Twitter and I don’t use Tumblr at all any longer. I haven’t posted anything on the YouTube page in quite a while as well. Managing social media, I feel you need to pick a couple of them that give you good results and stick with it so I mainly just use Facebook and Instagram now. As for my other marketing channels I use Google Ads for almost all my advertising. When we ask people where they heard about us they mainly say a google search. Since I was the first, my site always comes up first and so putting money into google ads is very effective. We also have a lot of media and influencers want to come to our classes and produce free videos. This has been key for getting our reach out there. Cute goat videos always catch someone’s attention. We also always ask everyone to like our social media pages and share their pictures with us after the events.
What are you expected to grow in terms of revenue in the next 12 months?
The growth of the company has been mind-blowing. What started out as an experiment on my farm has now grown into 13 Original Locations all over the USA and we have many more in the application process to become an affiliate. We’re also in the midst of redoing our website and business model to include other Goat yoga businesses (Premium Subscribers) who list their events on our website for a small percentage. It’s much like the Eventbrite model but we figured we’d open that up because we had such explosive growth on the private events side of the business. We do so many Corporate Health & Wellness events and many times we don’t have a location in that area so we’ll reach out to other goat yoga businesses to do the events for us. We charge a percentage to organize the event (contracts, credit card processing, customer service, etc.) for them and they do the event. It’s a great business model. If they’re on our platform, that means that we go to them first for private events if we don’t have a location in that area. We anticipate this will be a 7 figure business by next year, if not sooner as we add more satellite locations, Premium Subscribers as well as licensing our brand.