Hallow CEO Says Founders Need to Be Part of Something Bigger Than Themselves


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Hallow is the number one Catholic prayer and meditation app in the world with over 12 million downloads. And after a surge in downloads following its Super Bowl ad, it took the top spot on Apple's App Store across all apps.

The company has raised a total of $105 million to date, thanks, in large part, to the blood, sweat, and tears of co-founder and CEO Alex Jones. On this episode of The CEO Series, we visited Hallow's headquarters to speak with Jones about all things business, leadership, and faith. Below are some highlights from that powerful conversation which have been edited for length and clarity.

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Divine inspiration

“Hallow is a prayer and meditation app for anybody looking to grow closer to God. Its origin goes back to my faith journey. I was raised Catholic but fell away from my faith in high school and college. After I graduated, I got really into meditation. I found these apps that had just launched, Headspace and Calm, and I started using them every day and I loved them. But every time I would meditate, my mind would oddly feel pulled towards something spiritual, like an image of the cross. So I started reaching out to priests, pastors, and folks I knew from Notre Dame and asked what I thought was a really interesting question: Is there any way that there's some sort of intersection between this faith thing and this meditation thing? And they pretty much all laughed at me and said, “Yeah, we've been doing it for 2000 years. It's called prayer!” And that changed my life. I knew I needed to do this. I knew how to code a little bit so we built the first version and went from there. The app has helped me grow tremendously in my own spirituality, which has been phenomenal.”

Something bigger than themselves

“My cousin passed away when he was 45. He died in his sleep randomly. He had just gotten married and his wife was pregnant with their first kid. His mom, who is my aunt, was obviously heartbroken. We had just launched the app and she sent us a note that I have saved to this day. It said, ‘I honestly didn't think I'd be able to make it through my first Christmas without my son and I just want you to know that these little meditations on the app are the only thing that's reminded me that I'm able to have hope and that I'm able to get out bed and carry on in this deep time of a pain.' And I just like broke down crying on the floor in my tiny little studio apartment.”

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The challenges of fundraising

“The fundraising thing is super stressful for any CEO because it is crazy hard, especially in today's world. When you do the seed round, you have no real numbers to speak of. It's just your own story. And people are just judging you and you're questioning yourself. Do they like our concept? Are you sitting up straight enough? Are you looking in the eyes? Do I like this guy? I had roughly 80 meetings in the first two weeks, just pitching constantly. I remember I went back to my studio apartment after hearing no after no — people basically telling me that the core of who I am is stupid and this idea is never going to work. It was so heavy. I was so stressed. My heart was in pain. My back had all these knots in it. I started praying and I said, ‘God, look, this is too much. I can't do this. I'm done. I can't take this weight.' And then I was like, ‘I'm gonna make a deal with you. I promise if this thing works out, you're always gonna get the credit. I'm never gonna trick myself into thinking I'm some successful startup CEO who figured all this stuff out. It was all you.' That massive weight immediately lifted and the next day we went for a pitch meeting at a coffee shop with this guy and he gave us a term sheet. And we then get like three, four more the next day. It was just God being like, ‘Just wait.' I just needed to surrender.”

Advice to founders

“You have to find something bigger than yourself. You have to, there's no choice.”

Check out more profiles of innovative and impactful leaders by visiting The CEO Series archives.

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