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This inspiration-focused new app was founded in Delaware

Moksha - Liberation delivers words of wisdom to you on your phone when you need them most.

A screenshot of the Moksha Liberation app (Screenshot by Technical.ly)

It was Johanna Jackson’s 50th birthday, and her wish came true: The app that she had conceptualized and worked on for two years was live in the Apple App Store.

Jackson, a single mom with a career in finance living in Wilmington, got the idea for the app she named Moksha — “liberation” in Sanskrit — from her drive to find fulfillment.

“I am definitely what I consider a seeker,” Jackson told Technical.ly. “I am definitely into self-development, finding ways to live a happier, more fulfilled life, because I definitely did not come from that.”

A first-generation American, Jackson’s family came from Chile and settled in Delaware in the ‘70s. She was the first member of the family born in the US, and describes her childhood as chaotic.

“There were a lot of limiting beliefs,” she said, “a lot of poverty, scarcity, insecurity — just not realizing their worth, what this life was capable of giving them. But I always had this knowing inside of me that life doesn’t have to be this hard.”

She developed a love for collective wisdom. She would cover the computer in her office with notes, each one with a quote or words of wisdom to help her through the day. As someone who used her smartphone frequently, she searched for an app that would allow her to send herself words of wisdom through the device, but came up empty.

Words frequently attributed to a modern translation of the Jewish sage Hillel came to her mind:

“If not you, who? If not now, when?” 

“I was like, ‘Okay, why not me? Why don’t I do it?’” she said.

Since Jackson never considered herself tech-savvy, she started by sourcing knowledge within my networks.

Johnanna Jackson

Johanna Jackson (Courtesy photo)

Since Jackson never considered herself tech-savvy, she started by sourcing knowledge within my networks. 

“I know what I know, but I wouldn’t consider myself a techie,” she said. “The first thing I did was I started asking my tech friends about this. What’s interesting is that when you want to create something, you are definitely going to run into people who support you. And at the same time, you’re going to run into people who won’t support you and will say, ‘Oh, Johanna, that’s too big! That’s going to cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars!’ The naysayers, right?”

Jackson refused to listen to the ones who weren’t supportive. She didn’t have much money to put into the project, but she’d been involved with grassroots movements that started with nothing — including as a cofounder of Faithful Friends, a successful Delaware no-kill animal shelter that she said started in a living room.

It never occurred to her to look for an investor.

“I just started asking people, ‘Do you know anyone who could help me develop an app?’ A volunteer that I was working with was like, ‘Yeah, my neighbor is going to school for that,’” she said. “We went through all of the hurdles, like it was rejected [by the Apple App Store] a couple of times and we had to go back and fix it and redefine what we were doing,” she said.

That neighbor turned out to be her project partner and app developer, Jagnaudh Bhatia, who worked on it in his spare time between classes and work. 

The Moksha – Liberation app is simple: When you open it, you can swipe through different sayings and quotes, like “You are a burgeoning superstar,” in a typewriter font over a dark stippled background. You can also create your own quotes, which Jackson approves herself. The features that really represent Jackson’s vision, though, are the “nudge” feature where you can set times (she likes 11:11, which she says is symbolic for “new beginnings”) for the app to send you a random quote or saying as a push notification on your phone, as a mood lifter (or maybe as a reminder to take a break); and the widget, where you can integrate quotes into your smartphone screen.

Jagnaudh Bhatia

Jagnaudh Bhatia (Courtesy photo)

“I wanted something basic,” Jackson said. “I didn’t want it to get too crazy — you know how you can make something way over complicated? I know that I’m not alone. I want to simplify my life. I don’t want to make things more complicated and I do like the simplicity of my app.”

The app is free, with a no-ads subscription available, in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, which is a triumph in itself for Jackson.

“I got to release it and I’ll never forget it,” she said. “My daughter is 11 now, she had her little hand on my hands. We hit the button to hit the release. That, for me, was so cool, for her to be a part of it and for her to see. Something from nothing. I love that we did that together, and that we did it on that day.”

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