Startup Saturday: Are Pune’s entrepreneurs fit enough to cash in?

Hindustan Times, Pune | ByNamita Shibad
Oct 20, 2019 04:00 PM IST

Technology has given birth to fitness apps that offer a huge array of services to the minions. In India, though, the wave is just beginning to crest

With wearable health tech seen as an expensive add-ons, Namita Shibad meets three health and fitness app entrepreneurs who belive the formula to cracking the India market is a click away.

Technology has given birth to fitness apps that offer a huge array of services to the minions.(REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
Technology has given birth to fitness apps that offer a huge array of services to the minions.(REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)

Rohan Pusalkar, founder and director of United Health & Fitness Federation (across the country) and director of Gold’s Gym feels that though technology is great, “the crux of the matter is that you have to pull yourself out of your chair, bed, home, or office and work out. No app can do that for you. One of our gyms is on the first floor and the other five floors have IT companies. Out of the 600 employees, not even 10 use the gym. ”

Says Vidyadhar Date VP, Software Exporters Association of Pune, “IT companies are very focused on employee well being. While some may be more proactive and give gym memberships and use varied apps to keep tabs on fitness routines, others look at offering healthy food options. Health and fitness has certainly captured the mind of corporates.”

Neha Motwani, co-founder, Fitternity

Neha Motwani (HT PHOTO)
Neha Motwani (HT PHOTO)

Fitternity offers its users access to a variety of gyms on a pay-per-session basis

- 3X growth Y-O-Y

- Revenues of $1 million (accounting rate of return).

- OnePass, corporate wellness growing 100% month on month.

Why I quit my job

The idea of Fitternity stemmed from a user need that we faced in 2013 - wanting to get fit, but not knowing where/how to begin. We thought it would be great to have a platform that helped locate and book fitness classes and gyms. Not just that, but also making it cost-effective and easy to access. There were no such platforms available. We felt India really needed something that can make an impact on 65 million urban Indians who would want to be healthy and will come online to get started with their fitness journey. This need is slated to only grow with mobile and internet penetration. I quit my job and created Fitternity.

Making it happen

We wanted to create a fitness platform for consumers and bring organisation and standardisation to the fragmented fitness industry. We started off as a discovery platform, where we made the process of scouting for gyms and fitness centres easy. Easy user interface and navigation were our core concerns. We repeatedly worked on consumer feedback and internal learnings to create the product - Fitternity - that we have today. The website was our first user offering and then we launched the Fitternity app to provide a personal, on-the-go mobile experience. We have a dedicated tech team to meet the ever-changing consumer demand. Slowly, but surely, we saw opportunities and evolved into options for transactions like the Pay-Per-Session model and the recently launched OnePass, based on a subscription.


Choice. Our customers can choose from 17+ fitness forms and a vast network of 12,000+ fitness centres at the lowest prices. Add to that our unique “no validity feature” on the membership which solves the biggest challenge users face - of wastage or under-utilisation of their spends in fitness due to non or low usage of their fitness memberships in the defined validity period. To that end we have offerings like OnePass and Pay-Per-Session.

Users can purchase workout sessions using Pay-Per-Session, memberships and workout session packs online with easy payment options, including EMI. Additionally, a fitness concierge guides and assists.

What next

We have started operations in the larger wellness space of sports, spas, healthy eating and e-retailing of fitness merchandise. We are currently active in nine+ top cities in India and aim to expand to 16 by Q1 2020. In the next year we will also launch Fitternity outside India, in Southeast Asia.

Anand Subra, chief knowledge officer, PurpleTeal; Ram Narayanan, co-founder

Anand Subra (HT PHOTO)
Anand Subra (HT PHOTO)

Upload a picture of your plate on Tweak & Eat app, and using AI as well as nutritionists, it guides you on portion size and nutritional value of your meal, based on your condition, in real time.

- In India, USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kuwait and the Philippines.

- App hit 800,000+ installs across above markets in in one year.

- 4th trending App on Google Play Store in the health & wellness category (2018)

Why I quit my job

We always wanted to make a difference to people with their weight-related health issues. We scouted apps and websites to find that most appealed to “power users” – people who were deeply engaged in healthy diets and exercise and used such apps to further hone their habits. What about the average person? We felt we should come up with a much easier approach, one that would appeal to the average user, and require far less effort; but, also provide useful functionality for power users.

Making it happen

Nutritionists view the picture and suggest portion adjustments, swaps, eating sequence, based on nutritional content and recent meal history, as well as subscriber physical parametres, diet restrictions, allergies and wellness goals. Subscribers also get personalised advice, coaching and recommendations for future meals, and they can chat with nutritionists and get clarifications.

Tweak & Eat also uses AI and analytics to help nutritionists do a better job of giving real-time meal advice and information to health conscious users. Tweakyfai, our proprietary AI platform is being use to automate some ‘tweak’ (meal-modification) activities such as analysing meals, generating the nutrition profile of the meal and escalating certain exceptions to nutritionists. Tweakyfai is even trained to differentiate between deep-fried and grilled/stir-fried/baked food.


Tweak & Eat is the only service that provides personalised, real-time diet advice, at the point of consumption (before you eat). Simply upload a picture of a meal, get a personalized “tweak” to the meal from one of our nutritionists within a minute, and follow the ‘Tweak’ towards healthy eating.

Real-time adjustments to your meals, on the go and before eating, is far superior to learning about what you consumed after-the-fact. Real time assistance greatly helps users manage diabetes and address any form of food related illness.

What next

By the end of 2020, we aim to register 15 million subscribers worldwide. We will establish an extensive database of multi-ethnic food images, nutritional data and individual preferences. We want to exploit artificial intelligence technologies to scale up to billions of tweaks.

Sapna Talreja, founder, Happley.Fit

Sapna Talreja (Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)
Sapna Talreja (Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)

Personalised and simplified way to achieve a healthy lifestyle

100+ customers of Indian origin

Average of 70 per cent clients stay for a minimum period of 16 weeks

Why I quit my job

I started this company as a result of my own personal need - what one should, or shouldn’t do, to live a healthy life. I also found that many places in this market, exhibit a lack of expertise and a ‘one size fits all’ approach when dealing with fitness, thereby resulting in just the opposite – instead of becoming healthy, people are becoming more unhealthy. We provide personalised service to our customers.

Making it happen

Since we started with the objective to make healthy living accessible, simple and affordable we had to target dietary habits, activity patterns after identifying the person’s readiness to achieve their goals. Then we had to identify resources and facilitators who could help with nutrition, exercise and motivation. We started with three members, including myself. Meghna is our “nutrition” pillar. She brings to the table, vast experience, having worked with Unicef. Vijay is our “exercise” pillar - a passionate fitness enthusiast with 15 plus years of experience. I, am the “motivation” pillar. Once our core team was in place, we started with a Facebook page. This helped cut down overheads while providing us with excellent traction at the first go.


Personal touch. In spite of the availability of technology the personal touch is a major part of our offering. Nothing can substitute personal touch and motivation.

On the nutrition front, we understand diversity and our team is equipped to understand and deal with the variety of Indian cultural palates and medical conditions. Our personalised approach leads us to “mapping”, based on an individual’s goal, medical condition and cultural food habits.

On the exercise front – we have “live” exercise group classes as well as personal classes.

What next

Grow customer base to 250+ customers by the end of this financial year. We are working on a program offering a ‘Gift Fitness this Diwali’, where together with Happley.Fit, once can gift an underprivileged person “fitness”. We should be launching the app by Diwali.

By the numbers

In 2016, 58,17,000 people in India died due to non communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes - WHO

Non communicable diseases account for 61% of all deaths in the country (2016) - WHO

Wellness industry to reach $1.5 trillion by 2020 - FICCI and E&Y

At least 90% of IT companies are involved in some kind of wellness activity for their employees - Software Exporters Association of Pune

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