In a country of a billion-plus people and a food heritage of thousands of years, there was no easy way to track nutrition and calories in common Indian dishes. Calorie counters developed in the West were unable to account for the calories in Indian cuisine. HealthifyMe was started by Tushar Vashisht and Sachin Shenoy in early 2012 to simplify healthy living. HealthifyMe uses a combination of cloud-powered software (smartphone application), hardware (wearable activity trackers, weight trackers) and human assistance (nutritionists, trainers and yoga instructors) helping people lose weight and become fitter. We chat with Tushar about the Venture. An Excerpt from the Interview:
- What made you start your venture?
I had returned from investment banking to join the Unique ID project with the Govt of India. While in the UID project, I gained about 18 kgs! I attributed it to junk food around him, not knowing about the impact that food was having on my physique and no easy access to gyms/parks and trainers. While trying to reverse my lifestyle, along with my cofounder Sachin Shenoy, I started tracking my lifestyle and that system led to the birth of HealthifyMe.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
HealthifyMe uses a combination of cloud-powered software (Smartphone application), hardware (wearable pedometers) and human assistance (nutritionists, trainers and yoga instructors) to help people reach their fitness goals. At the heart of HealthifyMe’s platform is the world’s first and largest Indian Calorie Tracker, which allows users to track their food, exercise and weight, easily via their smartphone or computer while continuously analyzing the user’s data and provide powerful insights that ensure that users stay within their calorie/nutrition budgets. HealthifyMe’s premium users connect with their dedicated experts using in-app messaging interface and via Skype. They ask their questions and get feedback anytime, anywhere. It remains nothing less than a 24×7 personal trainer in your pocket. The experts make sure they understand the user’s lifestyle from morning to midnight and help make changes within their lifestyle one step at a time. The experts are responsible for some tough love like any friend; laud them at every achievement and also make them feel accountable. However HealthifyMe’s differentiators are: A. Can work without a hardware/wearable as well which are getting commoditised and smartphone/smart watches are taking on more and more sensors. B. World’s first Indian Calorie Counter with each food broken down into their macro and micro nutrients. Nutrition forms the core of our platform. C. Team of nutritionists, fitness experts and Yoga instructors strive to provide a holistic weight loss experience. HealthifyMe’s high human touch gives much better consumer delight. As we scale, our technology will help us add leverage to the high human touch as well. D. Very powerful analytical engine.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
We started as an Indian calorie tracker. We evolved the product and User experience to a point where it became the best calorie tracker that is out there for Indian customers. However, we realised that self service is a mode that we as Indians are not the most comfortable with. We like assisted models – be it in restaurants or in wellness. Therefore we evolved and added nutritionist, trainer service layer on top of our application. This resulted in even greater impact and engagement with our clients. Today we are able to deliver: – 25% improvement in fiber and protein intake – 15% decrease in fat intake – Four to Five kg of weight loss in 12 weeks of users joining us. Using experts and technology, today almost 100,000 users have benefitted from HealthifyMe and met their goals – be it weight loss, eating healthy or staying fit.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
Yes, some of our key advisors are Raj Mashruwala, Kunal Bajaj, Sashi Reddy, Vivek Raghawan and Arun Seth.
- Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
Technology plays a major role in our day-to-day operations right from internal business systems to business communications. Our CRM tools and customer engagement dashboards ensures the best experience for our customers.
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
Healthifyme is a smart weight loss solution. HealthifyMe delivers its promise by handholding and guiding its users towards a healthier and fitter lifestyle in a sustainable manner. HealthifyMe uses the latest scientific knowledge and technology solutions with access to nutrition and fitness experts who ensure success for each individual user. We also work with leading medical channels and co-market with large retail companies. We are working on major digital media campaigns to reach a much wider base across India and Asia.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?