As chief executive, he steered online fashion portal Myntra into a $300 million-acquisition by the e-commerce company Flipkart. Today, the well-dressed and well-coiffed Mukesh Bansal moves away from the business of looking good to the business of feeling great—health platform Cure.fit.
Bansal is a man with an ambitious project that’s reaping quick benefits. Cure.fit raised $43 million in just one year, and now, it has a five-year plan of massive scale up with eyes firmly fixed on the urban middle class and corporate India.
Interestingly, Bansal’s greatest challenge is his antipode, yoga guru-turned-businessman Baba Ramdev. Separated by a decade in age, the two represent divergent outlooks to health, wellness and lifestyle. But they are not so far removed from each other in their end goals.
Through Cure.fit Bansal wants to capitalise on the current wave of what Ramdev’s Patanjali has come to symbolise. “We want Cure.fit to stand for trust, sort of like Patanjali. Patanjali comes from yoga and spiritual angle, we are coming from a science and youth perspective,” he says. “Ultimately the goal is the same—to build a brand you can trust.”
Before you question the similarity, Bansal is quick to add that Patanjali has a ‘health’ positioning in the products it retails, yoga regimens it promotes, or Ayurveda clinics it runs in some cities. Though it’s another matter that there’s a difference between health positioning and actually delivering health to the customer.
A full stack health platform, with a mix of services and products sold through an app, and a full range branding with .fit, Bansal has the stacks sorted: Offline gyms for fitness in Cult.fit; meditation and yoga centres in Mind.fit; and hyperlocal health-food service in Eat.fit. And by early 2018, it even wants to get into primary healthcare, with Care.fit centres.
Each of these is a complex business. But Bansal is on a tear. Buying gyms, yoga centres and food delivery companies and rebranding them, even though he says “acquisition is not a big part of his strategy”. Cure.fit has acquired six companies in a year.
“We are building 90% of the business ourselves. We have targeted very small companies which can speed up our go-to-market by three to six months. We acquired Cult and Tribe for the teams running them,” he says. He’d like people to know that this time around he is not building a business for vanity metrics, rather a gross profitable business from the start.
How does Bansal plan to do that given that most digital health companies, even globally, are chipping away on the fringes with no profitability or scale in sight?