Tushar Vashisht has been having trouble keeping himself fit. Overweight for his 32 years, the chief executive of HealthifyMe found his girth increasing as his fitness app company grew 20-fold in the last two years. Vashisht works out of a building that’s right in the middle of lip-smackingly famous eating joints of Indiranagar in east Bengaluru.

But it wasn’t the binge that added extra kilos to the otherwise lean entrepreneur. It was pulling HealthifyMe from the brink of bankruptcy three years ago. Today, the five-year-old company has over two million app downloads, according to Appbot. Its paid users range anywhere between 20,000-40,000, considering the 1-2% standard conversion rate for such apps. Vashisht insists they are on the higher side. For the sake of clarity, let’s take it as 30,000 paid users. Which ranks it just a little behind the so-far most successful company in this space, GOQii, which has over 50,000 downloads (equal to its subscriber base* since it’s a paid service), as per Appbot.

While GOQii positions itself as a healthcare platform, HealthifyMe is labeled as a weight-loss company. Although both started out with a similar idea: providing fitness services online through professional experts. Incidentally, Vashisht and Vishal Gondal, who sold his first company IndiaGames in 2011 for $100 million, met in Kochi at Ink Conference in October 2013. Until then, HealthifyMe was already offering this service to hospitals, but it wanted to get into consumer health. In January 2014, when Vashisht launched his app, little did he know that a month later Gondal would start GOQii, a remote fitness coaching platform like his, albeit integrated with a wearable.

HealthifyMe was the first Indian fitness app on Google Play, but it didn’t fly off the shelves. Staring near-death in its face, it made a last-ditch effort with Rs 60 lakhs in loans to relaunch the app with some frills. But once again, GOQii loomed large. After a test-run in early 2014, GOQii launched commercially in India, in August 2014. With marquee investors behind and a successful entrepreneur in front, GOQii overshadowed HealthifyMe.

But it also saved Vashisht.

HealthifyMe co-founders: Tushar Vashisht, chief executive (left) and Sachin Shenoy, head of engineering (right)

The boomerang moment

With Amit Singhal, former Google senior vice president, and Mike McNamara, chief executive of Flextronics, as investors, among others, GOQii suddenly brought health tech on the investors’ table. HealthifyMe, which had a similar model as GOQii, but without the wearable, also benefited. By September 2014, it managed to raise $750,000 in a seed round. Two years later, it raised $7 million from IDG Ventures India, Inventus Capital, Blume Ventures and NB Ventures. Buoyed by two million downloads, Vashisht says, “By March 2018, we will have five million users (downloads).”

Now five million is a lot of users.

AUTHOR

Moulishree Srivastava

Moulishree has over five years of experience in journalism. In her previous assignment, she was a Principal Correspondent for Business Standard where she wrote on technology and telecom. Prior to Business Standard, she was at Mint, where she wrote on various subjects — tourism, hospitality, real estate, science, cyber security and technology. Moulishree graduated as an engineer in Information Technology from Chandigarh Engineering College. She worked as a software engineer briefly but then took a detour and got her journalism degree from IIJNM, Bangalore. She will be based in Bangalore and you can reach her at her [email protected]

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