Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar has invested an undisclosed amount in GOQii as part of the fitness startup’s series C financing round.
Akshay Kumar has for long been an advocate of a healthy lifestyle and a living example of what GOQii believes in - exercise, eat healthy and rest well. Together, GOQii and Akshay Kumar will strive to make 130 crore Indians healthy and fit, said Vishal Gondal, co-founder and CEO of GOQii.
In an interview with The Passage, he elaborated on GOQii’s unifque features, competition and future plans.
The Passage: Can you explain GOQii’s ecosystem complete with the mission statement and market presence?
Vishal Gondal: We founded GOQii in 2014. It is India’s first comprehensive digital health and wellness ecosystem facilitating a permanent shift to a healthier lifestyle among all age groups and tackling India’s three main lifestyle diseases i.e., diabetes, cancer and hypertension. Given the state of curative care and poor delivery of infrastructure in India, we strongly believe that preventive healthcare is the only viable, long term, mass-market solution.
Our preventive healthcare ecosystem holistically integrates users’ data with real-time personalised coaching and expert advice, coupled with an e-commerce health store, GOQii Play.
We also announced the launch of a new device this year, GOQii VitalECG that will focus on cardiac care. Our new device will be able to detect heart rate, blood pressure and more. This is part of GOQii’s disease management space. We are also working with pharma companies, in the non-fatty liver disease area, GOQii platform has helped patients in this program to make a lifestyle change for the better and reduce their issues. The GOQii program for pharma companies is a beyond the pill patient care program wherein we are managing chronic health issues of our patients through medical adherence, diet counseling, behavioural modification, and other positive lifestyle changes. This method has proved to be fruitful and is seeing great results.
We realised that motivation is big. Being motivated to stay healthy is a task. Hence, incentivisation helps. As a first step towards this, we introduced GOQii Cash: GOQii Cash is a virtual reward program awarded for completing weekly steps targets and other health goals. These points can then be redeemed at the Health Store. The GOQii health store is a curated market place to provide healthy, organic products along with fitness equipment.
The Passage: How do you disrupt the crowded market of wearable technologies?
Vishal Gondal: We are not a Wearable company. We are a complete health ecosystem platform. Further, to keep users engaged and ensure they have a sustainable and beneficial experience on a healthcare platform like GOQii, we continually build a range of unique features that make us the Internet of Health. These are: Fitness tracker - Advanced fitness tracker with step counter, heart rate, blood pressure, inactivity alert, habit reminders and more; Personal Coach - A fitness professional who can guide and motivate users via the in-app chat and scheduled phone calls to live a healthy life. They give advice based on the user’s health and lifestyle data; Health Risk Assessment - The platform also enables the users to take a comprehensive health risk assessment to get a detailed understanding of their health risks. This data is also visible to GOQii care team to better coach and guide the users; Health Locker - The health locker is a digital repository that provides unlimited secure cloud storage to keep user’s medical files like HRA, blood reports, medical bills etc. which they can access and share with their coach and doctor; Diagnostics - Users can book blood test and other diagnostics tests from the app. The reports of these tests are stored seamlessly into their health locker. Doctor - Doctors work with the coaches and experts to give lifestyle-based health recommendations. Users can schedule a call with the doctor and discuss their health issues; GOQii Cash - GOQii Cash is a virtual reward program awarded for completing weekly steps targets and other health goals. It can be redeemed at the Health Store; Health Store - It is a curated market place to provide healthy, organic products along with fitness equipment; GOQii Play - GOQii play is an interactive video coaching platform. It broadcasts health related shows that range from fitness/yoga, self-help, personality development, nutrition, emotional and sexual wellness etc. The users can raise their queries and get immediate feedback from the GOQii coaches during their respective sessions. GOQii has partnered with celebrity fitness experts across diverse forms to provide online coaching to users; GOQii Arena - The GOQii social feature lets users discover and make new friends, share their fitness stories and motivate each other. It helps them build communities of likeminded people or those with similar health goals.
The Passage: Tell us about your overseas expansion plans.
Vishal Gondal: We have plans to launch soon in the overseas market. As when the plan fructifies we shall announce.
The Passage: Do you count CureFit, Fitbit as your competitors?
Vishal Gondal: The health and fitness market in India is big to have several players and we don’t see anyone as directly competing with GOQii Ecosystem. However, the biggest reason why people stop using our services is “laziness” hence, we consider laziness as our biggest competition. Our vision is to make 130 crore Indians lead a healthy life and we are always excited at the contributions, innovations and growth of other start-ups in the sector.
The Passage: How do you keep the customers who give up easy hooked? The kind who cancels the subscription after a soft tryout?
Vishal Gondal: There’s only one mantra to ensure customers are hooked to the platform – listen to their needs and continually evolve. This has truly worked for us. At any time a user comes on to our platform, we offer a robust mix of fresh and wide-ranging content (video and written) on fitness and healthcare, several incentive-based offers, discounts and competitions among others.
On our GOQii Play, every day, we have fresh content for users to interact with. As explained above, we have GOQii Cash rewards program wherein every user who completes certain daily/weekly targets is rewarded with GOQii points that can be redeemed at the GOQii Health Store across all products. We understand the value of doing good and how important it is to every human. So, we came up with Karma points where a user gets 1 karma point for every 390 steps. These points can be donated towards NGO’s or social projects listed on our platform.
We also have challenges running on the app. We recently concluded the India Steps Challenge, which was a first-of-its-kind, 100-day nationwide challenge to encourage Indians to walk more and we witnessed a participation of more than 2 million Indians!
So, in a nutshell, we offer every user a broad range of activities to interact with and this has helped us retain our customers to a great extent.