Entrepreneur Ankur Singh on SweatSo: An online community that lets you be socially conscious by being fit
Tell us about SweatSo.
Sweatso is an online platform where individuals can contribute towards the society by doing fitness activity and hence keeping themselves healthy and society healthier. You can log your fitness/Sports activity for which reward points (Calorie Credits) will be credited to your account which in turn will be recognised by corporates for their CSR activity. SweatSo helps you to find right place to do fitness activity, helps you to connect with right people and play your favourite sports. We are unique in our positioning for sports and social causes coupled with features bringing virtual and real world closer.
How did the idea for Sweatso come about? How did you zero in on the name ‘Sweatso’? How much capital was required to implement the idea?
“We feel the easiest thing in life is to start a fitness regime, because it is not necessary you continue it”. According to Mr. G. Ramachandaran, Director, Gold Gym India “on an average only 50% renewal happens for gym subscription”. The idea was to give a reason/motivation to general public as to why they should be involved in sports and fitness activity by making it count for a social cause. With the popularity of online platform to attract people’s attention, we thought of launching a social networking site for fitness and sports enthusiasts, where they connect with people having similar sports interests and worthwhile social causes. Once the user enters the fitness/sport activity, reward points will be generated which in turn will be recognised by corporate sponsors and converted into funds raised for worthwhile social causes. Hence the name SweatSo(Sweat for the Society) and the tag line “covert sweat equity into social equity”.
We(the founders) have put in INR 2 lakhs as initial capital and Rofous has 30% equity stake for site development cost of INR 4.5 Lakhs. Hence total initial capital implemented is INR 6.5 Lakhs.
Tell us about your background.
I have 4 years of experience in a leading bank of the country. I have expertise in corporate sales in assets profile and investment banking. Early in my career years I have established half a dozen tie ups with different trade organizations for driving in new business. I have done my engineering in Electrical and then went on to do MBA in Finance and Marketing ( from FORE school of Management, Delhi). Presently I am based out of Hyderabad.
My hectic profile as corporate manager could not stop me from participating in weekend cricket, football and basketball tournaments.
My co-founder, Sachin Gautam hates missing his gym session every day. Professionally he was looking after corporate funding in a private sector bank for the last 3 years. He has analyzed debt funding proposal for one of the top ten print media companies giving him a rich experience about the working of Media and Entertainment industry. Prior to this he has done his MBA in Banking and Finance from National Institute of Bank Management(RBI Body).
Let us know about the tie-ups that you have(if any). Is there acceptance for your concept? Can you give us some incidents to illustrate the same?
We have a tie up with mid sized IT Company Rofous for site development and maintenance. The company has shown interest in the idea and offered to render services for equity stake. This has given a boost to our start up keeping in mind capital constraints in initial stage.
Apart from this, there is lot of appreciation coming from reputed NGOs and corporate foundations based out of Hyderabad.
Where do you see social networking websites in India and Sweatso five years from now?
Online social networks are offering various brands ways to enter the psyche of consumers like never before; and that too at a small fraction of cost charged by traditional media. And the audience is more urban and more influential to new brand messaging. Unlike in traditional media, in social networks marketers don't just rely on banner advertisement & moonlighting on the profile pages. There are number of innovative ways to engage customers. Big players in the industry are Facebook, Orkut, Linkedin, and MySpace globally and in India we have Ibibo, Bigadda.
As far as India is concerned Internet penetration is around 6.5% of our population and out of this 36% are from small towns(Source: IAMAI Survey 2009-10). Also 60% of all internet users are members of some social networking websites (Source: comScore). This means that there is a big opportunity waiting to be tapped. The growth in social networking will depend on ability to create more engaging platforms 3-4 years down the line. Also it provides real time interactivity with users . Marketers can directly engage with target audience
At Sweatso we have set a three year goal for parameters like user base, advertisement revenue, team size and merchandising. Our team is working towards achieving 1.0 million user base and revenue of INR 10 Million. Also we intend to increase our team size to 20 members. And finally we want start the merchandising business to build the sweatso brand.
What is Sweatso’ revenue model?
Advertising is our source of revenue.
As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?
The whole experience of entrepreneurship is so satisfying, the sense of achievement every day and every minute of your work. Right from presenting your idea to a stranger to incorporating the company or negotiating with your supplier, every bit of it is so fulfilling and joyous.
As far as challenges are concerned for Sweatso, we recon our greatest challenge would be following two:
Since the concept can be copied easily, we foresee a major threat on copyright issue.
User trends on social networking sites, users frequently switch websites.
How big is the Sweatso team? Give us some info on team composition. Are you looking at hiring?
At present we are two members team me(Ankur) and Sachin. We have support of Rofous (IT Company, providing website development and maintenance service). Very soon an ex Olympian will join our team as mentor. We are looking for a developer to join us as part time technical partner.
Let us know about your expansion plans.
We are following the time-lines set by us, the website is developed and the beta version is already launched and it is at testing stage. We are currently focusing on marketing and promoting the site. As far as funds are concerned, presently we are using our own capital. We are still to explore the option of friends and family funding us. Simultaneously we are making engagements with NGOs in Hyderabad by sending them mailers and meeting them in person. We have got a reasonable response so far but we are pretty sure once we have a website which is fully operational, NGOs will see a good proposition in partnering with us. Once we have NGOs associated with us, we will be approaching the corporates.
We at YourStory are very curious about how SweatSo’s model gets adopted in India, and we shall keep you posted about all the developments at their end. Do check out http://sweatso.com and let us know what you think about the idea. Feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org