Orobind, a personal fitness coach for those who need motivation

30th Jan 2015
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Remember a month ago the New Year resolution you made to yourself to diet, exercise and lose weight? Already forgotten them? Or have you finally run out off excuses?

But what if you could work out from the comfort of your home, at your convenience and still get results? Why would anyone looking to keep fit and healthy say no to it. Cashing on this opportunity, Satya Vyas and Shubhanshu Srivastava started Orobind. Satya is the CEO and Co-founder and Shubhanshu the CTO.

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Orobind connects customers with a trusted coach through their app, making it possible for people to achieve their health goals and create healthier communities. Orobind is a marketplace to discover personal fitness coaches around you and book their sessions. You can set your weight loss goals, earn rewards as you progress towards your goals and monitor your progress discussing it continuously either with their in-house coaches/motivation experts or your personal coach. You also get unlimited access to nutritional experts and algorithm driven workout plans to get you to your goals. “Our customers have been losing a good three kgs in four weeks on an average,” says Satya.

The Co-founders Shubhanshu and Satya go way back; they were together at IIT Roorkee. In 2012, they conceptualized the idea and registered for it in a different domain name. Their busy lives at Chai Point and Snapdeal kept them busy till the loss of a colleague spurred Satya to take a close look at his life and his choices. Death of a loved one has a way of putting things in perspective for those of us who are left behind and I speak from my own personal experience.

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Shubhanshu Srivastava and Satya Vyas

Satya took off to Pondicherry one day to think and confront the questions plaguing him. Sometime during his walkathon around Pondicherry, he found the answers. “I wanted to create impact at the broader level. I wanted to build a company/product which could impact the lives of people in a positive manner at least by a magnitude of 10X (magnitude of 10X is a concept borrowed from Andy Grove's book Only the Paranoid Survive). It gave me immense clarity of what not to do.”

Of all the potential ideas he had in mind, the one of transforming people's lives by making them healthy was where Satya thought maximum impact could be created. “Imagine if you play a role in making a person fitter and healthier you add a lot of self confidence to that person, their chances of performing well in their work goes up, their personal relationships become better and healthy people invariably make healthy families. This kind of an impact is huge. Very rarely does one get a chance to build something meaningful which can transform not just a single customer but an entire community.”

Satya got back to Subhanshu and the first and the hardest step they took was to leave Chai Point and Snapdeal respectively. Orobind was officially incorporated in June 2014 and started from Satya’s 140 sq. ft apartment which was converted into an office. “With getting friends to chip in whatever they could from markers, dusters, kitchen equipments, bed sheets, curtains we saved money where ever we could,” says Satya. Orobind draws its name from the Bengali version of Sri Aurobindo.

The core team comprises of eight members of which three (including Satya and Subhanshu) are from IIT Roorkee. The team has a simple principle -- work and workout. “The team has dedicated time for workout, three of the members have a six pack while others are getting there, says Satya with a smile.

With word of mouth marketing they have received a good response from customers. They started running the business on an excel sheet first. Satya got on the road and met all the customers at their homes individually. Later in the evening, he and Shubhanshu used to discuss the learnings and then start building the product based on their discussions. “We haven’t had any marketing strategy thus far. Word of mouth is working well for us and we are riding on that at the moment and will continue to do so for a while,” he says.

Orobind has received seed funding from Lalit Mangal, Co-founder of Commonfloor, and Sameer Mehta, an entrepreneur from ISB Hyderabad. A few senior engineers from Microsoft and TransOcean are on the list as well.

At present, local gyms are still popular though the gym instructors are still an unorganized lot. “In the US, there is a lot of activity happening in the space, but not that much in India as of now. We intend to change that,” says Satya.

Right now, team Orobind is running a few experiments to understand consumer behavior while they continue to scale up their tech platform. Once these are grasped and better understood, they plan to scale up in Bangalore and gradually roll out to other bigger cities.

A lot of activity in the health and fitness sector is seen through the increasing number of fitness and health apps that have gained popularity. Though apps are gaining popularity, wearables have not met with a similar response. There are a lot of reasons like health and cost that are stopping wearables from being worn today. Apps and wearables require high motivational levels from the user. These are meant for those who are driven to be fit at all cost. Those who need constant guidance and motivation to exercise and keep fit prefer working out at a gym or dance studio. However, given the time constraints and the stressful lives we lead, majority of these people never end up exercising. This is a sector where players like Orobind can in future enjoy the first mover advantage.

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