Gul Panag an entrepreneur now, co-founds mFitness startup MobieFit
Technology is changing our lives for the better and giving us large volumes of data that would have been otherwise impossible to keep track of. The health and fitness industry is making use of technology through smartphones and wearable devices to train, track and give users in depth data of their day to day activities and fitness levels.
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A recent entrant in this sector is MobieFit, co-founded by actress, activist and fitness advocate, Gul Panag, and Founder and Director of MobieFit and Prototyze, Gourav Jaswal. MobieFit is a start-up focused on fitness centred mobile apps. It aims to help users achieve their fitness goals at their time and convenience through their smartphones, without the need for additional hardware.
YourStory spoke to Gul Panag and Gourav Jaswal to understand more about MobieFit and their plans:
Coming out of stealth mode
MobieFit is one of the ventures born at Prototyze , an incubator in Goa founded by Gourav. They are currently working in stealth mode to build mobile technology centred businesses in multiple sectors such as financial services, health and fitness, and training and learning. Two ventures catalyzed by Prototyze are MobieFit and HandyTrain, which have already been incorporated as independent companies with independent teams, investment and trajectory.
Gourav agreed that Goa is a non-traditional location for setting up a mobile app company, but re-iterated that his previous start-ups were also based out of Goa and he found no dearth when it came to acquiring talent or other resources.
While the general public know Gul Panag as an actress, a social activist, a television commentator and a former Ms. India, she’s also been an icon for fitness for over a decade. She is a serial half-marathon runner and has been featured in multiple media outlets about her fitness routine and her running philosophy. Besides running, her passions include cycling, trekking and tennis.
Gourav started his first business at the age of twenty-one and since then has built half-a-dozen growing, profitable companies.This entrepreneurial ecosystem of companies include ScreenRoot which focusses on human-screen interaction design; Synapse which specializes in business communication, Visual JuJu that’s focused on multimedia and Starving Artist Films which makes films designed for online media.
MobieFit has currently developed two engines: a motion-based engine that uses mobile sensors to measure exercises, and a distance engine that uses GPS coordinates to track and log distance. Their first product is FirstRun, which is based on the distance engine. Currently, it is available on the Google Playstore for download, and a celebrity-backed version with Gul Panag is expected in five days.
Gaurav confirmed that MobieFit’s focus will be on coaching and motivating users to achieve their goals mainly through audio. Some of the features of the app will be based on Josh Clark’s open source ‘Couch to 5K’ running plan. Gourav added:
The new app will also include a treadmill mode apart from a free run mode, which will provide users instructions and guidance for effective running on treadmills in their gyms.
“Being fit helps you manage your other work better. Being fit essentially means greater physical capacity and you’re able to do much more. It puts you in a good mental state and increases your mental capacity.”
Gul is the Chief Fitness Officer at MobiFit and will be looking into the overall strategy. She is passionate about all things technology and sees mobile apps as the major catalyst of the next wave of fitness. She is one of India’s most powerful opinion makers and thought leaders and now an avid fitness entrepreneur who takes conscious activism to all her endeavors. She is in the process of writing a book on fitness.
“The book will chronicle my personal approach to fitness. Most of my off the record conversations after business meeting tend to start with ‘How do you stay fit?’ So I thought the next step would be to chronicle it into a book as I have learnt most of my lessons the hard way. Today for me being fit is almost effortless, and I want people to see it from my point of view.”
Indian fitness trends
On being asked about where Indians lack when it comes to fitness, Gul replied:
There are Indians who do a great degree of physical labour to earn a living and then there are those who sit on desks and drive cars, which is a small segment compared to the larger plethora of 1.2B Indians. Keeping that in mind, there are a lot people who eat healthy and have highly active lives. They have the kind of fitness levels, you and I would die for. Then there are certain sections leading a sedentary lifestyle in India because of their work schedules, who need to be more active.
She felt that though the West is battling obesity and lifestyle diseases, there is more awareness and focus around fitness there, which is slowly catching up in India now. More Indians are now aware and understand the benefits of staying active and fit.
Business model and future plans
Gaurav confirmed that their upcoming app will be free to download and use initially with all premium features. In the future they plan to charge users through either a subscription model or through in-app purchases. They are also planning to launch multiple apps for different purposes and use cases.
While they are currently not planning to integrate with wearable devices, Gourav echoed James Bond’s catchphrase “Never say, Never” and re-iterated that if wearables pick up in India they will provide services on that platform too.
On a parting note, here are few fitness tips from Gul Panag that she shared with us:
-Any journey to fitness starts with nutrition, eating right. There is difference between food that is nutritious and food that is indulgence. We may like a lot of things and enjoy eating them but only a few of them are actually nutritious.
- Eat in accordance with your energy expenditure levels: If you expend a lot of energy you can eat more. Adjust it according to your daily needs.
- Build in some amount of physical activity into your schedule for at least half an hour a day for five days a week