Nakul Kapur is an active runner and cyclist. Having played multiple sports, he wanted to learn the basics of tennis. But he found that searching online for facilities and trainers wasn’t helping him find what he needed. Rahul Wadhwa, his friend and Co-founder, likes to spend his weekends on the basketball court. He found that it was not easy to locate basketball courts and other gym facilities whenever he travelled to new cities for work. So to tackle their pain point they started Playnlive.
What is it?
Playnlive is an online sports and fitness discovery and booking platform that provides information related to sports, coaching academies, sports clubs, gyms and fitness centers. They are currently active across five cities in India and provide details related to the address, photographs (if available), contact numbers and give users access to free trial booking options for about 9000 facilities.
They cover about 25 sports and 50+ activities and provide a pass facility, which is live in Delhi with 250 facilities across 40 activities. They allow users to book personal training sessions for yoga, fitness, self defense, nutritionists, and dietitians etc and also allow users to request booking for grounds or courts for various sports.
They have received more than 100 requests for their ‘passes’ facility and are running beta with their network of these trainers. Nakul says, “With the monthly passes, users will be able to visit any of the gyms we have tied up with across any of the five cities. The only constraint is that users need to pre-book their slot in advance.”
Story so far
The startup was co-founded by Nakul and Rahul. Nakul started off his product management journey with Oxigen Services in 2012, after graduating from International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi. He had earlier completed his graduation in economics from Delhi University. Rahul earned a Bachelors’ degree in commerce from Hansraj College, Delhi University, and after that worked with Bharti Airtel in the fixed assets domain. They found that ‘discovery’ and ‘booking’ of fitness centres and sports facilities is a problem for both fitness enthusiasts and service providers. Their love for sports and fitness brough them together to start up. Nakul adds in jest,
I am the co-founder and clerk to CEO for Playnlive. I ensure everything from working of ACs in our office to the next deployment of our product on the website and mobile. I am an early adopter of consumer Internet products and fancy building Playnlive as a global consumer Internet company.
He had previously worked in the product management team at Paytm, building the Paytm Wallet.Traction and business model
With a team of eight, Playnlive claims to have over 10,000 verified listings, having served more than 5000 leads over the past three months to their merchants. They initially started out as a web-only service, but recently launched customer and merchant facing mobile apps to cater to a wider audience and allow people to book on the go.
They are currently marketing their startup through word of mouth and referrals. They monetize through a B2B model by charging their partners monthly subscription fees for availing their services. Nakul adds, “Our belief is that sports and fitness go hand in hand. Our USP is that we don’t just focus on fitness but also sports and brands. Our terms of engagement with Yuvraj Singh Academy of Excellence are still in trial phase, however Sehwag Academy has been a consistent paying customer. We were able to drive more high quality leads to them compared to the prevalent listing services like JustDial.”
The health and fitness sector in India is currently growing. With the government popularising Yoga, more people are becoming aware of the need to stay fit and healthy.
Started in 2013, Classpass has so far raised $54M across four rounds. It provides monthly membership to fitness studios, and lets users create work-out routines. In India, there is Fitness Papa, GymPik and Fitternity which recently raised $1M from Exfinity VP. Another recent entrant in this sector is Gymer, which allows people to book gym slots on demand on an hourly basis. Nakul also considers listing platforms such as Justdial to be in -direct competition.
Some notable startups and enterprises in the health and fitness sector are HealthifyMe, a calorie intake and fitness tracker, which raised funding from Micromax and a second round from angel investors. Truweight, which claims to help lose weight with Superfoods, raised Series A funding from Kalaari Capital in May 2015. Gaurav Jaswal and Gul Panag started MobieFit, and launched FirstRun, to guide people to take up running. Goqii, founded by Vishal Gondal, provides wearable fitness bands, paired with remote personalized coaching. They recently raised funding from Neeraj Arora of WhatsApp and Marco Argenti of Amazon.
Challenges faced and future plans
The team found that verifying the listings on their platform was a difficult task initially. They would generally need three to four visits to each center or facility to get all the desired information. Nakul says, added,
We needed to go through gatekeepers, reception, caretakers to finally meet the owners to verify the listing. In some cases we weren’t provided photographs or were not allowed to click them ourselves to avoid disturbing people who were using the facilities.
But the team found that most facilities were more forthcoming in their later visits, once they realized that they were getting leads and bookings through Playnlive. They also found that they need to follow a regular ‘cycle of cleansing’ to make sure that the data on their platform is up to date and relevant.
Playnlive had raised a small round through friends and family in February and are in the process of closing a larger round through angel investors. Their future plans include launching an iOS app and also what they call a ‘Tinder for sports’ feature on their mobile app, to allow people to connect and find playing partners for different sports.