IIT Delhi alumni, including Ironman athlete, look to make fitness more social for runners and cyclists
Running and cycling are two activities that require comparatively lesser monetary investments – a pair of good running shoes, safety gear, and a cycle, compared with other outdoors activities. But one of the possible reasons people don’t follow through with their training schedules is lack of moral support. Having like-minded, determined people by your side makes a lot of difference. So to make the experience more social, provide relevant advice and training from experts, FITSO was born.
What is it?
FITSO, short for ‘Fitness Social’, helps users discover and connect with potential running and cycling partners, activities, trainers, and service professionals in their area. The aim is to promote a healthier lifestyle through group activities. Through the app, users can check details about activities, events, and participate in them by tapping ‘Join’.
Apart from connecting with other fitness enthusiasts, users can also read profile details such as qualifications, experience, achievements and charges of coaches, yoga trainers, physiotherapists, dietitians, fitness trainers, and masseurs and book sessions with them. FITSO is currently live in Delhi NCR, India, and plans to expand to other cities soon.
Activities: Users can find details about running and cycling activities such as timing, venue, and their difficulty level. If interested, users can ‘join’ the activity and connect with running or cycling partners and get relevant updates.
Events: Users can discover upcoming events happening in their city with details such as venue, charges, and type of event. They can also track the event people in their network are going to and register for them.
Trainers: Users can avail personalised, one-on-one training sessions with trainers of their choice. They can also request training for specific activities such as marathons, ultra-marathons, Ironman and other running, cycling, and swimming events.
Other services: Apart from coaches, users can also search for qualified professionals for yoga, fitness, physiotherapy, massage, and nutrition. To help them make their decision, users can browse through profile details such as qualifications, experience, achievements and charges, and book a session as per the trainers availability.
In-app content(Posts): The app also features content related to categories such as diet, fitness, and running written by industry experts. There is also an option for readers to message authors directly in case they have questions.
Story so far
FITSOs founding team consists of Saurabh Aggarwal, Naman Sharma, and Rahool Sureka, all IIT Delhi graduates. Naman worked at Zomato for four years before taking up the role of Technology and Product Head at FITSO. Rahul worked at Yepme and UrbanClap and is now the startup’s Marketing and Strategy Head. Saurabh worked at Flipkart in Business Development before quitting to pursue his passion for adventure sports.
Saurabh went on to finish the Full Ironman event(Watch video here) in August 2014 and attempted to climb Mount Everest in April 2015. Unfortunately, the expedition got cancelled because of the earthquake in Nepal. He then went on to finish, ‘La Ultra’, a 111 km run that is considered to be the cruellest ultramarathon in the world.
So after his first-hand experience and success in this sector, he wished to share his learnings with others who aim to lead fitter lives, participate in marathons. He also looks after Business Development and Finance at FITSO. So, along with his friends they initially launched Jogo, to help and promote group fitness activities. But a few weeks into their launch they decided to rebrand Jogo to FITSO. Saurabh explained,
Jogo is a Portuguese word which literally means ‘game’. As a result, the Google Play Store considered it as a category and thus displayed all mobile games in the search results. As a result our app was difficult to discover. Because of this technical issue we rebranded Jogo as FITSO (Fitness Social).
Apart from the three founders, the team consists of Ajitesh Abhishek and Kaushal Mishra. Ajitesh worked with KPMG as an Associate Consultant before joining FITSO to look after analytics. On the other hand, Kaushal worked with Allyzone Softech and is now the startup’s Design head.
FITSO plans to monetise and generate revenue through multiple avenues. They serve as a platform to help trainers and other professionals gain visibility and bookings. While the service is free currently, they plan to charge trainers a fee for every booking they receive on the platform. The other avenue is through native advertising in the featured section on their platform and sponsored content.
Sector overview and future plans
The health and fitness sector is gaining a lot of traction in India. There is now more mainstream awareness about the need and benefits of being fit and healthy. There are also many cost-effective technology innovations and solutions, such as fitness trackers and calorie counters, which help people monitor their fitness levels. My fitness pal and Micromax backed Healthifyme are popular calorie counters in the market now. Coming to running, Gourav Jaswal and Gul Panag launched ‘First Run’, a running coach app, earlier this year to help users train for marathons.
FITSO is currently bootstrapped and is in talks to raise an external funding round in the near future to aid their expansion plans. With their next update, they plan to include payment integrations to make it easier for users and coaches to send and receive money. Regarding their long-term vision, Saurabh added,
We have started out with a focus on running and cycling, but going forward we plan to include all kinds of fitness activities that happen in groups.
FITSO is a well thought out and executed app in terms of app layout and design, functionality and content. The app is intuitive and easy to use and lives up to its promise as a network for fitness enthusiasts and experts. The in-app ‘Leader board’ is an excellent feature to promote healthy competition among users and also increase the stickiness of the app.
The app also categorises activities based on their difficult levels into novice, intermediate, advanced, elite, and master levels. This makes it easier for users to ensure that they are signing up for something that they can handle and are training with the right support group. Adding a ‘filter’ option under the ‘Activities’ tab in the app to let users see only the difficulty category of their choice would be a useful feature.
Another feature that could add to the appeal and be a source of revenue is a recommendation section. After evaluating a user’s fitness goals and current physical state FITSO could recommend relevant products such as shoes or nutrition supplements that users could buy online. Saurabh added that they are considering this option in the future iterations of the app.
With an experienced team that has both the technical expertise and first-hand experience and know-how related to fitness, it will be interesting to see how FITSO grows their fitness social network and also scales to other cities.