The startup that initially received 52 rejections from angel investors just got acquired


Amazon-backed home services provider, Housejoy, announced that it has acquired Orobind, an 'at-home' personal fitness tech startup for an undisclosed amount. This is Housejoy's second acquisition after raising INR 150 crores from Amazon. Earlier this month it had acquired on-demand laundry startup MyWash. Orobind claims to be serving more than 1,000 customers in Bengaluru with around 135 active personal trainers on the platform.

Story so far

Bengaluru-based Orobind was founded by IIT-Roorke graduates, Satya Vyas and Shubhanshu Srivastava, in December 2014. In 2012, they conceptualised the idea and registered for it under a different domain name. Their 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 and go ahead with their startup plans.

Orobind was officially incorporated in June 2014 and started from Satya’s 140 sq.ft apartment which was converted into an office. At that stage the startup received seed funding from Lalit Mangal, Co-founder of Commonfloor, and Sameer Mehta, an entrepreneur from ISB Hyderabad, and a few senior engineers from Microsoft and TransOcean.

Orobind is also one of YourStory's MobileSparks 2014 companies and it raised angel funding from Ramakant Sharma, Harpreet Singh Grover, Lalit Mangal and Zishaan Hayath three months post their launch at MobileSparks. Orobind had a few near death experiences and was close to going bankrupt at least two times according to Satya. To add to the difficulties, the team faced about 52 rejections from angels and funds before they finally got a 'yes' and raised angel funding.

Related read: ‘I was turned down by more than 52 angels and funds’: the story behind Orobind’s funding

Fast forward to present, as a mobile marketplace of fitness coaches Orobind assigns experts based on the user’s location, preferred workout time, and preferred workout days. By connecting people to trusted personal coaches through their app, they aimed to help people achieve their health goals and create healthier communities. Satya confirmed that while the fitness sector is not yet mature as western markets, it is picking up interest in India now. Currently their largest customer base is women in the age group of 25-45 who prefer to hire a trainer rather than visit a gym.

Satya considers the acquisition to be a proud moment for everyone at Orobind, as they built this company from scratch and were able to take it to the next level and get validation from Housejoy. He said,

Fitness and wellness is a highly lucrative category for most of the home services players primarily because of high repeat rates and high customer lifetime value but to leverage it one must have a highly differentiated product experience and a tech enabled engagement platform. The transaction is a win-win for both the parties. For Orobind it gives us an opportunity to be a part of a larger 'at- home' services play and build a large wellness category.

Housejoy was founded in January 2015 by Sunil Goel and Arjun Kumar, both veterans in the services industry. As a part of the deal, HouseJoy has acquired the trainers of Orobind and its customer base. The entire Orobind team too will also be moving to Housejoy. [Update: Satya clarified that Orobind's technology was not a part of this acquisition.]. Saran Chatterjee, CEO at Housejoy, believes in Orobind's technical strength and team. He said,

With this acquisition we are looking to create a differentiated lifestyle experience for our customers across beauty, fitness and wellness categories. We feel that by leveraging Orobind's customers set, underlying technology and the domain expertise, Housejoy can expedite the process of becoming the leader in the Wellness category. 

Sector overview

Smartphones have gained rapid adoption in India and is changing the face of multiple industries. The number of mobile internet users in India are expected to cross 371 million by June 2016, according to a recent report released by IAMAI. The taxi market in India is quite mature with Uber and Ola having gained mass appeal. This in turn has paved way for the home services market, as users are already comfortable making transactions on smartphones now.

The local and home services market in India has an estimated market size of about $50 billion and growing. With an estimated 5,000 transactions a day and backing from investors Bessemer, SAIF, Accel Partners and Ratan Tata, UrbanClap is doing quite well. Other startups operating in the same segment are DoormintLocalOye, Zimmber, Taskbob, UrbanPro, TimeSaverzMr. Right and TheMakeoverz. Listing portals such as JustDial, Sulekha, YellowPages,; and providers such as Jack on Block, Hammer and Mop (which recently merged with Mr. Homecare) also operate in the same segment indirectly.

LocalOye had raised $5 million from Tiger Global and Lightspeed Venture Partners in April 2015. Taskbob recently acquired Zepper and had earlier raised $1.2 million funding from Orios, Mayfield and others, Doormint raised $3 million  led by Helion Ventures and Kalaari Capital in August 2015, while Timesaverz had raised an angel investment in October 2014.

There are many players that are helping Indians stay fit and shed those excess pounds. Virtual fitness coaching platform GOQii had raised $13.4 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Cheetah Mobile Inc in November 2015. Micromax-backed Healthifyme is going after the preventive healthcare sector with its digital weight loss solution. Then there are players like Exfinity VP backed FitternityGympik, Gymer, Hobbyix and Oyofit in this sector.

Related read: Made in India fitness apps to keep you in the pink of health

YourStory take

Their near death experiences seem to have made Orobind stronger and the startup has been able to find product-market fit and achieve sufficient growth and repeat business that brought them under Housejoy's radar. With the fitness market not yet mature in India, an acquisition was Orobind's best end game scenario and it now gives them bandwidth to focus more on their product without worrying much about possible short term mistakes that may come their way while experimenting. Housejoy, on the other hand, gets access to a skilled team that has proven their mettle.



Updates from around the world