Wearable tech startup Soulfit’s Sonic fitness band doubles up as a Bluetooth headset that lets you receive calls, email alerts, WhatsApp, and social media notifications.
If you multitask, why wouldn’t you expect people – and the things – around you to?
Enter Mumbai-based Soulfit, which makes over the traditional fitness tracker into a multifunctional, all-day wearable.
The Sonic health band packs in much more than any other tracker resting on your wrist - apart from the inbuilt blood pressure monitor, step counter, heart rate monitor, phone tracking, and sleep monitor, it doubles up as a Bluetooth earpiece to take calls on the move, lets you listen to music, and also acts as a remote control to take photos using a paired smartphone.
Could any wearable be “stickier”?
The Co-founders of Soulfit, Ishwar Kumhar and Nikita Kumawat, ran a corporate gifting company and realised fitness bands were heavily in demand. But, most of what was gifted was “unbranded stuff from China”, and buyers were not content with the product they received “at that price point”.
So, the husband-wife duo contemplated developing a homegrown fitness tracker that could find the right mix between style and utility, and become an “acceptable” proposition for corporates (incidentally, Soulfit’s biggest clientele now).
In September 2017, they were joined by Karan Gour, a techie-entrepreneur who’d founded and shut a B2B startup. Karan became one of the founding members of Soulfit, and aided the development and launch of its first product, Soulfit Sonic.
“We launched the product in January 2018 at a medical expo in Mumbai where doctors were our main buyers. We wanted to establish the fact that our fitness band was as accurate as other medical devices,” Karan, who’s also Soulfit’s Chief Brand Strategist, tells YourStory. “The feedback we received was amazing,” he adds.
Shortly after, Soulfit started selling directly through its website as well as on Amazon.in. The startup has an exclusive partnership with Amazon India and is also a part of its ‘Select’ programme for brands. As part of the initiative, Amazon helps them get access to a range of brand-building tools and services.
How the numbers stack up
In less than a year, Soulfit clocks 2,500-3,000 units in monthly sales, most of which are on Amazon.in, where the product is heavily discounted. While the Sonic V08’s MRP is Rs 15,999, Amazon makes it available at Rs 9,999.
“We are discounting the product because we want to increase acceptance. That is the biggest challenge in this category for an Indian brand. The customer mindset is to spend on non-Indian brands even if the Indian brand is offering similar features.”
Soulfit aims to reach 10,000 units in monthly sales by the end of 2018. For that, it is undertaking various brand-building and marketing activities. There is also a second product in line, priced more affordably at Rs 4,500.
Soulfit Amaze will go on sale in two weeks, and will retail on Amazon at about Rs 3,900. “The purpose is to make the gadget available for all at different price points and establish Soulfit as a brand,” Karan says.
The founders reveal that Soulfit has broken even and is ploughing profits back into the business. (They refuse to share specific numbers though.)
What makes Soulfit Sonic different
The Sonic V08 resembles any other fitness tracker at first glance. However, its biggest differentiator is the inbuilt Bluetooth earpiece that allows users to answer calls on the move as well as listen to music.
“Most fitness bands are not sticky enough. But a fitness band that lets you answer calls ensures that the device sticks to your body longer. The call feature has helped us increase acceptance of the product.”
There is also the option to receive WhatsApp, email, and other social media notifications. It is unlike what most fitness bands at this price point offer, making Soulfit more like a smartwatch than a conventional health tracker.
It, of course, also monitors body data including steps walked, distance travelled, calories burnt, quality of sleep, and resting and passive heart rate. Here too, Soulfit takes its offering a notch up by tracking blood pressure.
All data can be accessed by users on the companion H Band 2.0 app on iOS and Android. So far, the app has recorded over 500,000 installs on Google Play.
The future of wearables
Statista estimates that 929 million units of wearable devices would be shipped globally by 2021. These include smartwatches, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers, holistic health monitoring devices, and more.
A Gartner report says that by 2021, about 10 percent of wearable users will have changed lifestyles, and extended life spans. “Even a basic wearable device could have a positive impact on the wearer’s health,” it states.
Clearly, Soulfit is in the right place, at the right time, and – more importantly – at the right price.
Scaling up and the path ahead
Soulfit bands are currently assembled in China. The R&D work also takes place there. Many components, including the chips and heart sensors, are imported from Germany and other countries. The startup, however, plans to ‘Make in India’ soon.
“It might take a year but we want to set up a plant in India mainly to reduce taxation on imports. We also plan to have 5-6 products in the portfolio, and are looking at ways to develop the market.”
The bootstrapped startup will look at funding sometime in 2019. The team has 15 members, mostly employed in engineering and marketing divisions. “We are participating in a lot of startup events and were at IIT Delhi recently,” Karan says.
When you ask about the competition, Soulfit is candid enough to name Fitbit, Garmin, and “even GOQii”, which is more than just a fitness band.
“At some point in the future, we would also like to create a health ecosystem like GOQii has,” Karan reveals.
But, all that can happen only after the brand has been “accepted” far and wide.
Founder-CEO Ishwar, who lets Karan do most of the heavy lifting, told the media, “SoulFit is a full-fledged one-stop solution to all technology requirements and we are moving towards establishing the company as a smart gadget brand.”