How Pune-based Fitato is whipping couch potatoes into shape in the crowded fitness marketSindhu Kashyaap
A single membership gives you access to a wide array of fitness studios and gyms across Pune, as well as a host of Fitato-owned social and community events.
Motivation is overrated, especially when it comes to achieving our fitness goals. For, how many of us, while biting into plum cake over Christmas break, promised ourselves that we will lose the fat and become fit, come 2019? Well, January rolled in, and after a week into signing up for the expensive annual package at the local gym, our Nikes gather dust in a corner.
For 25-year old Karan Murada, this attitude towards fitness was something he wanted to address. For him, fitness is a byproduct of a healthy and active lifestyle. But he also realised that as one got older, it is harder to pursue sports and other active pursuits regularly to stay healthy.
“This idea was driven home during an alumni meet when I met some of my basketball team members, and asked them why they were suddenly sporting a paunch, and they all chorused, ‘We don’t have time anymore’,” he says.
To help busy people who have not yet made fitness a natural part of their lives make a commitment to take care of themselves, Karan started Fitato in 2016 .
Fitness has no room for excuses
Karan explains that a single membership with Fitato can give one access to the best fitness studios and gyms across Pune, combined with a host of Fitato-owned social and community events. The goal is to address the real challenges of holistic fitness by providing a simple ‘one pass solution’ for all the activities that are needed to be physically, mentally and socially fit.
Roping in Aditya Srivastava, his friend from Symbiosis, who also had a similar passion for fitness, Karan formulated a plan to address the common excuses people have when they need to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Fitato’s ‘one pass to fitness’ model was built with the idea of giving patrons the choice to pursue the fitness regime most appealing to them.
A monthly pass costs Rs 2,199, while a bi-monthly and a quarterly pass will set you back Rs 3,899 and Rs 5,499, respectively.
Getting people moving
Karan notes that India doesn’t have an outdoorsy culture. When we were kids, we played badminton and gully cricket, but as we grew older priorities changed, and going out usually sharing a pitcher of beer with colleagues after work. Karan wants to get people outdoors again, for all the right reasons. While not pure outdoor sports and activities, but Fitato gives its customers a choice of different workouts like - Yoga, Zumba, Crossfit and functional training to name a few.
Fitato is not a new concept. There are several startups in the space that began with being the ‘Zomato of fitness centres’, providing patrons a buffet of fitness activities to choose from - Mumbai-based Fitternity, Gympik, Yuvraj Singh-backed Playnlive and Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra-backed Fitpass are all based on a similar model.
Karan, however, believes that a marketplace model for the fitness sector is not easy, as it takes a lot of solid partner relations, and customer delight to succeed. Karan and Aditya started on building relationships two years before they actually started up. Explaining the legwork they did, Karan says,
“Aditya and I personally visited, met with and on-boarded the first 150 partners in Pune. That itself took about six months. We sold our passes to the first 1000 customers - we’re still in touch with most of them. We’ve gone over multiple pricing structures, and experimented with our sales pitches, and we now have hyperlocal WhatsApp and Facebook groups and a self-sustaining community.”
Fitato has a $1 million revenue run rate this year. The team claims to be clocking an 80-percent growth each quarter for the past two years, and a 45-percent retention rate. The team claims to have over 5500 registered members.
The team had raised $120,000 in seed funding in late 2015. Fitato was also selected to be a part of the FB-Start programme in 2017, an initiative by Facebook for early-stage mobile startups.
The market for fitness companies is growing. According to a report by the Indian Retailer by the end of 2018, the market was $908 million and by 2022 it is expected to touch $1.3 billion.
Sequoia-seeded the Indian startup KFit offers unlimited access to gym and fitness classes in Malaysia, secured $12 million in a Series A round early this year. Playnlive, Fitternity, which raised $1 million in 2015, and Fitpass, which raised $1 million in late 2016, are also making inroads in the segment.
Currently, one of the most aggressive players in the field is Mukesh Bansal’s Curefit, which has acquired several centres like Cult, Tribe and 1000Yoga. The Cult.fit model combines functional training, with mixed martial arts, yoga and other formats of training.
Karan however believes Fitato’s customer-first approach is their biggest differentiator.
“With Fitato, the aim is to provide our users with an unrestricted access to fitness and build ways around it to help them stay motivated. For some, it could mean a gym partner, for others it could mean a group trek to the nearest hill or a game of soap football. Whatever fitness means to you, Fitato will be your side, your “happy hour” of the day,” he adds.