Why Bengaluru-based healthtech startup Dipitr believes it has got your back with Strack
Long hours spent in front of the laptop, continuous work on the mobile phone, and evenings spent as a couch potato have led to a rise in posture-related ailments among professionals. Complications include back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders, and a pot belly.
A survey conducted in 2017 by QI Spine Clinic revealed that 20 percent of the Indian population in the 16-34 age group was treated for back and spine conditions.
Bengaluru-based healthtech and wellness startup Dipitr aims to solve this lifestyle problem and others like it. Launched by Amir Valani in 2018, the startup has launched Strack, a posture trainer and corrector wearable. Positioned as India's first smart 360-degree posture care solution, the wearable tracks and monitors your posture, alerting you every time you slouch with a gentle vibration.
In the beginning
Amir, CEO and Founder of Dipitr, said, “My dad also suffered from severe back pain and I lost him due to complications arising from that. Later, the neurosurgeon explained that my dad’s work style, especially his habit of sitting the entire day (8 am to 8 pm), took a toll on his health.”
“The doctor added: ‘what else do you expect from your dad’s spine when he was sitting 12 hours a day, without knowing how to sit properly or sitting continuously’,” he recalls.
That spurred Amir into entrepreneurial action. “It made me determined to find a solution to prevent back pain. Strack was born after extensive research.”
The core team
Amir hired his first set of people via a TiE conference and LinkedIn connections. “My story was powerful, and it was easy to bring them on board after they heard it. We have seven full-time and three part-time employees as of now,” he says.
Amir holds a MS in telecom from Southern Methodist University, US, and has done his post-graduation from IIM-Indore. A serial entrepreneur, he has numerous successful exits in his past. His 22+ years of experience in startups, product management, and marketing played a key role in the execution of Strack.
Krishna Narayanankutti, who leads the engineering division, has nine-plus years of experience with multiple startups. Naganand V, Hardware Lead, has over six years of experience working on IoT/wearable devices while Anurag Parihar, Head of Digital Marketing, has more than seven years of experience in building and growing a legal startup.
How does Strack work?
The small wearable can be worn on the upper back, and needs to be calibrated to your correct posture using the mobile app or by pressing the button twice. The device sends out a gentle vibration alert each time you slouch.
The team claims that 70 percent of users have “reduced their hourly slouch count by more than 50 percent within the first 30 days of using Strack”. The wearable can help users live a healthier life, with improved back health, heightened confidence, and increased productivity.
Strack is completely designed, developed, and manufactured in Bengaluru. Dipitr has signed up with a contract manufacturer to produce the device, which is priced at Rs 6,700 and available on Flipkart, Amazon, and the startup’s website.
Strack also offers solutions to corporates and workplaces where long desk hours are a given.
“We help corporate clients in assessing employees’ back health by providing various tools such as customised back health survey, awareness sessions related to back health and ergonomics, and wellness drives that focus on posture improvement,” Amir says.
“Our comprehensive wellness solution, focusing on employee back health, takes care of posture correction, training, tracking, and management, translating into a boost in productivity," he adds.
The challenges and growth
“I come from a purely software product management and marketing background. Getting the right people on board, those with in-depth expertise of building consumer hardware and related software, was a great challenge. But the fact that Bengaluru is India’s startup capital, networking, and LinkedIn helped,” Amir says.
The founder may have started Dipitr for a cause, but it turned into a huge venture along the way.
“We launched the product in the market about a year back and are seeing huge traction from two segments of people - people sitting more than six hours a day and those with back pain and posture-related problems.”
The startup claims to be growing between 15-20 percent month on month. However, the founder did not divulge further details. The company website sees traffic of around 8,000 per month.
Speaking about disrupting the market, Amir says, “We did not want to take traditional posture belts or braces, and rework them with better material or design. Instead, we decided to introduce India’s first smart posture trainer and corrector.”
The startup has partnered with more than 50 physiotherapists, including prominent names like Dr Dhanajeyan Jayavel and Dr Gopakumar, across Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi to recommend the Strack device to patients.
Funding and future plans
With successful exits in his past, Amir was able to put his own money into Dipitr.
“I also raised angel funding from friends and relatives. We won the Elevate competition and were awarded a grant for most innovative startup in the healthcare category by the Karnataka government,” he says.
According to IBEF, India's healthcare market is poised to reach $372 billion by 2022, driven by rising incomes, greater health awareness, lifestyle diseases, and increasing access to insurance.
The country is also the world's third largest market for wearable devices, after the US and China. According to IDC, the growth can be attributed to ear-worn wearables, which include wireless earphones that track health and fitness or enable smart assistants.
The founder is banking on this health and wellness thrust for the success of Strack and potential future offerings.
“Our mission is to become a market leader in ergonomics and posture tracking by 2022. We are planning a range of accessories and different variations of the Strack device to target different segments of people,” Amir says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)