Health startup 23BMI can help you lose weight, stay healthy without hitting the gym
Kuonal Lakhapati loved the fast-paced life that came with working at logistics startup LogiNext. But working with a rapidly growing company meant sleepless nights, stress, and demanding deadlines, which meant unhealthy food habits and no time for exercise. It was no surprise that Kuonal put on extra weight.
In a bid to get fit, Kuonal enlisted his wife and nutrition expert, Aayushi Lakhapati’s help. At the time, she was toying with the idea of using meal replacement products as a way to become more healthy and strong.
“I told Aayushi I wanted to lose weight but could not hit the gym due to lack of time. I also told her to guide me because I had no knowledge about nutrition, and could not carry home-cooked food with me as I was always be on the go,” Kuonal says.
Aayushi decided to make some nutritious food samples for her husband to try, and within 28 days, Kuonal lost 10 kg.
That is when the both of them realised they had stumbled upon a revolutionary idea that could help people lose weight by simply eating nutritious food. They founded a meal replacement products company, 23BMI, in Mumbai.
What 23BMI does
23BMI primarily retails food products that replace the main meals of the day. These products are customisable/can be modified according to a person’s specific dietary requirements.
The products have been conceptualised and developed by Aayushi, a certified fat loss expert who belongs to a family of first-generation entrepreneurs. Her interest in health and fitness led her to join the India business of Dr Howards Way, a UK-based healthcare venture.
A postgraduate in internal business from Kingston University, London, and a certificate holder in food and nutrition from Mumbai University, Aayushi is responsible for new product developments and client relationships at 23BMI. She also comes up with new, innovative solutions for her company's rapidly increasing client base.
Apart from making meal replacement products, 23BMI has a community of nutritionists on its platform who curate different lines of meal replacement products and engage with clients on the company's online platform.
Challenges along the way
One of the main challenges the company faced while setting up was developing the product – from identifying trustworthy manufacturing partners and conducting human trials, to obtaining necessary certifications before the launch.
“A lot of product-based companies can actually start operations in the conceptual stage, without a fully developed, or with just a partially developed product. However, that is not possible in the consumer healthcare space,” Kuonal says.
The startup also found that not everyone is open to trying new consumable health products, unless they are recommended.
"We had to choose the right marketing channel to reach out to a larger audience to overcome the challenge of scaling up faster in a B2C environment. Fortunately, we were lucky to identify the right partners who helped us speed up the product development phase, and launch the product,” Kuonal, says.
The company instated several feedback channels to keep perfecting the product line, and established a robust, 24/7 communication network between health coaches and clients to support continuous supervision.
Making the products
23BMI creates all its 100 percent organic products in-house.
Apart from general weight loss, the meal plans target a host of health issues such as PCOD/PCOS, diabetes, thyroid imbalance, and other lifestyle conditions that arise from not eating well or leading stressful lives.
The company outsources manufacturing, production, and order-taking to distributors across the country. Aayushi and Kounal design and prepare new meal replacement products themselves.
Eat your way to fitness
When regularly consumed, 23BMI’s meal replacement smoothies coax the human body into a dietary ketosis state, which is where the body starts to burn stored fat to produce energy.
On an average, the entire process can help a person lose up to eight kilograms a month, and is done under the careful guidance of the company’s health coaches.
“We have successfully helped 200-plus clients lose weight without going to the gym, reversed type II diabetes and PCOD, and drastically reduced thyroid concerns,” the company claims.
23BMI’s weight loss plan has a few variations depending on the goal weight, and the number of days one wants to consume the meal replacement products for. The weight management package costs between Rs 15,000 and Rs 45,000, depending on the number of meals and the duration of the programme.
Market and the future
The wellness industry is expected to hit Rs 1.5 lakh crore by the end of 2020, and grow at a CAGR of 12 percent over the next five years, according to estimates by FICCI and EY.
The expected growth will likely be driven by an increase in disposable incomes and the alarming rise in lifestyle-related diseases, the research added.
Those statistics are encouraging for a bootstrapped company like 23BMI, which has seen nearly 20 percent growth since inception in 2018, on a monthly basis. It clocked revenue of Rs 75 lakh in the current financial year, after investing close to Rs 20 lakh, initially.
The company’s main competitors include startups like Prameya Health, AyurUniverse, and few others who use supplements in their health management programmes.
23BMI is now looking to "increase its tech capabilities to engage with customers more intimately".
Edited by Aparajita Saxena