Why this gate security officer-turned-corporate leader decided to start a fitness tech startup
The COVID-led lockdown confined people to their homes for months, affecting their mental and physical health. People turned to fitness apps and virtual trainers to stay fit in these trying times, leading to the launch of many fitness-centric offerings.
Vikas Singh, an ex-Goldman Sachs employee, in February 2021 launched, an integrated mobile-first platform for fitness and nutrition.
"We are democratising fitness for people. India loves to walk, which is extremely important for one’s cardiorespiratory and vascular health. The good health of heart and lungs are central to overall health, and we decided to bring nutrition, physical fitness and recovery on an integrated platform,” Vikas says.
Snapshot of Fitpage
The Mumbai-based fitness tech platform brings all the elements of good health - exercise, nutrition, personal hygiene, and more - on to one page.
“We centralise the entire ecosystem of nutrition, fitness, and recovery through walking, running, and the right nutrition. Everyone is different and needs a different plan that works to their abilities. Our cardio-respiratory assessment can be done on the app in less than 15 minutes. Basis the result, plans are instantly created – these progress and regress with your fitness,” he adds.
The early days
Vikas grew up in a small village, Sarai Sevak, in Uttar Pradesh, in a family of more than a dozen people. His early years were tough; each day depended on how much cow dung his family collected or the amount of crop they were able to barter.
"We lived in a mud house where all of us, including the animals at times, came together under heavy rains. We could not afford two square meals and my mother wanted us to study to emerge from the cycle of adversity. At the age of 13, I and my younger brother, who was 10 years old then, moved to Pratapgarh for secondary schooling,” he recalls.
The brothers stayed in a lodge for the next few years. “My brother used to cook and I used to study in the university and play various sports professionally. I learnt Hindi at the age of 16, and spoken English at the age of 22,” he says. His brother, Vivek Singh, grew up to be a police officer. He has since then quit and became an entrepreneur himself.
Vikas, who moved to Allahabad in 1999, graduated in Economics from the University of Allahabad in 2003.
Vikas says his mother was his biggest inspiration. She opened a small school 5km from their home, in a hut, to enable education for kids. She would carry her slippers in her bag after crossing the boundary of the village, and only wear them when she reached school to “avoid any wear and tear of the slippers”.
However, after graduation, all Vikas got was a job as a Security Officer at Reliance in Mumbai. It gave him enough money to run his household, but standing at the gate and checking IDcards wasn’t what he wanted to do. He wanted to do more and he learnt the basics of operating a computer and started learning English while at Reliance.
In 2007, he got an opportunity to work with Goldman Sachs, and this “changed everything”. The company not only mentored him until he left in 2017 but also supported him with a 100 percent scholarship to an MBA at Chicago Booth School between 2014 and 2016.
After Goldman Sachs, Vikas worked at APGlobale as a senior executive for three years before starting up Fitpage.
The birth of an entrepreneur
According to Statista, revenue in the fitness segment is projected to reach $2.15 billion in 2021. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2021-2024) of 2.68 percent, resulting in a projected market volume of $2.3 billion by 2024.
However, the fitness industry in India remains largely fragmented. Despite the emergence of brands like Cult, potential market opportunity., and , the organised industry has not even touched the
"Currently, group workouts, gym training, cross-fit, and yoga are popular. However, endurance sports does not have anyone’s attention as yet. Recreational walkers, runners, and cyclists account for most under these categories; they either participate in an event or perform any of these sports to keep fit,” Vikas says.
He adds that pre-COVID India witnessed between five running events every Sunday with large participation from recreational walkers and runners. “A large number of participants either end up getting injured or seek training from virtual platforms or coaches from outside India.”
Since the above target group takes up an endurance sport, mostly after they start working and do not have a prior experience of the sport, they lack a basic understanding of the demand of the sport.
What Fitpage does
Fitpage offers education, training, and nutrition through an integrated platform where these are highly personalised. Once you sign up with Fitpage you get a personal nutrition and fitness person, in the form of a digital assistant, who will then guide you through digitally on fitness goals and objectives based on your body type. It also provides mental health training. The AI uses data to guide the user.
More than 1,000 people are enrolled in the programme as of now; the programmes are priced at Rs 5,000 per month. The startup is currently available in website and mobile web mode; an app will be launched soon. It competes with CureFit, GoQii, and.
"We work with top exercise scientists, researchers, and content creators to maintain quality. The usage of our website will be subscription-based where we will charge for content, nutrition and training,” Vikas says. The company will individually assign experts to each person or client.
The company has raised Rs 26.5 crore in a seed round from Astra Ventures, a German family office this year.
The founder claims the fit-tech startup currently has resources and runway for the next 18 months, which will allow it to scale faster.
"People do not need fancy gyms or expensive diets to get fitter. They need education and motivation to be able to make informed decisions about their health. We are trying to do just that. No one personalises the fitness experience as we do,” Vikas says.