[The Turning Point] Why Mukesh Bansal, Ankit Nagori chose to focus on health with Cult.fit

The Turning Point is a series of short articles that focuses on the moment when an entrepreneur hit upon their winning idea. Today, we look at Cult.fit, which started in 2016, and is now a portfolio company of Tata Digital.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has made us more aware of our health care. Besides working out, people are now adopting a holistic approach to maintaining their well-being.

The Indian fitness and wellness market is growing at 20 percent per annum and is expected to touch $12 billion by 2025.

This is one of the biggest reasons why Cure.fit — with its range of fitness and wellness offerings — recently received $75 million from Tata Digital to help expand into a proactive health management space.

However, five years ago, when serial entrepreneurs Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori set out to build the health and fitness startup, there was hardly any player looking at all the healthcare aspects as a complete ecosystem.

In 2016, the duo set up Cure.fit, which rebranded itself into Cult.fit this year with Curefit Healthcare as the parent company.

From Flipkart to Cult.fit

Before launching Cult.fit — which has about 200 centres across India, and 500,000 active subscribers for its online services — Mukesh and Ankit worked at (Founder) Myntra and (Chief Business Officer) Flipkart, respectively.

The duo quit Flipkart in 2016 to get started on their second innings as entrepreneurs. Interestingly, healthcare wasn't on their drawing board since day one.

In an earlier conversation with YourStory, Ankit Nagori, Co-founder, Cult.fit, had said they (Mukesh and Ankit) had looked at different industries before zeroing in on health and wellness. And, the reason behind this was, five years ago, the sector was not disrupted by technology. 

Mukesh Bansal

The co-founders started looking at the pain points and found that generally, most people don't pay attention to their health in a proactive manner and visit doctors only when their problems become chronic.

This research also suggested that chronic and lifestyle diseases are among the top leading causes of deaths in India, which led Mukesh and Ankit to dig deeper and fill this gap with a more integrated and holistic approach. 

The seasoned entrepreneurs agreed that technology is the perfect solution to solve this problem, integrated on one platform or app.

By leveraging reverse engineering, the duo could look for a holistic pro-active solution by trusting some key data points, including body mass index (BMI), average hours of sleep per day, daily activity, and water consumption, among others.

Interestingly, the startup had raised enough capital from investors without an app. Earlier, Mukesh had said, “Cure.fit isn’t just about fitness. We are looking to build an entire healthcare ecosystem. It starts with fitness, then there is food, mental well-being, and prevention.” 

Sticking to vision

Initially, Cult.fit focussed on three specific areas — fitness (online and offline workout), diet, and mental wellness.

The fitness startup has come a long way. During the COVID-19 pandemic last year, when all of Cult.fit’s centres were shut down, it pivoted to online home workouts, mental health and well-being, and diagnostics (telemedicine). It separated its diet business Eat.fit into a separate entity.

Recently, it acquired TREAD — a Bengaluru-based connected fitness startup. The acquisition is the first step towards launching a suite of smart fitness hardware products, including TREAD smart bikes, bench, etc., Cult.fit said. It had earlier acquired California-based Onyx and Bengaluru-headquartered Fitternity.

Now, the soonicorn is eyeing 100 million subscribers to serve the demand of at-home workouts.

Edited by Suman Singh

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