How this Hyderabad-based startup is bringing holistic approach to fitness with tech, equipment, and content streaming

Portl is a fitness startup that works on a subscription-based model by offering equipment, proprietary networked software, AI-powered feedback systems, and digital fitness and wellness content streaming.
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Indraneel Gupta and Vishal Chandapeta come with a good entrepreneurial experience, having previously run a 3D body scanning company that built comprehensive applications for the fitness industry, particularly helping fitness chains across the globe manage their clients.

“As founders, we already had a deep understanding of the fitness space and had an eye on consumer trends, and knew that the evolving needs of consumers remained unaddressed. As opposed to the B2B service we’d run previously, we focused our attention on the consumers’ needs. That’s Portl was formed in 2021 out of Hyderabad,” Indraneel tells YourStory

He explains that even before COVID-19, they had already been seeing a gradual consumer shift when it comes to digital transformation, which was accelerated due to the pandemic. 

Indraneel adds that they started up because founders strongly believe India’s fitness is going to transition from traditional fitness, such as gyms and workout classes, to connected home fitness in the post-pandemic world. 

“Technology is going to play a large role in the way the Indian consumer stays fit and healthy – from tracking progress, monitoring vitals, engaging with a fitness community, and even receiving personalised feedback and training,” says Indraneel. 

What does the startup do?

According to Indraneel, the majority of fitness enthusiasts in India work out from home, and several more are adopting this trend post the pandemic. 

However, there are several problems related to working out from homes such as lack of space, personalisation, lack of access to quality training, and adherence to routines. 

Portl combines fitness, technology, and media and works on a subscription-based model to assist home workouts. The startup did not disclose the cost of the subscription. The startup offers fitness equipment, proprietary networked software, AI-powered feedback systems, and digital fitness and wellness content streaming.

The Portl Intelligent Home Fitness and Health Mirror claims to provide holistic health and wellness solutions on-demand from the comfort of home. 

It uses its proprietary AI-driven Smart Mirror technology to address these issues. The platform uses an integrated proprietary digital weight system (for resistance-based activities), and an AI-driven mirror that provides immersive on-demand and live classes with experienced instructors, while intelligently providing real-time form correction and posture analysis. 

The workings 

The device occupies just 2.5 feet of floor space and also comes equipped with bio-sensors to provide accurate health monitoring and telehealth solutions.

“With our unique Smart Mirror infrastructure, combined with digital weights and bio-sensors, Portl is a fully-integrated, multi-functional, smart fitness and health system. By imbibing a members-first philosophy, we are building a vertically integrated platform that ensures a best-in-class, end-to-end experience. We have a hybrid retail and direct-to-consumer multi-channel sales model, a hassle-free delivery service, along with customer support to create an engaging and enjoyable experience for consumers,” explains Indraneel. 

The technology platform enables personalised solutions at a granular level using scientific framework and methodologies. 

Product 

Currently, Portl has a team of 25 people working across multiple domains of product engineering, fitness and wellness, content, and hardware.

“While we haven’t officially announced a pre-order for the wider market yet, we’ve already garnered hundreds of pre-orders primarily from the initial beta users and word of mouth. This gave us tremendous confidence that Portl is addressing the key pain points of the consumer. We opened our pre-orders for the wider consumer segment in September 2021 and will be fulfilling the orders soon. We are also establishing Portl Experience Centres, so interested consumers can experience the product first-hand,” adds Indraneel. 

Portl presently has two products – Portl Studio Basic and Portl Pro. 

The Portl Studio Basic is a Smart Mirror for streaming live and on-demand workouts, as well as individual coaching from personal trainers which leans toward cardio and group fitness. It is designed to engage users using a wide variety of workout formats such as HIIT, strength, endurance, yoga etc. 

Portl Pro is a strength-focused, high-tech cable machine with a digital weight system embedded within the Smart Mirror. It provides resistance of up to 100 kg and facilitates a wide variety of strength and conditioning movements. It also provides all the other features of the Portl Studio Basic.

The startup says both devices are capable of real-time form tracking and bio-sensors facilitate health monitoring and digital health services through the Portl platform. The platform also provides a wide array of nutrition and lifestyle management resources, videos etc, to guide our users at every stage of their journey. 

Market and future 

While the team refused to share the costs and the revenue details, Indraneel explains, 

“The business is a combination of hardware, software, and content media services. We focus more on the subscription and user retention than on hardware margins, which also requires us to constantly enhance and innovate in terms of fitness and wellness programming, immersive live classes, and the overall user experience. We are developing a variety of engaging social features that enable our users to look forward to something new and exciting every month.” 

The startup has raised undisclosed funding led by Kalaari Capital

Since April 2020, sales of home gym equipment have jumped nearly 50-60 percent as people took to working out at home more than going to gyms, according to a report by Orion Market Research. The global home fitness equipment market is expected to grow from $10.73 billion in 2021, to $14.74 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 4.6 percent, buoyed by the launch of smart workout equipment such as bikes and treadmills, a Fortune Business Insights report said.

Other fitness startups working in the space include, Fittr, Cure.fit, Peloton, Zippy, and others. 

"We plan on bringing Portl into the homes of every family, therefore, our focus is to get experience centres established in the metros initially, and gradually expand into other regions. We are scheduled to open our official pre-order batch in September this year,” adds Indraneel. 

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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