[Startup Bharat] How fitness-focused Fitelo is helping people achieve a healthy lifestyle with its AI-enabled platform
Obesity is a global problem. However, its prevalence in India is growing faster than the world average. According to a 2021 study funded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, around 40 percent of Indians are overweight.
To address this problem, and help people lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle,was launched in April 2019. The Chandigarh-based startup comes with an app that is aimed at helping its clients develop healthy habits. It operates on a subscription-based model and assigns customers a health coach who is aligned to their needs.
The entire client journey is managed by Fitelo’s AI-enabled platform, which enables a high level of customisation.
“Powered by our platform, we work on modifying the lifestyle of an individual, step by step. We work on creating healthy habits so they get fit and can stay fit in the easiest possible way,” Sahil Bansal, Co-founder, Fitelo tells YourStory.
How it works
When the customer downloads the Fitelo app, available for Android and iOS, and signs in by filling in basic details, they have to choose the desired package.
“We work in the ‘Weight Management’ and ‘Disease Management’ category. While a majority of our clients come to us for weight loss, we also help them manage conditions such as diabetes, thyroid, PCOD, and hypertension,” he explains.
The Weight Management package starts at Rs 3,000 a month, with the annual subscription costing up to 25,000. Meanwhile, the Disease Management package starts at Rs 7,000 a month and goes up to Rs 50,000 for the yearly subscription.
A personal coach is then assigned who performs a complete analysis of the body nutrition and customer needs in an online diet counselling session. The analysis is used by Fitelo’s team of dietitians, doctors, and trainers to create customised nutrition and lifestyle modification plan for the customer.
“We have 50+ dietitians in our team. They handle 70-90 clients on a given day. Other than receiving a fixed monthly payment, they also get performance-based incentives. The overall salary of the team as a percentage of revenue is about 20 percent,” Sahil adds.
Customers can update and track progress in the app daily, including metrics such as diet, body measurements, activity, and water intake. The Fitelo team also conducts regular counselling sessions as per the customer’s package to ensure that the overall nutrition and holistic fitness is intact while losing weight.
According to Sahil, “Our programme doesn't require any gym or fitness equipment. There are no fad diets and we don't recommend or use any supplements/medicines. We don’t even ask our users to count calories or weigh their food. With our AI-enabled platform, we help our clients gain a better understanding of their habits and improve their nutrition and lifestyles.”
The co-founder says that whenever people try weight loss products/services that promise instant results, they often end up regaining the weight after a few months. “We work on building these healthy habits. It is the only sustainable and long-lasting way to lose weight, stay fit, and avoid diseases,” he quips.
The startup is also active on social media where it spreads awareness about fitness and health.
“We are also making concerted efforts to promote what’s lacking in the fitness industry and busting the myths associated with fitness, nutrition, and the proclaimed health products. Fitelo also propagates practical and easily implementable tips to stay fit while staying at home and also shares easy to prepare healthy recipes,” Sahil adds.
The founders Mehakdeep (Mac) Singh and Sahil are childhood friends. Obese since childhood, they tried every possible weight loss solution, only to realise that none of them was sustainable and they would end up regaining their weight.
In 2008, Sahil moved to Pune to start his corporate career and Mehakdeep stayed back to pursue his MBA. After completing his MBA in 2011, Mehakdeep joined an auto company. In 2014, he met with an accident that left him bedridden for months, and ended up gaining a lot of weight.
Frustrated, he quit his job and pursued MSc in fitness and nutrition from Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi. He lost 60 kgs when he switched to consuming natural foods. So, he decided to dive deep into fitness and focused on building a CRM platform for fitness coaches from 2016-19.
Sahil pursued an MBA in 2010 from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar and developed a keen interest in psychology. As part of the MBA he took psychology and marketing courses. He worked at companies including Infosys, Reuters, HCL, and Genpact, as well as attempted to build an edtech startup. Most of his work involved creating habit-forming models using technology, which he presented at international conferences.
In the process, Sahil realised fitness was also about habit building. He inculcate good habits and was able to lose 30 kgs sustainably.
When Mehakdeep and Sahil reconnected in 2019, they agreed that long-term fitness can be only achieved by building habits and lifestyle modification.
“We decided to take this concept to the masses. In April 2019, Fitelo as a brand was born, a platform to help other people in losing weight and have an overall healthier lifestyle,” Sahil says.
Currently, Fitelo has a team of 90 members.
“We started with Rs 1-2 lakh per head as an initial investment. We have been profitable since the first month,” Sahil adds.
Funding and the way ahead
According to a report by RBSA Advisors, the Indian healthtech market is growing at a rapid pace and is expected to reach $50 billion by 2033.
Bootstrapped, Fitelo claims to have grown every quarter since its inception. The startup claims its content reaches 50 lakh people every month.
“We plan to close FY22 at Rs 9-10 crore in revenue. As we plan to scale and touch 10 million lives in the next three years, we plan to partner with strategic investors this year,” says Sahil.
Globally, it competes with the likes of Noom while domestically its competitors are HealthifyMe, Cure.fit, Fittr, and Possible, among others.
Since its inception, Fitelo has served 15,000+ clients. Its clients include children in the age group of eight to 10 years, as well as senior citizens. While a majority of its clients are from India, the startup has started seeing traction from Indians who have settled abroad, primarily in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
In the next five years, the startup aims to be the one-stop solution for people planning to embrace the sustainable and natural fitness route.
“Today, the need for dietary interventions starts in childhood itself. With our lifestyle, consumption of hyper-processed foods, and polluted environment, people of all ages are developing deficiencies and diseases in their bodies,” Sahil says.
“Our programme is designed to fit the lifestyle of the individual. We customise it based on not just their age, but also their body needs, goals, lifestyle, diseases, family history, stress and activity levels, etc,” he adds.