This digital platform believes the pursuit of wellness is important to Thriive in the modern world
Pinky Daga - Founder & CEO - Thriive Art & Soul
Stress, strain, pressure, anxiety…modern life brings these along each and every day, making mental health and wellness critical. Wellness therapies help you take care of your mind like you take care of your body.
And now, you can do it online with Pinky Daga’s Thriive Art & Soul. The Mumbai-based global digital wellness platform showcases and registers a verified network of over 500 therapists offering more than 160 alternative health therapies.
Pinky was brought up in a traditional Gujarati joint family while her parents were in the US. At 16, she moved to the US for the long term: finishing high school, starting her college education at Boston University, winning a coveted year-long internship at the London Times, followed by a stint as an associate editor at the NYC offices of Haymarket Media Group. She has a PhD in English Literature and a master’s degree in journalism with a minor in theatre.
Eighteen years ago, Pinky decided to move back to India and hasn’t looked back since.
Downtime job turns entrepreneurial opportunity
“From 2005 to 2016, I ran Indigo Kids Edutainment, a children’s entertainment company that specialised in producing children’s theatre. I wrote and directed over seven annual productions that toured nationally. However, spirituality and the pursuit of wellness on all fronts was always an undercurrent in my life,” she tells HerStory.
“When the world of organic, wholesome children’s entertainment began to face stiff competition from the mind-numbing world of digital entertainment, it was time to move on and grow. The more I relaxed and tuned into the conversations around me, I realised that alternative health was really on everyone’s minds,” Pinky recalls. “Since everyone already associated me with that space, wherever I went I was asked for alternative suggestions and solutions to a myriad of physical, mental, and emotional issues. It almost became my ‘downtime’ job,” she adds.
She found that people were looking for a more “integrative” lifestyle approach where everything - from nutrition and fitness to health and allopathic medicine – was blended into just the right mixture to alleviate all kinds of issues.
With this aim in mind, Pinky started Thriive Art & Soul in January 2017, with a team of two other people: a content editor, and a resourceful life coach/healer, who was well versed in all things alternative and who shared her passion for the wellness/soul space. In two years, the team has grown to 13 people.
For a customer, booking a service on Thriive is a simple “two-step process”. On the basis of a therapist’s historical data, the backend is able to profile what the particular therapist is good at, and what s/he needs to improve on. This helps Thriive provide the right therapist to the people who sign up.
The onboarding of a therapist is done via a detailed registration process where they need to fill in personal details, therapies they practice, experience, fees, preferred communication mode, website, and social media details. A Therapist Relationship Management team personally looks into verification and registration of each therapist.
Thriive has more than 500-plus verified therapists on board, including Mark Karlsson from Iceland, who is the founder and director of The Merlin Trinity Healing System; Ilona Selke (USA, a best-selling author and an accomplished life coach and manifestation master; Smita Jayakar, a well-known actress and an equally renowned healer; Sunaina Rekhi, a yoga practitioner; and many others.
A centre of wellness and healing
Thriive Art & Soul’s main wellness centre is the Pyramid Valley International (PVI) in Bengaluru.
Pinky says, “Originally started in 2006 by Shreans (her husband) and I, it houses one of Asia’s most powerful meditational pyramids, rising high above the lush green valley. It is also home to the Global Festival of Spiritual Sciences (GFSS), India’s largest wellness festival, since 2008. GFSS has hosted some of the world’s leading spiritual/inspirational speakers like Dr Fred Alan Wolf aka Dr Quantum, Dr Amit Goswami (US), Dr Raymond Moody (US), Anodea Judith (US), Dolores Cannon (US), Kaya and Christiane Muller (Canada), Robert Schwartz (US), among many others, creating a strong global community.”
PVI is being run by a non-profit trust for the past 13 years. Currently, Thriive Art & Soul has taken over an entire section and converted it into a wellness retreat with 71 Zen-style rooms, a satvik cafe, and Aya Soul Spaces, a full-fledged wellness diagnostic and treatment space that is under construction. Aya will focus on offering the best combination of ancient practices blended with cutting-edge Western innovation to “help transform each being on an emotional, mental, physical, and soul level”.
Thriive also facilitates real community building by conducting the Global Festival of Spiritual Sciences (GFSS) every year. It features global presenters who are changing the world with their work, mind, and body-flexing experiential Tai Chi & Yoga; Art & Soul activities such as musical rendition of Kabir ke dohe, Whirling, Sound Bath Meditation, and Harmonic Dance Music.
Scaling up on the wellness front
At present, Thriive sees more than 70 percent of its customers coming from metro towns. Their average age is between 25-45 years.
According to a recent report from Ernst & Young, the Indian wellness industry is estimated to be Rs 1.5 trillion in 2019-20. Pinky says visitors to the Thriive website are growing at 10x, month on month, and are expected to hit over one million this year with approximately 10-15 percent of these visitors registered on the Thriive Platform.
Pinky has also started Thriive Journeys, the company’s foray into wellness travel. It was launched with a five-day trip to Bhutan in April this year, and included wellness experiences such as manifestation meditations, bonfire rituals, mindful treks, meditations with a lama, yoga nidra, hot stone bath, a trek to Tiger’s Nest monastery, and more.
The website also offers e-learning courses on various topics on wellness.
Starting up is not always easy
Pinky feels women always face the challenge of not being taken seriously as entrepreneurs. “Outsiders, without knowing much, often regard my work as just another frivolous pastime. It’s a standing joke in my family that I keep longer working hours than all the male members of the family. However, now I’m used it, and don’t feel the need to explain myself. It’s important as a woman entrepreneur, to keep believing in my dreams and the big picture, especially when no one else does.”
“If you have a dream, chase it, but with a good mix of practicality thrown in. Often, women don’t give themselves enough credit and easily dismiss their dreams or ideas, or they start with a bang but lose momentum when they realise it may get tough. Every roadblock or challenge is an opportunity to grow and learn. If you work through all the issues one by one, you will eventually have a strong business in your hands,” she says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)