This woman entrepreneur scaled fitness startup Fitternity to a Rs 114 Cr company across 12 cities
For Neha Motwani, Founder and CEO of fitness platform, the idea of starting up stemmed from a personal need of wanting an effective way to manage her workout regime. However, she was unsure how to get started.
Many of us feel the same way.
We want to work out – but don’t know what to choose. Aeroboics, a traditional workout, Pilates, Zumba, Kettle Bell training… there are a number of options.
Keen on fitness since she was a young girl, Neha realised that many others keen on following a fit lifestyle faced the same question: what to choose and which gym to frequent?
Prior to Fitternity, after completing her MBA, Neha worked with Aon Hewitt in the talent and organisation consulting domain.
The fitness sector was a completely new domain and required extensive research before Neha took the plunge. She identified two specific consumer segments based on purchasing patterns and curated offerings as per user needs.
A fitness option according to your need
Based on this data and insights, she looked at users in India in two unique groups, ‘New World Users’ and ‘Old World Users’.
Old World Users are people who find a gym nearby, buy a membership, have a one-on-one relationship with the gym, and work out for days they want to or as per their own convenience. New World Users want flexibility, low entry barriers, and cost optimisation.
“The Fitternity website was our first offering, which enabled users to discover fitness centres, gyms and studios near them. We then evolved into a transactional set-up using data from the initial day. To provide a personal, on-the-go, mobile experience, we launched the Fitternity app,” she says.
Neha adds that a “very positive consumer response” to Fitternity's discoverability service led her to evolve the platform into a marketplace.
The consistent engagement with consumers and a deeper understanding of their needs led Fitternity to develop the One Pass and Pay-per-Session features that have become extremely popular.
Soon, Fitternity established itself as a one-stop destination for fitness in India and the largest fitness discovery and booking platform.
It enables bookings across 17+ categories of fitness services over 12,000+ fitness gyms and centres and sports facilities across 12+ Indian cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, and more.
Users can access in-depth information like photos, videos, descriptions, and amenities available at every fitness centre along with ratings and reviews for informed decision-making.
Fitternity’s partnerships include international fitness chains like Gold’s Gym, MultiFit, and Anytime Fitness to studios owned by renowned celebrity trainers like ShivFit by Shivoham, Fitocratic by Yasmin Karachiwala, and Bodyholics by Abbas Ali.
It has also tied up with local brands like The Space and Arts in Motion, spaces for alternative fitness solutions, and also facilitates access to swimming pools in luxury hotels like Westin, Hyatt, Sofitel, Le Meridien, and The Park, among others.
One size doesn’t fit all
Neha says Fitternity believes in addressing customers’ specific needs. And for this, constant innovation is key.
“For example, one of our most innovative offerings is the OnePass, a convenient, cost-effective, and flexible offering. It is available in two variants, One Pass – Red and One Pass – Black. The former offers a subscription valid for a particular set of days, and the latter offers a lifetime membership with no validity limit. We also have Pay-per-session and other memberships that provide a smooth experience to the end consumer. The user just has to pay for the session she wants to attend; no upfront payments, no commitments,” she says.
Apart from consumer-based offerings, Fitternity also provides corporate wellness programmes that give employees the benefits of working out at work.
Fitternity was launched in late 2014, and in the past five years, Neha believes the country has witnessed a tremendous shift in the fitness, health and wellness industry, which has helped her understand the market better.
“Our initial learning was that while the demand was massive, the supply was not equipped to manage the same. We had to connect the dots and make the suppliers understand block by block on how more Indians are going online in search of their fitness needs and the high probability of mass sales if they would standardise their rates,” she says.
“One of the biggest aspects of our growth has been that we have been adaptable and considerate of customer's requirements and have created a product that resonated with changing consumer needs,” she adds.
Fittnerity has seen a 3x growth year on year overall and a revenue of $16 million (Rs 114 crore). According to Neha, newer offerings like OnePass and Corporate Wellness are growing at 100 percent month on month. Users have also increased to one crore.
The initial investment in the company was Rs 1.5 crore, made by a friends and family investment round. Fittnerity now has a slew of investors backing it: marquee investors like Patni family office, Taparia family office, Salgaocar family office, and Anjali Bansal among other industry leaders from India and Silicon Valley. It also plans to raise a Series B round later this year.
Biggest highs and lowest lows
Neha says Fitternity had the advantage of being the first in the industry to start a platform like this when they started off.
“However, we did have our share of disadvantages or, more appropriately, our set of challenges. For instance, when we expand our business to a new city, it has its own way of consuming fitness. With Fitternity, we have been trying to understand consumer needs, which are based on their demographic, and work towards the same. Another challenge that we face is in terms of building a strong value proposition value for suppliers to trust us,” she says.
Neha says an entrepreneurial journey is a huge responsibility. “It is essential to know your business well in order to achieve great heights. I think women make great entrepreneurs and there is an increasing number of women funding their own companies, but we definitely need more female role models in business.”
In the future, Fitternity aims to hugely impact penetration of preventive healthcare services in the Indian population via ‘New World Offerings’.
“We strongly believe, on the basis data, that these offerings cater to fundamental consumer challenges that traditional businesses haven’t been able to address, leading to higher penetration and retention of users. Operational in 12 cities, we aim to expand this offering across 25 cities in India and 12 cities in APAC,” she says.
“We also want to deepen our wellness offerings by incorporating healthy food, sports, spa services, and health/fitness check-ups into our subscription product OnePass. This will help it go from a fitness membership to an all-inclusive wellness pass. We estimate that the revenue business will grow to a $1 billion ARR business in the next five years across the entire portfolio that we manage,” Neha signs off.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)