From yoga mats to fitness products: how this entrepreneur scaled his business to clock Rs 30 Cr turnover in two years
Being fit is important for everyone. Twenty-five-year old entrepreneur Pallav Bihani realised this quite early when he suffered from a slip disc while in school, right before his board exams.
In an interaction with SMBStory, he says,
“I was 105 kilograms and I realised that I must start a fitness regime to stay healthy. In the first year of my college, I hit the gym and started taking health supplements. It took a little while, but I was able to bring down my weight. But there was one thing that hit me -- fitness affordability.”
He explains that fitness is not affordable in India. Right from health supplements and fitness accessories to immunity boosters – people cannot afford such high costs.
Hailing from a family that has been into manufacturing hospital supplies, Pallav decided to join the family business after his graduation. However, he soon perceived that he was not adding much value to the business that was already established and running successfully. It was at this time he started thinking about the fitness segment and thus, to fill the gap, he founded Boldfit in Bengaluru in January 2019.
Bringing fitness to everyone
Pallav says his primary motive to start Boldfit was to make fitness available for everyone. And so, he started this D2C, health and fitness ecommerce brand to reach directly to the consumers after taking a loan of Rs eight lakh from his father.
The cash was less to set up a whole manufacturing infrastructure and Pallav wasn’t ready to seek any external funding, and so he decided to start small and began with yoga mats.
“Yoga mats can be used for any kind of fitness activities. Undoubtedly, at the time when I was planning to foray into this business, the competition was immense as there were many organised and unorganised players. But, there were not many Indian brands that were giving high quality mats at affordable prices,” Pallav tells SMBStory.
Pallav realised that if yoga mats are not of good quality, they get worn out easily, and the ones that sustain for long are very expensive. He tapped this segment by contacting a few contract manufacturers to make yoga mats for his brand.
He started selling yoga mats in his close circle and then listed the product on Amazon and was surprised by the response. He says, “I knew there was a gap in the market but didn’t know that it was too much.”
Pallav claims that Boldfit yoga mats last for at least three years.
Starting with just one product, Boldfit now has 30 SKUs across categories including fitness and yoga, nutrition, health and wellness. Out of 30, Pallav says that 17 SKUs were added only in November 2020. The price of Boldfit products starts from Rs 199.
After the successful launch of the yoga mats, Pallav expanded Boldfit to launch nutritional and wellness supplements, where he brought proteins, multivitamins, immunity boosters, detox tablets, and other supplements under WHO and GMP compliance.
Pallav says India is a big pharma hub and the country has great manufacturers, but still the country is dependent on imports. Whey proteins are mostly imported from the US, and hence the prices are high. Boldfit manufactures the same through third-party manufacturers while sourcing raw materials from across India including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and more.
Boldfit products are available across ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, MensXP, and it also sells products through its own portal.
Digitising the business
Going digital has helped Boldfit maintain a lean approach and reach customers across the country. Pallav says the growth of the company would not have been possible without digital penetration and achieving their present scale would be unthinkable a decade ago in the non-digital era.
Boldfit has utilised the maximised potential of the digital ecosystem and has made its presence felt across India. According to the founder, Boldfit has fulfilled over 2,00,000 lakh orders so far, and today one Boldfit product is delivered somewhere in India every minute.
In a span of two years, the company claims to be having an annual turnover of Rs 30 crore.
Challenges and competition
Pallav says that India is among the fastest-growing fitness and healthcare market in the world, and is projected to be a $10 billion market by 2025.
“We at Boldfit are on a mission to standardise nutrition and fitness products and offer our customers the best prices. We also offer our customers a lot of content and literature on how to get fit. Apart from our products and offering, our D2C approach has helped us be lean and scale quickly,” he adds.
For Boldfit, capital had been a constraint in the early days, but Pallav says it also gave them the discipline to make some hard choices and decisions and stay bootstrapped.
Competition with other leading and established brands in India, besides the vast set up of foreign brand Decathlon into the fitness space, was another challenge. But it didn’t take long for Pallav to understand consumer dynamics and accept the competition.
The way ahead
Pallav says he aims to make Boldfit reach masses by playing on the pricing strategy and be the first name to hit the mind when it comes to fitness products. He says that his ultimate dream for the brand is to be on par with Decathlon in India.
The brand is also soon going to launch and include more SKUs in its portfolio.
This year, the company is also launching its ayurvedic product range called Boldveda. It is also in talks with Nykaa, NetMed, and other ecommerce companies to list its products.