Faacto is a virtual fitness and health platform that brings advanced technologies to one’s fingertips. It is one of India’s first gene-based fitness and health applications, where the individual’s DNA is studied.Palak Agarwal
In a conversation with SMBStory, Faacto’s Akhilesh Bagaria speaks about how the gene-based diet and fitness plan his firm offers is the best way to go about pursuing a healthier lifestyle.
Fitness is a lucrative industry in India. With gyms and yoga centres mushrooming on every street, city dwellers are spoilt for choice. But along with choice comes a lot of misinformation - diet fads, incorrect advice about weight loss, and workouts not backed by science abound.
There are plenty of app-based fitness regimes that offer diets and exercise plans based on Body Mass Index (BMI). However, “the diet offered based on the BMI does not have a scientific approach,” says Vaibhav Bhandari, co-founder, Faacto.
The current system has a lot of fundamental issues, based on a foundation that doesn’t have scientific backing, but still has led the community to believe that this is the best it deserves. Sustainable fitness needs to be more scientific, for which the approach has to be deeper,” he adds.
Seeing a gap to be addressed Akhilesh Bagaria (26), and Vaibhav (23) launched Faacto in December 2018 to offer gene-based diets and fitness plans to its clients. It is one of India’s first gene-based fitness and health applications. The company is based out of Kolkata and is bootstrapped with a capital of Rs 25 lakh.
Akhilesh explains why genetics play a vital role and how our bodies react to specific nutrients and exercises, and how Faacto helps people elevate their fitness game through science-backed diets and plans.
SMBStory: What does Faacto do?
Akhilesh Bagaria: Faacto is a virtual fitness and health platform that brings advanced technologies to one’s fingertips. It is one of India’s first gene-based fitness and health applications, where the individual’s DNA is studied.
Customers register on the Faacto mobile app where nutritionists and experts guide them on leading a healthy lifestyle on a subscription basis. Generally, we offer free services for BMI-based diet and fitness, however we focus on gene fitness where we guide the customer right from the start and connect them with our experts based on their DNA.
The highly qualified experts come together to craft diet and workout plans for our customers with a whole new level of personalisation. We’re using concepts like nutrigenomics and fitgenomics, which help give us a detailed breakdown of the body and what it truly needs.
The celebrities and famous personalities have access to gene-based fitness and health programmes. However, as it is not ‘in the market’, the majority of the fitness community isn’t even aware of this concept.
SMBS: How was Faacto started?
AB: It all started when Vaibhav and I were pursuing our degrees. We were quite discontent with our fitness levels and decided to do something about it. That’s when we realised that there was
a dearth of good dieticians and fitness experts. After dedicating ourselves to months of
restricted diets and difficult workout schedules, we barely managed to make a difference,
which eventually got us frustrated and, to be honest, quite sad. Amidst our frustration and
struggle a conversation about deserving better eventually drove us to find a solution.
So, when we found a purpose that both of us believed in, we teamed up and formed a product that easily matches the standards set by the similar industry in countries like the US, and the UK.
Initially, I contacted AMRI hospital in Kolkata to put forth my plan. We were new to this segment and had no idea how to proceed. I approached the top management of this hospital chain and after going through idea their reactions were positive.
They introduced us to a lab in Pune where we conduct DNA tests of our customers.
The execution of the plan took a little longer and we became operational in December 2018. In a span of almost five months, we have generated a revenue of approximately Rs 10 lakh.
SMBS: How do you provide gene-based diets and fitness plans to your clients?
AB: People who wish to choose our gene-based diets and fitness plans subscribe to the app and register their shipping address and contact number. We then send a ‘DNA testing kit’ to their shipping address through our logistics partner, FedEx. Once they receive the kit, they have to follow the instructions given to them and then collect their swab in a kit.
They need to then fill in a form and send the kit back to us. They may schedule the reverse pick up on the app or call our office.
The test kit is then sent to the lab where the results are generated. On the basis of the result, we advise the diet and fitness plans to clients with the help of our qualified nutritionists.
SMBS: What has been the impact of your work so far?
AB: One of our biggest achievement so far is that we have managed to deliver this
technology to the masses that has been consumed only by the elite class since
its introduction. So today, everyone can afford to lead a healthy and fit life.
If we dive into a more detailed and industry-oriented perspective, we are seeing our users
get quicker and more accurate results like never before. These plans are easy to follow since
each plan is personalised to address one’s genetic needs. For example, we study genes like
the ‘clock gene’, which helps us determine at which time of the day the body is most
productive and is capable of reaching its maximum potential.
We study a wide range of genes that play an essential role in the fitness and health
spectrum. These are beneficial for the people in the long run as we not only help them lose
weight but also address their health issues like diabetes and cholesterol.
SMBS: How do fitness experts connect with people on Faacto?
AB: The experts present on our platform interact with the customers via text and call. However, there are a few people who emphasis on a more personal approach and, for them, we arrange video calls.
There are also a few customers who want to meet and interact, and for them, we arrange a meeting session in our offices based out of Bengaluru and Kolkata.
SMBS: What are the key milestones so far in your journey?
AB: Since its inception, the Faacto app has received an overwhelming response for a unique take on fitness by involving science, its minimalistic app interface, and its wide
offerings of free content in the form of recipes and workouts.
We have achieved 15,000 app downloads in less than three months, with 2,000 unique subscribers opting for its trial plans.
Faacto was also featured in the ‘top 100’ Health and Fitness apps both on the App store and
Google Play store.
SMBS: What are the major challenges you have gone through in your journey?
AB: Customer education and awareness are the successive challenges we go through. As the fitness community is used to the older technique, they are resistant to change and adapting to newer systems.
Customers take their time to actually adopt these newer techniques but once they do, they stick to it. SMBS: What are your future prospects?
AB: Our immediate goal is to introduce more reasonable plans and widen our reach to the sections of the society that cannot afford to stay healthy today. We’re working on some cool projects like studying the impact of caffeine and alcohol on the body and how it should or should not be a part of the diet based on an individual’s DNA.
Another huge task on our roadmap is to introduce plans for children, that’s one
section of the audience we’re not catering to right now. Our experts are developing the
perfect solution for children to stay healthy and fit; we’re going to take our time with this one
as we’re not strong believers of experimenting with health.