Do you know that over 6 million lives are lost in India every year due to lifestyle diseases (heart disease, stroke, diabetes, among others) and around 300 million people are living with or are at risk of contracting them. The problem is too large for the medical system to address; worse, people have nowhere to turn to for support. A Bengaluru-based start-up, Grow Fit, is seeking to empower Indians to prevent and in many cases, reverse lifestyle diseases by addressing its root causes—nutrition, mental wellness, stress, sleep and activity through a combination of expert advice and functional products.
Grow Fit is a comprehensive health companion that offers expert advice (via a mobile app) as well as therapeutic and functional foods. Through the Grow Fit mobile app, users can connect with trained therapists, clinical nutritionists and experienced cosmetologists to discover personalised solutions that are right for them. Its easy-to-use, one-to-one chat-based coaching programme connects users to experts in mental and physical health and covers sleep, skin and hair, nutrition and exercise parameters.
Backed by Growth Story, the venture-builder platform founded by K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh, Grow Fit was launched in February 2016. Its CEO Jyotsna Pattabiraman details her entrepreneurial journey: “The seed for founding Grow Fit was sown a couple of years ago when it seemed that almost everyone I knew—including myself—had been diagnosed with something frightening—cancer, heart disease, diabetes at a relatively young age. Some had even been hospitalised. These were friends and relatives who I knew were eating carefully and regularly exercising. I myself was turning in blood work that was worryingly high on the CA125 (the cancer test). I was not getting the right answers from the doctors; they seemed to talk in generalisations rather than what was right for me.”
Pattabiraman, who is a Stanford MBA and Melton Fellow and has previously held executive leadership positions at PayPal, eBay, Yahoo!, Oracle, OnMobile and Knowlarity in the US and in India, reckons: “I believed that we could use the power of technology to understand the problem better and to drive meaningful interventions. When I met with Growth Story last year, they offered me the opportunity to be an EIR (entrepreneur in residence) and work on mobile health, which was a dream come true for me. That’s how Grow Fit was formed.”
Health is wealth
According to her, Grow Fit’s chat subscription revenue has been doubling month on month. As far as food subscription is concerned, the number of orders has grown five times since March. “Our packaged foods are in their trial phase and products have been sent across the country for sampling,” she says.
The Grow Fit mobile app has been downloaded over 1,50,000 times since last November (Android and iOS together) and more than 60,000 diet charts have been downloaded. “We are planning on a mobile web option for those users who do not want to download the app. The number of nutritionists at Grow Fit has grown from three to 50 in a very short while. At present our core team size stands at 30, and we are continuing to expand on a month-on-month basis,” she informs.
Grow Fit encompasses mental health through a separate app called Grow Self. In addition to the nutrition advice and customised diet plans, Grow Fit also offers fresh and packaged foods that help users improve their health. “We monetise on personalised advice as well as through functional foods,” she says. For instance, personalised expert advice starts at R199/week, however, the most popular packages are the 4-week and 8-week programmes. “We presently offer fresh foods in Bengaluru only at R1,799 plus delivery. This works out to R300 per meal, which also includes a drink, a snack and supplements.”
Stay fit and healthy
Company officials inform that 60% of Grow Fit’s users come from tier-2 and tier-3 cities, proving that better health is a universal concern. Cities such as Lucknow and Medak are witnessing a surge in user numbers. Grow Fit recently expanded into the functional beverages segment with the acquisition of Drink King, a nutritional beverage platform started in early 2015. The acquisition was made for an undisclosed consideration of cash and stock.
Grow Fit intends to become a comprehensive daily health companion to users. Thus, in addition to the nutrition counseling, fresh and packaged foods and mental wellness counseling, the start-up has launched skin and hair health services packaged designed to keep up with today’s lifestyle.
“Our future plans include fertility and issues related to pregnant and lactating women, joint health, stress management and more, all through the mobile. We plan to integrate different sources of data from wearables and medical reports in order to make the app a one-stop, comprehensive companion for wellness,” concludes Pattabiraman.