The following responses can be attributed to Ms. Jyotsna Pattabiraman, CEO, Grow Fit.
When was the company founded and who are the founder(s)?
Grow Fit was founded by Jyotsna Pattabiraman, who is a Stanford MBA and Melton Fellow. She has previously held leadership positions at Cybercash (acquired by Verisign/Paypal), eBay, Yahoo!, Oracle, OnMobile and Knowlarity in the US and in India.
She realised the need for preventive health strategies around September 2015, after going through health challenges herself and watching her friends and family struggle with lifestyle disease. It is estimated that the economic loss due to lifestyle disease is about $54Bn USD in 2015 alone. Fortunately, changing habits can prevent and reverse lifestyle disease. While the scale of the problem is too large for the existing medical establishment to handle, disruptive technologies such as machine learning and mobile can do a lot to tackle the problem.
What does Grow Fit do, what is the product/technology?
Grow Fit is a mobile health companion that offers expert advice as well as therapeutic and functional foods. We combine data science, medical science and behavioral insights to guide people to a healthier, happier version of themselves. Grow has a comprehensive approach that addresses nutrition, activity, skin/hair, sleep and mental wellness. Through our expert platform, we connect users all across India with experts who have been thoroughly vetted. Our experts are chosen because of their clinical/scientific background and experience with lifestyle disease.
Customers who download our flagship app, Grow Fit, can connect with psychologists, dieticians, cosmetologists, physiotherapists and sleep experts. They receive diet charts through the mobile app as well as daily coaching and motivation. Customers from all over India, especially from small towns, are using the app to empower their health. Through our mobile app, Grow Fit, which has about 100,000 users currently, we’ve learned that Indians are eating diets that are encumbered by excess sugar and refined grains. Armed with this information, Grow not only educates people on how to eat healthy and exercise right, we formulate foods that help Indians prevent lifestyle disease. We are the only comprehensive mobile health solution that goes beyond advice to its actual implementation.
Realising that advice and counselling can only go so far, Grow Fit attempts to cover the last mile through therapeutic food products.
Our food products include fresh foods (ready-to-eat) as well as staples (packaged foods).
– Our fresh foods are targeted at the urban professional or homemaker and aims to fuel their healthy lifestyles and reverse lifestyle disease.
– Our staples (packaged foods) ship across India and are meant for people that want to make healthy nutrition a practice for the entire family.
We have also launched Grow Self, a mental wellness app where clients chat with trained counsellors about their daily life issues. The anonymity of mobile chat helps ease the stigma connected to seeking help. We have a young user base of below 25 years whom we have helped get clarity in key issues in their life.
How much are the products/services priced at? How has the response been so far?
Customers can choose between free and personalized plans. A free plan is a generic plan that is right for your BMI. However, many customers want more attention and personalisation based on their individual situation e.g traveling, working on the night shift, allergic to certain foods etc.
Nutritional plans: Rs 249/week – Rs 1999 for 8 weeks
Therapy & Stress Management: Rs 199 per session
Sleep & Cosmetology: Rs 399 per session
Functional foods: Rs 230 for specialized mixes to Rs 2199 for the New You Programme and Meal Kit
Around 100,000 users from all over India have tried our services. We find that people are ready to invest in their health and wellness and they have expressed a great deal of gratitude. P. Joshi of Mumbai credits the app with helping him get his health on track. Gourishankar of Rourkela is an active member of our community and inspires others in their journey. “Without proper knowledge of diet and weight loss, one cannot have a healthy life. Grow Fit is awesome as they provide customised service.”, says Gourisankar.
Within Bangalore, we have several customers who credit Grow Fit with the rapid improvement in their health, such as –
* Customers tend to lose about 1 kg a week, even if they have conditions like PCOS that make it hard for them to lose weight. They do this until they reach a healthy weight.
* Their blood sugar improves to a normal range, if they are in the pre-diabetic or diabetic range. Their vitamin D levels increase.
* They experience greater energy which in turn encourages them to build better habits like walking or running.
* Their good cholesterol (HDL) goes up while their bad cholesterol (LDL) comes down. One person had their cholesterol drop by 100 points in 4 weeks.
* We have also observed that joint pains reduce and mobility increases.
* We are trialling foods that improve skin, hair and sleep.
Any users from different parts of Asia?
Currently, we only offer services within India. We do, however, plan to branch out to other parts of Asia in the near future.
What is the business/revenue model of the company?
Funding status: One of our backers is Growth Story, the venture-builder platform. We also have other prominent investors.
Monetization & Revenue: We monetise on personalised advice as well as through functional foods. Personalised expert advice starts at INR 249/week, however the most popular packages are our 4-week and 8-week programmes.
We offer fresh foods (in Bangalore only) at INR 1799 + delivery. This works out to INR 300 per meal, which also includes a drink, a snack and supplements.
Staples/packaged foods start at below Rs 200 for snacks. A comprehensive packaged meal plan, which includes 18 meals, works out to INR 2199. This includes portion-controlled staples such as low-carb quinoa mix, millets and black rice for main courses as well as pre-packed, portion-controlled breakfasts and snacks. These ship across India.
– Grow Fit is positioned as a one-stop preventive health start-up
– We have accumulated a large amount of data surrounding the state of health among Indians today that is being disseminated to curb the spread of lifestyle disease in the country
– Raising awareness about preventive health
– Publishing important findings about the right nutrition
– Promoting the two mobile apps and the fresh and packaged food offering among consumers
Studies conducted by Grow Fit reveal that an alarming number of young Indians in the 27-36 age group suffer from invisible and asymptomatic lifestyle diseases – 300 million! The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates the economic burden of treating lifestyle diseases in India would be close to $6.2 trillion for the period 2012-2030.
What other streams of revenue do you foresee? What are the future plans for your company?
Grow Fit intends to become your comprehensive daily health companion. Thus, in addition to the nutrition counselling, fresh and packaged foods and mental wellness counselling, we have 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 also 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.
What are your achievements so far?
*Over 100,000 users have used our product so far with the app showing high engagement and return rates. Our iPhone app is ranked in the top 5 for its category.
*Our success rates are stunning. We believe we are almost 10x better than the published data on this subject.
*We have delivered over 60,000 diet charts across India within 7 months of launch
Your thoughts on biotech and healthcare startups in India/Asia, in general:
Asians have different phenotypes and are more susceptible to lifestyle diseases than westerners. It’s important to develop technologies that work for Asians and not just extrapolate from studies and best practices in the west or elsewhere. The diversity of races, dietary habits and environments make it critical to find solutions that work for us.
Our traditional medicine systems incorporated wellness as a key element. However, with the advent of industrialization and western lifestyles, we have arrived at the worst of both worlds. We have to tackle lifestyle disease on a war footing.
I think it’s important to be outcome-focused. We need to manage uncertainty and deliver results in biotech and healthcare. It’s true that the human body is complex but we now have the capability to literally figure out what works for each person. We need to use this capability to discovering therapies and mediums of distribution that work every single time.
The startup journey is always refreshing and challenging at the same time. What makes this special is knowing that our work impacts so many and transforms the way they think about themselves and not just in terms of health. I am inspired by the affection and commitment of our customers and hope that we never let them down.