Count your footsteps

Count your footsteps

GetActive encourages its users to take 5,000 steps a day as a start towards better health. Today, it has over 10,000 corporate users and seeks to acquire many more by getting onto retail shelves

S. MEERA

MOHAMMAD HUSSAIN NASEEM, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, 2MPOWER (GETACTIVE)

Lifestyle diseases have become the bane that modern society, even with the aid of advanced healthcare, cannot wish away. If anything, healthcare costs have gone up thanks to the need to combat these diseases. Experts believe, by 2030 a major part of the nation’s GDP will be devoted to healthcare costs.

In such a scenario, 30 minutes of exercise can go a long way in keeping individuals fit enough to fight off diseases. Of course, there’s the additional lure of looking younger than your stated age. And yet, many find it difficult to devote that time to exercising.

Mohammed Hussain Naseem, Co-Founder and CEO, GetActive, found this to be an appalling state of affairs when he started a wellness centre in Koramangala, Bengaluru in 2009. An engineer from IIT Bombay, he had been an active participant in sports since childhood and taken an avid interest in mountaineering and long distance running. Even during his corporate life, he managed to devote time to his passion, which has kept him in good health. “I am chemical engineer who was drawn to the medical line and so I did my second masters in medical physics,” he says. His work at GE Medical and later in setting up the healthcare division of IBM in India gave him further insights into the need for technology-based interventions to improve health outcomes.

I realised this (GetActive) had to be fun, simple and easy to implement. That was how the idea of a device to count the steps being taken by an individual came about.

His healthful quest led him to develop and market a product that tracks and updates statistics on the physical activity undertaken by an individual. This aims at integrating exercise into daily lifestyle by demonstrating its benefits and also networking with related healthcare professionals who can use the statistics to modify health related solutions on offer.

Step-by-step

Naseem knew first-hand the importance of remaining healthy and when he decided to start the wellness centre, he spoke with doctors, nutritionists and physical trainers to provide a holistic experience to the customers.

He established his venture, 2mpower, in 2011 in Bengaluru and set up the first wellness centre in Koramangala. He approached corporates to enrol their employees as he believes, and was able to convince them, that with better health, productivity would improve. Within months, there were 2,000 people enrolled in the centre and he wanted to expand to other locations.

But he also realised that many a times, though the executives displayed initial enthusiasm about enjoying the benefits of a corporate-sponsored healthcare program, their own professional demands got in the way. “The health coach would call to remind the executives who would keep postponing their appointments and then stop taking calls altogether,” recollects Naseem.

He soon realised that a regimented exercise schedule may not work for busy professionals. With an intention to encourage them to take at least 5,000 steps a day, he organised his members into teams and conducted competitions. They could walk anywhere, even in the office, when talking on the phone or even at home. This improved compliance from 15 per cent to 60 per cent. This also had a trigger effect, impacting other aspects of their lives positively – such as diet and general health awareness. “I realised this had to be fun, simple and easy to implement. That was how the idea of a device to count the steps being taken by an individual came about,” he explains the genesis of the product GetActive. The product was developed in 2012 and commercialised in 2013. It not only counts the steps but also has features such as analytics. GetActive was welcomed by 12 individuals with a similar bent of mind, and these individuals became angel investors in the company.

More than a product

In the last one year, the product has clocked 10,000 users, mostly through the 20 corporates the company has partnered with, continuing on its theme of improved health leads to improved productivity. “Product and platform alone may disillusion users and make the product a showpiece with time,” says Naseem. And hence, the features built around the product and creating an eco-system of dieticians and other healthcare professionals who can use this data to provide the user with better and appropriate solutions is paramount.

“A health insurance provider can reduce the premium seeing an improvement in health parameters due to regular walking. A doctor can modify the medication,” says Naseem as he lists out the benefits of how data being made available to relevant healthcare professionals can provide added benefits.

But it is not all about health. Since fun is also an integral part of the tool, it enables one to track one’s own progress and that of peers. There are treks along virtual routes and associated with special occasions – like the Dandi march on October 2. Achieving certain milestones brings rewards from retailers such as Puma and Lifestyle.

Creating a market

To create brand awareness, the company went the corporate route as there was little money to invest in traditional marketing.“ We went to Happiest Minds, whose mandate is to create happy employees and customers and built this into their corporate strategy. At Wipro too, we met people who believe in what we are saying and so buying in was easier,” explains Naseem. GetActive being easy to adapt worked in its favour.

The company works with aggregators such as doctors and dieticians who use the platform for a fee and in turn, offer it as a service to their patients, thus expanding the market for GetActive while enhancing their own service capability. The product is also available online at stores such as FlipKart.

Soon, the company does plan to use the retail route and is looking for funding to establish a distribution network and call centres to provide support. “The problem with the product segment in India is that investors want to see the market response before putting their money in. Unlike a service, the future of products is always looked at with suspicion,” he opines.

Developing the future

Feature development is key in any product-oriented business. But Naseem is clear that there will not be mindless additions but only those based on need and relevance. “The Indian users are excited with data only to a certain extent. They need tangible benefits and our features will be based on their expectations,” he delineates the approach of the company.

The company is working on a wristband that is easy to use and appealing. It is planning a feature that will enable people to alert anyone of their choice in case of an emergency like a fall or being in a position of threat– especially women and the elderly.

The company is also working with multinational signal processing company, Texas Instruments, on developing a sensor that will warn of an impending heart attack. “There is a change in an individual’s heartbeat pattern just prior to an attack. This device will capture that and alert a doctor or relative so that timely care can be provided,” he explains. This is scheduled for release in 2014-15.

The company has a focused team of 17 people, of which 12 are focused on research and development. The vision for the company is to achieve 100 billion footsteps in five to seven years.

There is no geographical limit where the market for this product is concerned, but India itself has a high potential for growth, following which Asia is on its radar.


Snapshot

2mpower

Founder: Hussain Naseem

Year: 2011

Investors: Angel investors

Focus: GetActive product to track the number of steps every user takes


WALK MORE FOR BETTER HEALTH 

An avid fitness person himself, Mohammad Hussain Naseem, Co-Founder & CEO, GetActive, had experienced the benefits of regular exercising even through demanding corporate jobs. His desire to spread wellness though met with roadblocks as people seemed too caught up with their work pressures and other demands on their time to be unable to spare 30 minutes for exercising. Realising the futility of imposing a regimented exercise schedule, Naseem hit on the idea of encouraging people to take 5000 steps a day and developed a product that would help people track their activity level. He used the corporate route leveraging on the link between good health and productivity and has 10,000 customers today. He intends to explore the retail route too on getting funding. And once the product gains stability in the country, he intends to explore markets beyond the Indian boundaries too.

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