While Google Glass raised our concerns about security, it also made wearable devices fashionable. Among the many ways in which wearables are making our life easy today, the health and wellness aspect of these devices has really struck a chord. For instance, Happiest Minds, the IT services and consulting firm, is among the first in the country to use wearable technology to ensure physical wellness of its staffers.
One such startup that’s making its mark in the health and wellness market of wearables is GOQii. Ask Vishal Gondal, its founder, and he will tell you that the company is changing the perspective of consumers towards wearables.
According to Gondal, for any major hardware company in the world, the power does not lie in manufacturing. “I feel that while we need to encourage hardware and manufacturing in India, more emphasis should be laid on making design and technology proprietary.”
With so many other players in the market, Gondal’s differentiator lies in the ambition to make GOQii a device-agnostic product. “While many of these players are still trying to understand service, our expertise will lie in the ability to integrate with any device and allow a user to access GOQii fitness coach services, validating our brand’s theory—the bigger opportunity in IoT is not in hardware, but in the apps and services around it,” he says.
With only four months in the market, GOQii claims to have already sold its coaching services to a few thousand customers. They are also in talks to extend their services to other countries.
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The idea originated one day, when Gondal, a health freak who had been skipping his fitness regime due to extensive travelling, decided to try out the various wearable devices and apps available in the market. “The apps weren’t helping me at all,” he says. It was when his fitness coach asked Gondal to send him all the data collected from these apps, did he come up with the idea.
“I realized that what’s important is not the data, but what to do with that data. All the information collected from a wearable device is just 10 percent of the solution. It’s the rest of the 90 percent—which is you and your motivation to adopt a healthier lifestyle—which was the real deal,” Gondal says.
A fitness enthusiast and a marathoner, Gondal feels that a standalone device equipped with sensors that records your fitness, pulse, and heartbeat isn’t enough to motivate people. The fitness coach from GOQii adds a new dimension to a user’s fitness regime. “We offer an ecosystem that allows users to adopt a healthier and a more fulfilling lifestyle,” says Gondal.
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GOQii is not just a health band that records a user’s health stats and provides information in the form of data. It’s a platform that allows users to connect to real-life coaches who advise them on their day-to-day food and exercise regime. Behavior experts such as Kendra Markle and Luke Coutinho, nutrition experts from Stanford, and clinical biologists are few of the many coaches associated with Gondal’s mission.
The GOQii plan includes the proprietary GOQii health band, the GOQii personal coach service, and the GOQii app. The app allows users to interact with other GOQii users through a social interface, and is available for both Android and iOS devices. It also enables users to chat with their personal trainers. The entire package is available for a six- and 12-month period for Rs 6,999 and Rs 11,999 respectively.
Gondal, who also founded Indiagames, which was later bought over by Disney for around $100 million (about Rs 600 crore), started GOQii in March this year. The company is headquartered in California, and has offices in India and China.
“The vision is to reach out to millions of users, collect their health data, and give them to fitness experts who can offer them a permanent health solution,” Gondal says.