Tell us about the background to how you came to found GOQii?
For most of my life I have thrived on the Internet. What I am today, I may not have been without the Internet. Gaming was my childhood passion. I started making games for corporates and games enthusiasts and later started IndiaGames, concentrating on mobile games. Clearly it got an overwhelming response from people, making IndiaGames a market leader in 2012. Disney acquired IndiaGames and I was with Disney for a year. Post IndiaGames, I was thinking of starting something that was very close to my heart. It is a universal truth that unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle can lead to people becoming obese. Globally, 31.1% of adults are inactive. At one point, despite being a volleyball champion, I put on a lot of weight as I was not exercising or eating correctly. I purchased all the available fitness bands and fitness apps, but it didn’t seem to help me in the long run.
Experts say more than 80% of people quit fitness efforts within a couple of months. Mostly that is because a fitness regime can be a lonely pursuit. When it comes to fitness bands, industry data suggests that most of wearable users tend to discontinue usage after a few months. My belief is that the important ingredients for any technology to be successful or a game changer are ease of use, an amazing use case, especially with one feature that makes the product stand out and, above all, the right pricing. Bearing this in mind, I had a thought that if the power of technology, the Internet and human touch came together, maybe it could help a lot of people stay true to their goal of living an active healthy lifestyle. This led to the invention of GOQii.
GOQii launched its commercial operations in India mid-2014, and had close to 13,000 paying subscribers in less than 6 months. It is expanding its operations to the US, South East Asia and Middle East markets in Q1 2016.
Could you give us some background on your products and services?
What is interesting about GOQii is that it operates on a subscription-based model, which means we have integrated the coach with the fitness band. The unique features that make GOQii stand out from the rest of wearable technology players in the industry are:
1. GOQii is a fitness coaching system on top of an existing wearable ecosystem which operates on a subscription-based model. This allows consumers to subscribe for the services and the GOQii band comes free of cost. It takes your data from various devices and various apps and then the data is given to a fitness coach, who works with you on the cloud to help you get fit. GOQii is more into the healthy lifestyle space, not just a weight lose mechanism.
2. GOQii launched the world’s first ‘coach’ marketplace model. The other differentiating factor for GOQii lies in the fact that while existing apps, wearable gadgets and online solutions only provide simple data collection tools or diet logging apps, leading to short-term results, GOQii integrates the ‘human factor’ via a GOQii personal coach, who works with the user’s data to provide customised advice on a regular basis, to keep the user motivated and on track to success by goal reinforcement.
3. GOQii is platform agnostic. It allows the users’ designated coach access to their fitness data using the GOQii band and also inter-operates with various brands of bands and fitness apps. Currently GOQii supports 35 plus devices and apps like Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple Watch, HealthKit, Garmin, Polar, Strava, Runkeeper etc.
4. GOQii Karma. Based on the goals defined by the user, he/she is matched with a coach based on their specific needs. As the users start achieving their fitness goals they earn Karma points, which they can donate to support a cause of their choice with GOQii’s partner Oxfam.
5. On pricing, GOQii is seen as a company that provides services to users to help them opt for a healthy lifestyle. GOQii offers subscriptions at $49 for 3 months, $99 for 6 months, and $199 for 12 months.
What do you perceive as the primary disruptive factors in the fitness and health wearables sector?
Wearable technology is developing swiftly in the West and the excitement has been replicated in the growth markets too. By 2016 smartwatches will constitute about 40% of wrist wearable devices. 7 out of the top 10 smartphone vendors have either already entered the space or are about to. A year ago, there were 2. So, we can safely say wearable technology is getting adopted by consumers.
The next phase of growth will come from services like GOQii, which take advantage of the streams of data generated by these devices, helping the users make sense of the data to provide actionable advice and motivation.
What do you like best about Juniper Research, or about Juniper’s research into the wearables sector?
Juniper is a well-established company and is known to have a strong focus on research. Top companies across the world rely on them to predict the future. When they predict something, it’s likely to happen.
Over the past few years, Juniper has been releasing very interesting and credible reports. In view of that, being recognised as amongst the top 5 developments that will impact the smart wireless devices sector in 2015 by a respected analyst firm like Juniper Research is particularly gratifying.