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Fitness start-ups bet on corporate clients to keep their top lines healthy

Fitness discovery and booking platform, Fitternity, recently raised additional funding from Sixth Sense Ventures and some new and existing investors as well. It might be worth looking at how the company is deploying the $1 million it received as an extension to the $4 million series A round it announced in this May. 

The six-year-old start-up has launched its subscription service, OnePass, which is an exclusive, all-access pass for fitness and health needs around working out and eating healthy. Through this pass, users can get unlimited access to do workouts at over 12,000 fitness centres and sports facilities across the country, with an added feature of a lifetime validity.  

“A model like this works well for corporate subscriptions as not all employees would have the same usage levels, and companies do choose to offer passes to employees who can then schedule activities as per their convenience," says Neha Motwani, co-founder, Fitternity.

At present, sessions booked through health insurance tie-ups contribute to 20 per cent of the pay-per-session business for Fitternity. Hindustan Unilever, McKinsey, Novartis, Bank of Baroda and more than 25 other corporates use Fitternity's services to impact employee wellbeing. 

This is an example of how online fitness and health companies are now increasingly tapping opportunities in the enterprise space as corporates look at using their service to enhance employee productivity and engagement. This also gives these start-ups a better predictable revenue model than the kind offered by simply chasing the price-conscious individual customer. 

The model of enhancing the engagement with consumers through business clients is also driving investment in the health and fitness sector. Recently, health and fitness startup Cure.fit closed $120 million in its Series D funding round in a mix of equity and debt funding led by Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures), Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, and Oaktree Capital. Cure.fit which owns gyms under the CultFit brand, also offers a range of healthy food options under EatFit, mental wellness programmes through MindFit and diagnostic centres through CareFit.

Enterprises are certainly seeing a need for stronger engagement with employees around health and fitness whether it is through in-house programmes or partnerships with providers like Fitternity. For example, Infosys partnered with leading domestic health app Healthifyme for a fitness challenge recently which is said to have mobilised over 7000 participants.

“We have tie ups with twenty-plus health and wellness vendors that provide discounted offerings on health and fitness products exclusively to employees at Infosys. They also sponsor fitness products during our wellness related events like runs and sports competitions,” says Richard Lobo, Executive Vice President and Head of Human Resources at Infosys.

In fact, HealthifyMe has partnerships with well over 75 companies to engage with them for employee fitness programmes. Most MNCs are tying up with such providers to outsource employee well-being to new age firms that are trained with this, which provide them comprehensive model to track the growth.

Earlier this month, Fitso, a full-stack sports facilities provider raised $1.5 million from a clutch of investors including SRI Capital, Zomato Co-founder Pankaj Chaddah, and Helion Ventures’ founder Ashish Gupta, in a pre-series A round. The Gurugram-based startup’s primary product SEALs offers coaching and access to all-weather swimming pools in Delhi-NCR through the year. The company which offers sports programmes in badminton and tennis also plans to launch an all-in-one pass.

According to Redseer, the fitness industry in the country which is estimated to be at $12 billion in 2018, is projected to increase at 18 per cent CAGR to reach $32 billion by 2022. Recreational sports is expected account for over 62 per cent of this market. The report suggests that this growth will be driven by an increase in the number of health-conscious individuals that stood at around 90 million in 2018 and is projected to touch 130 million by 2022.


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