Are you one of those people who are perpetually trying to lose weight? You get some physical activity. Check. You try to eat right. Check. You do not give in to your sweet tooth. Check.

But for goodness sake cannot fathom why you are not seeing results!

There is a lot of help available around us — gyms, dieticians, personal trainers. But if you are anything like this author (who has tried everything), such ‘help’ is not very helpful. Gyms are boring, dieticians make eating mechanical, and personal trainers only work if they are super hot. Kidding. Not.

So where does this leave us?

Exasperated? Disappointed?

Mobile coaching to cut the flab
Talking, chatting, social networking, browsing the internet — our lives revolve around that innocuous looking hand-held device. So a diet coach that lives in that phone and takes us to our goal of losing weight has a chance of working.

Enter Obino, a DIY Android weight loss app that wants you to say no to obesity.

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According to the bootstrapped startup, losing weight is complicated, un-engaging, and experts are expensive and most time inaccessible.

Obino is a coach available at your fingertips 24X7. It has a 4.0 rating from users on Google Play.

obinoSo how does Obino work? On signing up, the app takes in your current statistics (age, weight, height), calculates your BMI (body mass index), takes into account your lifestyle choices, meal preferences, and target goal.

Basis this, it calculates your ideal calorie intake and suggests meals. A user can follow the plan or can add a food item of choice and customise a meal. The app throws calorie counts, helping a user stick to the number of calories she should be devouring. For example, if at tea time, a user can have 180 calories, the app will give various options of what can be eaten in the limited calorie target. A good thing is that the app does not starve or deprive you of your favourite things. It has thousands of calorie-counted Indian meal suggestions and gives you an option to even eat butter chicken or a samosa. Moderation is key here.

A really cool feature of the Obino app is that you can maintain your diet even while eating out. Who said you can only eat unhealthy fried food when you visit a KFC? The app identifies hotels close to you and suggests food from those eateries that are ideal for you and within your calorie count. Next time I visit KFC, I am ordering a wrap.

The app also offers expert diet plans, which is a paid feature. They are customised for pregnant women, working professionals, young mothers, etc.

Obino lets users track their meals and maintain a diary wherein they can input their food intake, exercises done and calories burned, and the amount of water consumed.

Lastly, a very interesting tool is the reminder feature. This constantly throws reminders, as the name suggests, for users to drink eight glasses of water a day, eat their medicines on time and any special food that they are required to eat. A user in a testimonial said, “Your app reminds me of my mother… it’s always reminding me to drink water!”

Where’s the money?
Targeted at men and women in the age group of 28 to 36 who are mobile friendly and weight-conscious, the beta version of the Obino app was launched in April 2014. It has seen 6000 plus downloads so far, with 50 per cent monthly active users and approximately 10 per cent daily active users. The question is — how does it monetise?

While the basic features of the app are free, users can opt for the GOPRO version to get expert advice. It has various monthly plans at INR 299 (US$5), INR 499 (US$8) and INR 599 (US$10) wherein users can avail features such as weekly tele-consult with a dietician, unlimited meal suggestions, newsletters, etc.

“We are seeing a promising conversion rate from users to paying customers,” shares Founder Ritu Srivastava.

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What does not work?
The biggest turn off with the app is that it does not push out meal suggestions at appropriate times, but requires the user to log in every time. This may not work in the long run for many reasons — from sheer laziness to forgetting or losing interest.

Secondly, the food quantity a user can have is not always clear, so sticking to the exact calorie-count is difficult. Same goes for the subjective manner in which foods are prepared in each household.

Lastly, it is tedious to input every detail of food, exercise, water intake to maintain and track your diet.

People behind the coach
ritu srivastava yogesh sachdeva obino
The startup that is currently looking for angel funding was founded by Ritu Srivastava, along with her co-founder Yogesh Sachdeva. It also has diet coach Anuja Jadhav and lifestyle coach Manika Mookerjee on board.Every startup has a story
Founder Srivastava was a skinny 49 kgs all up to her marriage and even at age of 30, just before getting pregnant, she was just 51 kgs. Things changed when she gave birth and had gained 17 kgs.
“Initially, I was convinced that I could lose weight on my own, but I never really did despite trying to eat right and exercise. My efforts were just too sporadic and unfocussed,” she shares.Giving in, she finally joined a dietician and lost seven kgs. Astounded, she dropped out of the programme to see if now – armed with just a little more knowledge and structure – she could lose more. And she did — she lost another 10 kgs.“And that’s when I realised that weight loss was not as difficult as it looked from the outside.When I went back to the workplace, I also realised that of everyone who wanted to lose weight, only five per cent took expert help. Everyone else was trying, like me initially, to do it on their own! And that was my inspiration for the app – to create a mobile coach that would help people to lose weight on their own,” explains Srivastava, who is often accused of launching the app solely for herself!

The offline space is super crowded with slimming centers, gyms, personal trainers and dieticians, but the mobile space is wide open. “Our only competitors are Indian calorie counter apps, which are not doing well at all in India. Indians don’t like to calorie-count!,” she says.

Going forward
The focus in the coming 12 months will be to increase user base and continue looking for funding.

Obino aims to become India’s preferred weight loss destination.“From tools to lose weight, to expert assistance, to buying products and accessories needed to assist the weight loss process, we want to become the first destination that anyone looking to lose weight hits,” signs off Srivastava.