You would probably have heard the story of a boy being forced to marry a dog to ward off bad luck, or of an 18-year-old girl marrying a stray dog as part of a bizarre tribal culture — both in the Indian state of Jharkhand. But you would never ever have heard the story of startup appointing a dog as a co-founder — not to ward off any evil spirits, but just because it is the sole decision-maker whenever there is a dispute between the other two co-founders.
“Arya, the dog, is very much part of our lives,” Devi Prasad Biswal, Co-founder, CEO and ‘Centre Forward’ of SaaS fitness platform Book Your Game (BYG), told e27. “She is a stress buster and is always with us and we take her wherever we go.”
You might be wondering what roles does Arya — whose name was inspired by Arya Stark in Game of Thrones — play in the day-to-day life of the startup and the other two co-founders. “Arya is not just a companion for us. She is more than that. She is a decision-maker at tough times. When there is a dispute, we will leave it to Arya and she comes up with the best decision,” Biswal added.
There have been instances in the past where the co-founders rejected a candidate just because Arya didn’t like the person, Biswal quipped.
What is it and how BYG it is
A B2B2C startup, Bangalore-based BYG aims to make fitness more accessible, affordable, convenient and fun. BYG is a mobile app to connect consumers with fitness centres. It is basically an app, available on iOS and Android platforms, where you can see all kinds of fitness centres and studios around you.
“BYG lets you discover and purchase fitness services from the gyms and fitness centres around you. It provides accessed ratings, telling you the exact quality to expect in a fitness centre, along with completely transparent pricing, making sure you will never have to haggle for prices inside the gym,” explained Biswal.
Unlike other fitness platforms/marketplaces, where you have to take a six-month or one year- membership, BYG makes booking and getting a workout easy. A user can get a workout whenever and wherever he/she wants without committing for a month or year.
“We aim to make sure everyone who wants to keep fit can access a fitness service wherever he/she is, and whichever service he/she wants at a great price. We recently introduced a ‘Workout Now’ service, which gives dynamically priced option to work out for one hour at a great price,” he added.
Users can discover fitness classes like Yoga, Zumba, Spinning, CrossFit, TRX, Functional Training, Aerobics, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Calisthenics, Les Mills, Pilates, Kickboxing, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
BYG charges a 20 per cent commission on every transaction made through the BYG app.
The startup also offers a CRM tool called Pulse to offer details like the number of members, preferred workouts, repeat customers, etc. in a gym. Pulse also helps gyms with member management, schedule management, lead generation and employee management.
BYG was launched in October 2015 by Biswal (CEO) along with Avi Alagathi (COO and ‘Goal Keeper’), whom he met during his stint at Goldman Sachs. The firm has partnered with over 2,500 fitness centres across five cities — Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Bhubaneswar — and has 25,000 consumers, of which 11,000 are monthly users.
It is now planning to reach 5,000 fitness partners by the end of this year. Besides expanding pan India, BYG also plans to conquer foreign markets like Dubai and Chicago.
In May this year, the startup raised US$400,000 from a host of angels, led by Sanjay Verma, former CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, Asia Pacific, and Amit Khanna, Managing Partner of Antuit-Europe.
Another interesting fact is the all the three co-founders live in the office located in the posh Indiranagar areas in Bangalore. On some days, some of its employees also share the rooms with them. The company has a total of 52 staff workers across its five offices in India.
Still wondering if Arya holds any equity stake in the company? “Well, whatever equity I hold in BYG is for Arya,” Biswal concluded.