Back in 2011, Indiagames CEO Vishal Gondal sold his Mumbai-based game-making company to Disney for around US$100 million. Why? Because Gondal started up GOQii, a company focused on creating its self-titled fitness trackers.
What makes this wearable tech stand out from others like Jawbone Up and Fitbit? GOQii fitness bands are given out for free and allows its user to communicate with their personal coach. The band tracks a user’s steps, distance, time, calories, active time and sleep; the data is then shared with the user’s coach, all screened by GOQii.
According to a Business Insider interview, Gondal said that the personal coach should be the user’s fitness ecosystem rather than the device. “I have used every possible fitness band [like Fitbit and Jawbone Up]. While these devices promised to help you get fit, in reality, they didn’t really work for most people.” They’re not effective tools, thus people stop using them within six months.
The GOQii coach ecosystem. Image credit: GOQii
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According to Gondal, the band’s real value comes from a coach who can actively manage a user’s lifestyle, with the band itself being just a tool for communication. The coaches are based in Mumbai, India; GOQii outsources its coaches to keep production and management costs low.
Sustained engagement is GOQii’s tactic in making sure its users keep their bands on. Gondal took what he learned from the gaming industry via Indiagames and brought it to the fitness band market. “Motivation is actually the holy grail when it comes to helping people make a change in lifestyle.” Both to motivate them to workout, as well as being charitable. When a user achieves 390 steps on the tracker, they get one karma point. The points all go toward a charity of a user’s choice.
GOQii makes its money with fees: communicating with your coach for a length of six months cost US$99, while a full year costs US$169. Ultimately though, the GOQii isn’t about making money off of the device, as the band can be integrated with the aforementioned Jawbone Up and other similar fitness bands.
While it’s only available in India, Gondal said that he’s planning to expand reach to other regions soon.