In 2012, Tushar Vashisht, Mathew Cherian, and Sachin Shenoy launched HealthifyMe, a digital health and wellness app designed to help users shed the pounds and get active. Operating from a freemium model, the platform offers users the opportunity to monitor and track their daily calorie intake, get personalized advice from a team of professionally qualified nutritionists and fitness experts, find local gyms, and even shop for healthy food from HealthifyMe's partner apps. Since its inception, it's grown to become India's largest and most popular fitness app. It's also begun to make inroads globally - having already rolled out in Malaysia and Singapore, it now plans to take on the rest of Southeast Asia and even tackle the fiercely competitive North American market. To find out more, read on for 20 things you didn't know about HealthifyMe.
1. Its founding CEO is Tushar Vashisht
HealthifyMe's founding CEO is Tushar Vashisht, a 36-year-old graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who began his career as a corporate finance analyst on Wall Street. After enjoying success with Deutsche Bank, Vashisht made an abrupt right turn in 2009 when he returned to India to join Nandan Nilekani's Aadhaar project, a government-backed scheme that aimed to issue a unique identification number to every Indian national. While working there, he met Mathew Cherian (who would become his co-founder at HealthifyMe), along with several early investors in the company and a number of future HealthifyMe employees.
2. It was inspired by its founder's weight gain
When Vashisht returned to India, he was fit, healthy, and slimline. A few months later, his love for Indian cuisine had packed on the pounds to the tune of 18kg. Determined to stop the weight gain in its tracks, he started searching out apps that could keep track of just how many calories he was putting into his mouth each day. He found a bunch, but they all had one big problem in common: they were all designed for a western diet. If he tried plugging in any of the Indian ingredients and dishes he ate on a typical day, the apps came back with nothing. Recognizing the need for something to fill the gap, he put his thinking cap on and came up with the idea for HealthifyMe.
3. It launched in 2012
After spotting the gap in the market for a health app geared to the Indian diet, Vashisht teamed up with his friend and colleague Mathew Cherian to set his idea into motion. They started by making an Excel sheet with a list of foods and their corresponding calorific values. After that, they began working on the software to support the information. Soon after, former Google engineer Sachin Shenoy entered the scene as a co-founder and head of engineering. By 2013, they were ready to take the app public.
4. It was named as one of the best apps of 2015
It may have taken HealthifyMe a little while to find its audience, but by 2015, it was rocking and rolling, and not only with its customer base. That year, Google Play Store doffed its hat to the company by awarding its app a "Top Developer" badge. It also named it to its list of the "Best Apps of 2015."
5. It's bringing wellness to the masses
Three years after its launch, the HealthifyMe website had racked up over 400,000 visitors, making it the most visited health website in India. Determined to use its popularity for the greater good, the company partnered up with Godrej Nature's Basket, Manipal Hospitals, Medanta and Apollo Centre to launch HealthifyIndia, a campaign that intended to create awareness of lifestyle disorders and extol the virtues of healthy living. According to dnaindia.com, HealthifyMe invested Rs100 crores into the campaign, which allowed users to log onto the website and access Rs 300 worth of calorie tracking software, vouchers for healthy foods worth Rs 300, vouchers for free health screenings and medical checkups, and hundreds of health articles for free.
6. It's raised over $100 million in funding
In May 2015, HealthifyMe announced it had closed its pre-Series A round on an undisclosed sum from a number of individual investors. The following spring, it raised $6 million in Series A funding from investors that included IDG Ventures, Inventus Capital Partners & Blume Ventures. The most recent funding round in July 2021 closed on $75 million. The round was led by LeapFrog and Khosla Ventures. According to crunchbase.com, the company has now raised a total of $100.1 million since inception.
7. It expanded into Southeast Asia in 2018
In 2018, HealthifyMe decided the time was ripe to expand its operations. It began its global rollout in Malaysia. Within the first month alone, it had over 15,000 subscribers. Buoyed by its success, it began exploring new territories, first in Indonesia and the Middle East and later in Singapore and Brunei.
8. It launched the world's first AI-powered virtual nutritionist
In 2017, HealthifyMe added a new service to its platform - "Ria," the world's first AI-powered virtual nutritionist. Using knowledge learned from HealthifyMe's 200 million food and workout logs and 10 million message exchanges between coaches and clients, Ria added extra appeal to HealthifyMe's already attractive value proposition, allowing users to ask questions on nutritional and fitness questions, as well as receive personalized recommendations and keep track of their calorie intake and activity levels. "Ria can answer questions around nutrition and fitness via both audio and text. It can do so in more than 10 languages and provides personalized responses based on the users' lifestyle habits. Our vision is to make healthy living accessible for all. Now with AI capabilities, we intend to refine Ria to the point where it can allow us to serve beyond India using qualified nutritionists working from their homes in India but catering to the world," HealthifyMe claimed during the launch. In 2019, Ria, which now handles 80 percent of all user queries, was integrated into Alexa built-in devices and added to Amazon Echo speakers as an Alexa skill.
9. It's always adding new features to its portfolio
HealthifyMe isn't a company that likes to stand still. Ever since its launch, it's attempted to add value to its proposition with the introduction of new features. In 2019, for example, it launched "Ria 2.0", which included a "Snap" feature that allows users to take a photograph of their food rather than inputting the data manually. The company's AI tech then identifies the dish from its bank of 10,000 dishes and advises on the calorie content. It's also launched "Smart Plans" to offer its users a customized diet plan based on their individual health needs and requirements.
10. It's entered the mental wellness space
Health is about more than physical fitness. In 2020, HealthifyMe made the decision to broaden its remit after recognizing that mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health. The result is "HealthifySense," a mental-health-based subdivision of the central site that offers counseling sessions with a psychologist by phone along with access to mental health-focused material.
11. It partnered with Swiggy in 2020
We all know that making wise decisions about our dietary choices is easy enough when we cook our own meals, but all our careful planning and sensible decisions tend to go out the window the moment we look at a takeout menu. Recognizing the need to introduce health to the takeout sphere, HealthifyMe has teamed up with Swiggy, India's largest online food ordering and delivery platform, to allow users to order healthy foods from local restaurants that have been handpicked by nutritionists.
12. COVID has been good for business
Companies across the world were still reeling from the first wave of COVID when the second wave hit. The consequences for most have been devastating. Not so HealthifyMe, though, who credits the increased interest in health and wellbeing inspired by the pandemic with doubling their user base and revenue. According to CEO Vashisht, the company is now on course to achieve $50 million ARR within the next six months. “HealthifyMe has grown fairly quickly, for the reason that pandemic started," he says. "We have now (helped) hundreds of thousands of individuals drop some weight, get more healthy and fitter and scale back their threat for way of life illnesses and Covid mortality. We’re doing about $25 million of income now.”
13. It's planning on further expansion
This July, HealthifyMe received a $75 million cash injection via its latest round of funding. Already, it's got big plans on how it intends to use the money. Speaking to todaysnewnews.com, Vashisht confirmed that he plans to utilize the funds to expand the business' footprint in Southeast Asia, as well as make inroads in North America. “We’re already the market leaders in India and Southeast Asia and by combining AI and human empathy, we are able to ship ends in weight and way of life illness administration at a fraction of the price potential right now.” he confirmed.“Of the $15 million run rate we are doing currently, $2.5 million is coming from outside India. We want to expand more into Southeast Asia.”
14. Its user results are impressive
HealthifyMe hasn't just enjoyed excellent results from a revenue and growth perspective - it boasts equally impressive results from a user perspective. According to its official website, 80 percent of its users have seen a decline in lifestyle disease indicators. A further 50 percent have seen a 15 percent decline in lifestyle disease indicators.
15. It's partnered up with some big-name brands
Since its launch, HealthifyMe has teamed up with numerous brands for campaigns and projects aimed at delivering its healthcare message to as many people as possible. Just a small sample of its corporate and healthcare partners include Accenture, Cognizant, Infosys, Amazon, Philips, P&G, MetLife, Unilever, Coco-Cola, Manipal Hospitals, and Shell.
16. It's one of Google Play Store's best-rated apps
The HealthifyMe app has been earning rewards left, right, and center ever since it launched, claiming Google Play Store's "Top Developer" badge in 2015 and being named among "Best Apps - Made in India" in 2016 and 2017. In 2017, it was awarded Google Play "Editor's Choice" award in the Health & Fitness category. It now enjoys an outstanding 4.6/5 user rating on the site.
17. It operates on a freemium model
HealthifyMe operates on a freemium model, offering basic services free of charge but additional features, including access to personalized nutritional and fitness advice from qualified professionals, via paid subscription.
18. It's helping the vaccine drive
The Covid pandemic has been good for HealthifyMe's business in more ways than one. As republicworld.com highlights, since the vaccine program began rolling out, the company has added a new string to its bow by launching a platform, VaccinateMe, that helps users get vaccinated. The platform, which was launched in collaboration with Cowin and is available on both the website and app, offers real-time information on available slots at local vaccine centers.
19. It hosts an annual tech product event
Each year, HealthifyMe hosts a tech product event in which it shares its vision for the coming year, showcases the newest technology, and discusses its key partnerships and launches. As thenewsminute.com reports, Ignite 2020 was a big year for the event, with the company unveiling a slew of new products and features such as Smart Plans with fitness celebrities, a new fitness discovering and booking app called Fitternity that offers users access to 12000+ gyms and fitness studios across India, and a new partnership with Milkbasket that lets users order healthy groceries.
20. It's moving into corporate wellness
Having cornered the market in personal health and wellbeing, HealthifyMe is now moving into the corporate space. Already, it's doing big business, having secured a long list of clients that include Philips, Cognizant, Unilever, PMC, and General Electric. Promising increased engagement, team-based activities, individual progress reports, and access to personalized coaching and diet and workout plans, the expectations are high - based on the results, it seems to be meeting them. According to HealthifyMe's website, companies that use the platform have reported a 17 reduction in medical costs, a 59 percent improvement in employee engagement, a 50 percent increase in physical activity, and an average weight loss of 4 kg per employee.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee