For almost a decade, Tushar Vashisht has been on a mission to get India fit, healthy and slim via HealthifyMe, a digital health and wellness app that offers everything from workout and diet plans to fitness coaching and calorie tracking. After raising $75 million in the company’s latest round of funding, he now aims to get the rest of the world healthy with his plans for global expansion. Find out more with these ten things you didn’t know about Tushar Vashisht.
1. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania
Vashisht was born into a middle-class family in Karnal, Haryana on 3 April 1985. His mother, Dr. Suneeta Madan, is the daughter of the renowned veterinary scientist and biotechnology researcher, ML Madan. His father, SN Vashish, served as the Director-General of Police of Haryana. After graduating from the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya in New Delhi in 2003, he spent two years at Delhi College of Engineering and Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania to complete his BAS in computer science.
2. He began his career on Wall Street
After graduating college, Vashisht began his career on Wall Street as an intern for BlackRock. He later joined Deutsche Bank as a corporate finance analyst, firstly in San Francisco and later in Singapore. In 2009, he returned to India to join Nandan Nilekani’s Aadhaar project, which was funded by the government in order to give every Indian a unique identification number. While there, he met his HealthifyMe co-founder Mathew Cherian, along with several early investors in the company.
3. His own weight problems inspired HealthifyMe
After moving from New York back to India, Vashisht wasted no time getting stuck into the Indian food he’d missed during his years abroad. Pretty soon, the combination of too much food and too little exercise took its toll on his waistline. After gaining 18kg, he decided it was time to do something about it. He started searching out apps that could help keep track of his daily calories, but soon realized they were all aimed at western dishes, meaning he had no way of knowing the nutritional data or calories of any of the Indian dishes he ate. It was that realization that led him to come up with the idea for HealthifyMe.
4. He launched HealthifyMe in 2012
After deciding India was sorely in need of an app that would help get the country fitter and healthier than ever before, Vashisht teamed up with Mathew Cherian to launch HealthifyMe in 2012. According to Wikipedia, they started by creating an Excel sheet of foods with their calorific values before building software for it. Within a year of establishing the company, Sachin Shenoyhad hopped on board as a co-founder and head of engineering. In 2013, the HealthifyMe app was released on Android, with an IOS app following shortly after. It was an instant sensation, earning the Google Play Store’s “Top Developer” badge in 2015 and a mention on the “Best Apps of 2015”.
5. He’s raised $100 million
This July, HealthifyMe raised $75 million in a Series C round of funding led by LeapFrog and Khosla Ventures. Other participants included HealthQuad, Unilever Ventures, and Elm, along with current investors Chiratae Ventures, Inventus Capital and Sistema Asia Capital. According to crunchbase.com, the startup has now raised a total of $100.1 million since its launch.
6. He lived on ₹ 32 a day
In 2011, Vashisht engaged on an experiment alongside his HealthifyMe co-founder Mathew Cherian to live on just 32 rupees per day, the minimum amount the Indian Planning Commission claimed was enough income for an individual not to be considered poor. The aim of the experiment was to gain a greater understanding of the harsh realities of life being faced by millions of Indians across the country. As The New York Times reports, the pair lost nine and four pounds respectively, and both complained of dizziness and depression from a lack of food. By the end of the project, they’d reached the conclusion that ₹ 32 was insufficient and that ₹ 120 a day would be needed to lift people out of poverty. After describing the experience as “humbling,” Vashisht said he planned to live on an average Indian’s income one day a week for the rest of his life.
7. He’s a trained musician
According to Hindustan Times, Vashisht has been learning and singing music since the age of six, and even trained in Hindustani Classical for years. Between 2005 and 2007, he was a member of the A cappella group Penn Masala. His self-penned composition, “Pehchaanm” was featured on the album ” America’s Best of College A Capella.”
8. He credits COVID with helping business
While most businesses have been devastated by COVID, HealthifyMe is one of the few that’s actually benefited from the pandemic. Since 2020, the market for digital health and weight has grown astronomically, with the result that HealthifyMe’s user base and revenue has doubled. The app has now hit 25 million downloads, and Vashisht is confident that the company will hit $50 million ARR within the next six months. “HealthifyMe has grown fairly quickly, for the reason that pandemic started,” he says. “We have now (helping) hundreds of thousands of individuals drop some weight, get more healthy and fitter and scale back their threat for illnesses and Covid mortality. We’re doing about $25 million of income now.”
9. He’s got big ambitions for the future
Following HealthifyMe’s latest $75 million cash injection, Vashisht has some big plans for the future. Speaking to todaysnewnews.com, the CEO confirmed that he intends to use the funds to further expand in India and Southeast Asia, as well as to begin chipping away at the North American market. “We’re already the market leaders in India and Southeast Asia and by combining AI and human empathy, we are able to ship way of life illness administration at a fraction of the price 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.”
10. He’s got a blog
If you’re interested in learning more about Vashisht’s journey from Wall Street to HealthifyMe, you can. The CEO has a personal blog on which he shares his thoughts on everything from start-ups and business to music and life. In fairness, it’s been a few years since he published anything… then again, running one of India’s most successful start-ups probably doesn’t leave him with much time for writing.