Jitendra Chouksey - Founder and CEO, Fittr

Jitendra Chouksey - Founder and CEO, Fittr

We are kicking off a brand new series called Founder Series. Here at Founder Series we will be calling founders , CEOs and builders who have created world class businesses and deep dive into them.

My guest for today is Jitendra Chouksey. JC is a first-generation entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of Fittr, a community-driven online health and fitness platform. He took a simple idea of helping his friends and family get fit over WhatsApp and Facebook, and turned it into a 100-million-dollar enterprise. Today, Fittr has trained and transformed more than 200,000 people around the globe, provided jobs to over 600 people, and has democratized fitness. With a community spanning over 104 countries and 2.5 million people, Fittr is one of the hottest Indian startups backed by the likes of Suniel Shetty and Sequoia Capital. JC’s vision of the community stemmed from his intent to offer a safe and judgement-free environment for people. He aims to transform over 50 million people and create 100,000 jobs through Fittr. A winner of the BusinessWorld Young Entrepreneur Award 2020, JC is a certified Sports Nutritionist from International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and has an Engineering degree in IT.

For this episode I am also joined by my co founder, Mihir Patki who is very passionate about nutrition in same way as investing. He has been one of the early believers in Fittr as well.

This episode is brought to you by multipie.co where we believe Investing is an ignored life skill. Multipie is building up a platform where people can form communities and learn, share , collaborate on growing their wealth using the right tools. We want your hard earned money to work for you

Show notes:

0:00 - Introduction

2:31 - JC's life journey

9:01 - Why JC did not like Y Combinator?

11:36 - How Fittr stayed profitable even after giving sharing secret sauce in public?

13:45 - Culture development in Fittr community?

15:53 - Fittr's exploration in mental health and kids' fitness

17:54 - Transformation challenges between TC1 and TC13

20:14 - JC's hacks to change anyone's life

22:24 - Ups and Downs in Fittr's journey.

26:02 - How did JC imbibe rich culture in Fittr community?

29:08 - JC's early team and co-founders

36:52 - Suniel Shetty's impact on JC's life

40:02 - What will Fittr do with series A funds?

44:26 - Important numbers, metrics and future goals of Fittr

46:37 - Bursting myths about fitness

47:58 - Quick game on parallel between Investing and fitness

55:57 - JC's personal investing plans

59:04 - JC's advice for his 20-year-old self

Transcript

Raj 01:49

Hey, JC. Welcome to the show. 

Jitendra 1:53

Hi, thank you so much for having me here. It's a pleasure to be here. 

Mihir 1:58

So JC, it's an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast. And it's also a fanboy moment for me on the personal side. The fittr community has helped me become fit, but more importantly, it's taught me a way of life. It's taught me some universal truths and principles, which I have applied to other fields where also I have seen positive results. What you have built is truly phenomenal and me as well as our listeners are very eager to your move. So, with that, let's get started. 

Jitendra 2:28

Sure. 

Raj 02:30

Thanks, Mihir. JC, I read that you grew up in a small place in the MP and I also grew up in a small town called Bhilai which used to be an MP. But now part of Chhattisgarh. So, we have some commonality between us. I found your life journey very interesting and very inspiring. So, we would like to know more about your life journey. I think that you were kind of a fat kid while growing up and you also started your career as an engineer. So, tell us more about JC prior to fitter, you know, what brought you into the fitness? 

Jitendra 03:09

Right. So, you are right that I was fat. When I was a kid and I was often picked up by my friends in school and you know, they tease me, you know in regard to what I was wearing, because my pants would be like. I would try to, you know where the super tight pants, but obviously they wouldn't make me look smaller, right?  So, they'd make that that make fun of how I was dressing and you know, obviously they would make fun of every time I was eating something that I could not hang off for diet and all those things. Right. And so, I think it was when I was in class 8th, there was one friend, now I consider him as a well-wisher. He told me why you don’t stop eating this nonsense and go ahead and join a gym or something. And I think that's, that's when my fitness journey started, I went to a gym. And then, by that time, we had moved from the village to the small-town community, which is where my family stays now. So, there was a gym, small gym. It was like an underground sort of gym underneath the building. And so, I joined the gym. It was like 80 or a hundred rupees a month. And back then it used to be a lot of money. So, yeah, joined and I saw these guys who were very build, you know, they were, they were exercising. I think, I just got intrigued about the whole thing.

So, even though I didn't get fit, I got into the habit of going to gym, and you know, doing some weight training and I continued doing that throughout my professional life. And today I think I've been going to the gym or working out for almost 20 plus years. I graduated as an engineer in a nearby college which was very near to where we stayed and from there, I did my education. I graduated from there and then you know, move to couple of different cities. I started with Pune actually, and then spend about eight years in IT. And I think before I moved back, I was in Bangalore, working at IBM. That's when I picked up some bad habits like smoking, drinking you know, how the IT culture has typically you take breaks and by the time you realize, everybody around you is smoking and then you're like, sure, why not? And then you get caught up in that. Right?

So, when I left IBM, I moved to Pune, and around the same time I came to know that I'm going to be a father. And that's when I took her as all that. I'm wanting to be a fit father for my daughter. I want to be an example for her. And I quit everything, like in one day I just quit. And then I started getting back to my fitness journey once again. And this time I didn't stop it by just getting fit and I took part in some competitions. There was an SMTB fitness challenge that what was going on? So, I participated in that. “Fit Factor”, which was a body power event and then took part in Muscle Mania. And then I think I was also featured, and this was all happening back-to-back. And I think I was getting some traction on social media because people are looking at my pictures and they wanted me to you know, help them get fit and so we created a small WhatsApp group where these friends and, you know, people from social media, they started asking me if I could help them you know, get fit. So that's, that's actually where it all started, 2013. And from WhatsApp, we moved to Facebook where we started with the larger discussions where people thought that I was qualified enough to answer some of their questions, and we just happened to burn around some of the great questions about future of fitness and how this industry is moving along. How we can fix some of the things and the industry. And then we realized this idea that how about instruct me training people? And I used to train people for free because it was like passion and that I didn't want to train people for money.

Even though a lot of people wanted me to personally train them, So I thought instead of me training people, because first of all, I don't enjoy training for money. What if I educate people? And then these people who I am educating, they can train people. They can take some money and we'll keep the entire education bit free. So that way we'll also democratize fitness, but also if somebody is genuinely looking for some sort of guidance the personal trainers, personal coaches will also have like a decent job, you know, it wouldn't be like typical jobs in the gym where trainers are exploited. They have to wake up at 4:00 AM in the morning, open up the gym and.

We launched a portal called squadstart in 2016. And we were an immediate hit. We were profitable. We launched with 14 coaches and by the end of 2016, we almost clocked $1 million in revenues. So, dream kind of a start-up. And then we reinvested everything back into the company, continued to grow bootstrap for about four and a half years.

We got selected for Y Combinator in 2019 in December for their winter 2020 Batch. Right. So, I'm went there. And I didn’t like what I see or what I saw. Quit it in three weeks and came back to India and then Sequoia thing happened. They ended up writing a small check of about $2 million for the break. And back then we were, we were doing about 5 million in Europe. Last year. We clogged at about 9.3 and this year we on track to do about a 20 and we've just closed our series A. So yeah. 

Raj 09:00

That's a really an awesome journey. And so, you know, I would love to talk more about that YC bit more because you mentioned you didn’t like it, because it’s a very popular programs globally and also more about the fitter journey in general. Right? So, you know, you've done an amazing growth from, you know, whatever five crore to, to whatever 20 million right now, and probably going to, you know, a hundred million very soon. Well, let's talk more about the YC and the fitter journey. 

Jitendra 09:30

I think we were too mature for YC. YC is a great place by the way. You know the first couple of weeks for interesting, we got presented to a lot of people, like Airbnb founder, like founder freedev, and I think more such people. I know more interesting people. For that YC was very good. It felt like, you know, I was amongst a lot of other people like me, but I think because we were a lot more mature and we were profitable and we were not really trying to impress investors. I just felt the whole vibe about YC was about you know, impressing investors on demo day and then just raising funds, right? It wasn't about addressing the fundamental questions. About your business. It wasn't about fixing them. Right. Which is what I found largely interested in search and a I have to say that search kind of opened my eyes. And if it wasn't for search programs, we wouldn't be where we are right now.

YC is extremely immersive. It's really, really groundbreaking. And the kind of mentorship that I received there; it changed my entire perspective on entrepreneurship. It basically explains basic fundamentals, which I knew in my heart all along. And when they retreated those principles, I was like, okay. That's why probably it worked. And this is why I probably, you know, why some other people out there are struggling because they're probably searching for some sort of a magic mourn and there isn't fun. You know, it's all about the basics of business. It's about, you know, a win-win situation for everybody, for, you know, your customers, for people within the organization for your partners, for your stakeholders and all it requires us just a little bit of creativity. And if you're not able to do that, then you're probably being a little lazy at that. That's all that's all about YC. I think that also made me far more disciplined than I was originally, so yeah.

Mihir 11:35

So, JC there are a lot of dieticians, nutritionists, et cetera, for whom the business model is you give out a plan for two weeks so that your customers come back to you two weeks later. And that's the way the business keeps running. Fitter has sort of flipped that on its head. You give up a secret sauce upfront. I used to be part of the Facebook group and you know, the first thing everyone used to write was follow the process. And that used to be read, get shredded, right? So, you give out the secret sauce upfront. Yet you are profitable, and this is very counter-intuitive. So how does that work?

Jitendra 12:10

One way or the other. I think, you live in a world where secrets always come home and there's no point hiding secrets. It's always like you just have to be creative. And if you're not being creative, if you're not creating a win-win situation, it just means that you're mentally lazy. I figured that back then everybody is trying to hide everything. And I said, look, this is the thing that's going to make us stand out from everybody else, and when nobody was telling the science behind fitness, I said, this is exactly what we need to do, because this is what people don't know right now. And if they don't know this right now, how are they going to make the right decision? Because even after people paying money and you know, taking part in these programs, they were getting fit. Sure, but they were not staying fit. So, the idea which separated fittr from anybody else was You can get fit, we'll teach you how to stay fit. And it was all about behavioral training. You know, nobody gets fit by following an act for three months. It's the habit, it's the behavior. It's the education that we impart, which allows you to understand the process.

Now I'm pretty sure that today you are fairly confident that even if you get a couple of pounds, you know how to lose them. Right? you know how to go to a calorie deficit? You know how to quantify macros? You know how to read a packet. This is what fitness is all about. That's what fittr is all about. It's about empowerment. you know, so we empower him and that was what was missing from the game. 

Mihir 13:45

So, did you see every fitter coach and every dedicated member of fittr speaks the same language and by language? I don't just mean the content, but I mean, the intent, the politeness with which people talk, the high-quality responses that they give to other questions, how did you imbibe this DNA, amongst all of the members?

Jitendra 14:07

I think there was a gradual process. You know, people have aspirations, people have desire, and you just have to guide them to what towards what they want most and in a way, which is sustainable. You know, and I think, I always believe that leading by example is going to be one of the biggest challenges. Also, one of the biggest factors in determining if this thing becomes a success because tomorrow I can't wake up and tell my coaches, say, you guys have to be fit. If I'm not keeping myself fit, I can’t tell somebody that, hey, by getting physical fit, you're also becoming mentally fit, socially fit, or financial fit. If I can’t see those changes in myself. So, I believed in showing those things. You know, you see me as an individual, you probably think, okay, this guy's fit, hit is financially fit, very socially fit and mentally fit. now let me follow him. So that's the same thing, which we taught our coaches also. you know, the coaches learn from me and then I want the coaches to teach their customers and clients. 

Eventually, when some of those clients become coaches, you know, they'll further teach. So, it's, it's very simple concept which comes from the ancient biblical concept, right? Where the student becomes the teacher and the parampara goes on. So, it's a simple concept: you imbibe your qualities, you pass it on to the coming generation and the whole change has continued.

Mihir 15:38

JC, much like in investing the process is simple. But it's not easy. It requires a lot of dedication and like every fittr member seems to show that dedication, which is absolutely amazing to see. you spoke about mental health. So, you know fittr has now evolved onto other issues like kids’ fitness, mental health, et cetera. Could you talk a little about that journey? 

Jitendra 16:02

We are still in an exploratory phase, and one of the things that we have been extremely careful about was that whenever we are going to do something, it should make an impact. It should be something we try to absolutely sure about and mental wellness has been one of those initiatives around which maybe delaying a little bit because we have counsellors, we have counsellors worldwide. We have gone through different kinds of program curriculums worldwide, but unlike the fitness curriculum that we have right now, which is you follow the process and there are some quantifiable measurable outputs, you know, and based on these outputs, one can determine if this program was actually a success, if it was BS, right.

We have not been able to quantify. The whole mental wellness side of things. So, we are still working with our team. We are working with different researchers who can, who can sort of creating some sort of you know, output-based measurable metric, which the users can measure. So, when they come to us and when they enrolled for a mental wellness program, after 12 weeks, there should be something which, which we can measure. It shouldn't be just limited to one’s feelings. It should be something which could be quantified. So that's where it is. In terms of kid fitness, I think be we are running POC. Parents are really excited. We will continue to run the POC. Could we have a much larger system in place? So, yeah. 

Mihir 17:29

Well, I think that's something which is needed. As a father of a six-year-old. I see how all kids’ food is just labelled with sugar. The, you know, like all the vitamins from A to Z are just listed out on the label, but the quantities are minuscule. So, this is an area where I think there's a lot of disruption to happen. And I will be very happy to see fittr do that. So, let's talk a little about the transformation challenge. So, from TC1 one to the current edition, I think it has gone a massive, massive upgrade in terms of number of participants, the prices, et cetera. So how has that journey evolved?

Jitendra 18:13

I think when we started back in 2016, that's when the transformation challenge 1 happened. I think 2015 or 2016, I don't remember exactly, and there were about a 150 odd people who participated in that. And inherently, you know, people have in every chance, and they don't want to stick to a routine. And when you create some sort of an accountability towards the end of it you know, you get something.

I think a healthy competition between people is always needed if you've seen. If you witness history. It’ll tell you that we've always loved a good competition because competitions are a way for us to establish or reestablish our identities amongst the people we live. You know, so competitions are extremely important part of who we are. And I think from TC1 to TC2 to TC3 and now TC13 and 14 we realized that every time we did these competitions, you know, we identified a lot of champions and we identified a lot of people who are furthering the cause that we started out with. So, transformation challenge has now become for us a source of finding these hidden gems, who can champion the cause, you know, so first it was one JC. Now we have like hundreds of people like me, and I think transformation challenge is kind of also like a test you know. it's not just a test of your physical strength, but mental strength. It tests you and anybody who can surpass the physical and mental limitations in a matter of 12 weeks, and then ends up coming in top 50, top hundred. those guys whether they win the challenge or not, I'm pretty sure they are going to do amazing, amazing things in their lives, you know, because they have everything what it takes to be a successful person in life. 

Raj 20:13

Yeah. So, JC, you know discipline and habits are always very important parts to bring any change in anybody's life. Right. And when I'm sure that has been very important, well, more important in bringing the physical transformation, which you guys work on, what are the, you know, certain hacks or razors you recommend for doing that?

Jitendra 20:36

I think one of the things is that everybody should have a larger goal, a larger vision. And that's extremely important because if you lose sight of the big picture, sometimes it's very easy to get caught up in a rut. And the more you go at a micro level the more you get caught up and certainly you'll have people who are extremely busy doing things which don't even matter. Right. So, it's really important for you to rise above the jibber-jabber, the daily rut, and see exactly what is it that you're looking for. See exactly where you want to be in life. What's the kind of legacy you're going to leave behind for your kids, for family? If that's financial health, if it's physical health, if it's mental health, social health you know, what's the end? Where would you see yourself? Not five years down the line, but probably you know, minutes before you're about to die. So, that's the kind of long-term picture I want everybody to envision and, and I think that helps a lot because then you're not worried about small setbacks either. Because no matter what I do today, or what kind of failure I Exhibit or experience today? It's probably not going to matter in the next five years, forget 50 years. I wouldn't even remember. Right. So, so I think that prepares you for a much larger challenge. Mentally, once you are prepared for these large challenges, I think we, these smaller challenges, like a three-month transformation challenge becomes a lot easier. And at the end of it, because you are physically and mentally tougher, you know, it's always worth it.

Raj 22:22

Yeah. So, you know, any entrepreneurial journey has its own ups and downs, right? You go through many phases; you experiment a lot of things. You, iterate a lot of things. So, what are some other things you experimented with Fittr? You know, some which clicked some, which didn’t click.

Jitendra 22:41

Right. So, I think a fairly recent example, you know, we’ve always been a word of mouth, kind of a company. And we have never done marketing before. I think recently we started doing some marketing and I'm not happy how it happened. And so now.  I don't understand marketing, and I don't think anybody in our company understands marketing. So, let's take a pause. And, and we'd probably start doing marketing once we really understand what it is all about. Because I don't think we are communicating the right kind of message. Nor it is helping us grow in any manner. Right. So that, that was like a example of how, how we make decisions.

What we have also done is that we have acknowledged that we are not going to marry our failures. Like we will fail and then we learn and recover quickly and then just move onto the next thing. Right. Similarly, when we I think there was only 2017, 2018 and when we were doing extremely well, we decided that we'll go and extend our services in an offline model because in the community, a lot of people are making repeated requests that Hey, online is great, but sometimes, you know, people don't connect so easily with online and it would be great if you guys can have some sort of offline presence, we started opening up centers. We did open up 14 centers. They started doing well, but we also realized that they were highly people-centric. So some centers did extremely well by some centers for suffering, right. And we tried to fix that problem for a while, but then we realized, look, if it's a people problem it's not going to be easy. And we'd probably infused a lot more capital and we burnt a lot more money before it goes anywhere. And then we looked at our online model and we said, look, why should we do anything else? this thing is working. We just focus back on this. So we switched all our attention back on it. We shut down all the centers, luckily before the pandemic happened. So, Yeah. I think that was that was a good decision. 

Then back in 2017, we also launched a website called Wolfpack, which was into apparels. It was profitable from day one, because we had a huge community. It also had a lot of pull because of the entire run and the community around it, but I think it was too taxing and it was just not worth it, and the kind of business that we were doing in fittr Versus the kind of amount and time we were spending here, it was just not worth it. I said, this is a good idea. Let's park it for future. When we have enough people to run it and back in 2016, I think we were just 10, 15 people who were running an entire thing and it was just becoming too difficult to manage so many things at once. So, we parked that idea. So, it's like a lot of things, which we learned some of the things we carried forward, like PT, which we launched immediately after pandemic, that was a hit and the PT services have grown dramatically in the six months we have experienced over 100% growth.

Raj 26:01

Interesting. We've spoken in bits and pieces on the whole community angle. And you mentioned about that very clearly. You guys have a very strong and growing community. you know, you guys talk about values, trust, transparency, and accountability. You know, these words are always easier to say, but very difficult to actually imbibe. How do you guys, you know, get that imbibed into the whole culture of the company, into your community.

Jitendra 26:29

I think these words are like you rightly pointed out, they are extremely difficult to follow through at a lower level. But I think once you get to a position of accountability, once you get to a position of respect you don't have any choice. Because people expect a certain kind of behaviour and I can't just go out, you know, and announce to the world that look. I'm a guy who's got money in the bank. I'm a guy who’s got following. So, I'm just going to do whatever the hell I want. I can't do that because I'm a responsible individual, you know, and people look up to me. It's not just about me anymore.

The reason I'm here is because I've done certain things in my life, in a right manner. And any kind of mistake can just throw me down in that same bet, you know, where I came from. So, you just become more and more mindful, just become more and more thoughtful. And I think the more you grow in life, it's all about you, your connections with people and who they think you really are. For example, if I'm talking to Mihir and Mihir talks to me and I say something, and then I go back and say something else to somebody else. And if I'm not being consistent in what I've been doing and what I've been saying, this is probably not the right guy. Right? And at a lower level, you have a lot of people, you know, once you get to some position, you have comparatively a smaller number of people as you keep rising higher, higher. The, the circle is even closer, you know, so everybody knows everybody. Like for example there are you know, a handful of companies we are which are probably at a stage where we are now, and so it's a handful of people and they're all going through the same thing. So, trust, accountability and word of mouth. It plays a very, very big, very big. And I can’t just stress enough on this point that at the end of the day, nobody's going to invest in your best. new investors or anybody for that matter. You know, even if you're talking to somebody who's in a much, much respectable position. The only reason they have decided to talk to you is not because of the background you've come from, but the person you have become. Or what others have been saying about you. Right? So that's what it is all about. You have to lead your life with integrity, ethics, and just have to do it even if it seems extremely difficult and there's no choice.

Raj 29:06

Yeah, I completely agree with you. Well, let's, let's talk more about your team and your co-founders. You know, I was listening to one of your podcasts and heard some of your co-founders left and they tried doing a venture which failed. So, do you want to talk more about your team and other cofounders?

Jitendra 29:21

Right. So, my core team originally started was a filled with Bala and yeah, there were a couple of more people and I'll address them in a minute. So Bala is one of the oldest members of the team then, I was joined by Rohit who was a community member. And Bala also was in US and was actually working in Ford motors at that time. And we just met through a fittr community. I was answering some questions and he was interested and then I saw he started answering some questions. So you know, the trust was built. And then I was like, okay, this is a cooler guy because I'm helping the community members. He's helping the community members, started talking. And surprisingly I think around September, October when we were we were doing our first connect which is a flagship annual event. I give a call to Bala. I said, Bala, this is becoming too difficult. Why don't you quit your job and come here? And he didn't think, like he said, okay, fine. And so, he came, he left his job. We came here even though you know he was making much more money there. He was living a much more you know, enjoyable life, but I told him, and that was the kind of trust act we had immediately. And this was, I think my second call to him before that we had never spoken on. I think once I spoke to him was when he had some sort of a personal emergency and he called me up and he told me that there was some emergency, and this was a second call. 

Then Rohit was working with this co-founder at a factory in Bhilai. And he's a hustler. His had left him when he was 19 years old with a huge pile of debt. So, he made a name for himself by you know, building with his friends and family members. And I think he got interested in for the community after he read my book, and then he transformed. So, from a pot belly to six-pack abs, and he became a heart-end follower. He would often message me and say, JC, you know, what you guys are doing is really amazing. Why don't you just give me an opportunity to work with you guys. I'm working here in black, but it's not that kind of work I wanted to do. I want to be with you guys because what you're doing is really exciting. And I think I jokingly told him. Yeah, sure. Why don't you come to Pune and we’ll figure out? He came and he stayed in Viman nagar for a couple of months, he would come first thing in the morning and shoot the entire office and I'll take care of everything. He would always be the guy who'd hang around with me even when everybody would leave and he'll discuss the plans, he’d always asked me to say, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? And I think. We bonded very naturally.

When my co-founder left, not Bala, there was this one more guy. I don't want to take his name. He wasn't really the co-founder like me Bala and there were a couple of others who were the co-founders. They are still in the company, but he was more of a community member, and he was very educated. So, he came in. He said, look, I can help you guys with finances and doing all the accounting and all that stuff. So that's how he became part of the company. But when they decided to branch out and they started to create their own company we were left with nobody with that kind of a brain to manage the accounting and all those things. It was like tons of tons of Excel sheets and documents, and you know, information. I think it was just me and Rohit who sat throughout nights, three days straight, and fixed all the things and, and we were a growing business. Right. So, I think after that, I realized it that he's the real deal and no matter what the garden's not going to leave me. So, then he became, we became really close and he's the director in the company is still there.

Sonal graduated from LSE and she worked in some rural parts of India as, as part of our mission. And back then you know, this is what she says that she always wanted to, grow up into a person who would change the world or do something amazing. And she grew up in Canada, but she always wanted to come back to India. She did come back after marriage, and then I think she was participating in this Mrs. Asia Universe contest. And I think somebody told her that she could reach me, and I could train her. And yeah, so I drained her and then she eventually won her title, and we were looking for speakers for connect. So, I pinged her and asked her if she could come and be one of the guest speakers and she agreed. So, when she came here and that was her time and my earlier co-founder and all these guys, they decided to split off. I just asked someone if she were going to be involved in this process, the whole financial and the accounting, and because she came from a rich background when she was working at Deloitte in London. So, she took over and she has been with the company ever since. And so even today she is head of finance, head of compliance, strategic investments around everything. Jyoti, there was a really interesting story. So, it was March, 2016. I could have blank on. And then I call back and there's this lady on the phone and she's like my name is Jyoti and I run this blog and I've seen you guys, you've built a good group, and I want to write articles for your blog. I said, okay, cool. But we won't be able to pay you. We'll pay you a 10,000 INR monthly. She said, yeah, that's fine. I don't want plenty. I just want to write; I just want to be part of this. And it was much later I realized that she was IIM graduate, and she has her master's from a reputed university, and she was working at City, London. And she had decided to quit her job to do something on her own. She was writing articles. I think I gave her responsibility for squats academy back then. She grew it into a business and today he has built one of the largest education and study roots in the country having trained 26,000 plus professionals.

So yeah, and that's how all of us met. 

Raj 36:15

That's a really actually interesting that, you know, you guys all met apart from Jyoti through your work while they were part of the community, or you were like some, you know, sort of your training and they're actually very incredible to form, by the way, did you mention Rohit is from Bhilai?

Jitendra 36:32

Yeah, Rohit is from Bhilai, 

Raj 36:34

That's my hometown. I grew up there.

Jitendra 36:38

You probably know him then. 

Raj 36:40

No, I'm from a different genre, so probably I may not, but yeah, I still visit there, like four or five times a year. So yeah, that's something close to me. Before, I'll talk about you know, surgeon and I'll also talk about your recent funding, which you just mentioned.

I want to talk about Sunil Shetty. And he is one of your backers. So, you want to talk more about it? 

Jitendra 37:06

I think it is one of the most amazing persons I've met and he's a lot like what you have seen him in movies. Right? Easy. His movie life is no different from his real life. He's a same kind of person. If you've seen his movie border movie, that's him. And that's how scary and that's how charismatic, and that's how amazing he is. He is like six feet tall walks like a proper don. And but you know, like when you are in his presence, you feel very inspired. That's how I want to grow 60. But it’s crazy. He's competing with us. He is like, JC my competition isn't with anybody else I'm going to beat you. So, you know, he's just one of the most inspiring people I've ever met in my life. I think he's a lot like me or I would say I'm like him. He is impulsive. And he's very passionate about fitness and I think our team was doing transformation wars. It was a reality series we did for YouTube back in 2017. And I said, why don't we take it a level up and started following somebody. So, I sent a teaser. These are one of my team members in the teaser to Karan who was handling and managing on that at that time. Right. And I think after seeing that teaser, instead of, and not saying anything, he just said, I just wanted to meet these guys. And when I met him, what started off as a discussion of whether we can have him as a part of transformation wars. He said let me just walk with you all. And I think he has been extremely, extremely lucky for us. And not that we have done any sort of ads as mentioned anything. He's just like there, you know, like an angel every now and then he'd call me, ask me to see what's going on and how you guys doing, do you need any help? You know, and he keeps guiding. Because he’s seen that journey, right? She doesn't come from extreme rich family. He made a name for himself coming from a very humble background. And so, I think he's like there, he's guiding me at every step of the way. And he like, just, you know, you're at this place, this is what's going to happen. So, he's kind of, how do you say, he's there as a father figure? So, I just like having him on a lot. He is an amazing guy.

Raj 39:58

That's incredible. So, you know, you mentioned some of the numbers and I want to talk a little bit more about that. And, you said you just raised a series A and you raised money. What are you going to do with all this?

Jitendra 40:17

I think the fitness market is really evolving and it's now going to be interesting to see how the entire industry shapes up. And I think it's one of the fastest-growing industries, and back then the investors wouldn't listen to us, but now you know, we are being flogged and it's a good thing. The fact that this whole obesity problem has become such a big problem. And that it can't be ignored on top of that. What the pandemic did. It actually changed the entire perspective, but it changed the entire narrative about health and fitness and how it can be done online and it is not just limited to offline. And I think that has opened up a Pandora's box and that has now created a lot more ideas and has created a lot more startups in the industry. So, the industry is in a very interesting phase. Now what we want to do as, because we are already established a position we are already on authority.

Our business model is kind of top of the funnel, right? Because we are education and awareness. Everybody comes after this. So, we would like to continue to be authority in the space by educating and creating more and more awareness. And our primary model is going to be fitness coaching. However seeing how most of the other companies are switching to online model, such as, there’s Netflix, there's Swiggy, there's Zomato. So, there are companies today, which are not just providing a solution, they're altering behavior. And that's exactly what we do. We alter your behavior. We incorporate habits and lifestyle, which eventually results in Weight loss. It's not that you get fit as an outcome of the process, the processes to bring your behavior. So, there are companies that are trying to alter your behavior in a certain manner. We kind of feel like we have the moral authority to change it the other way. Right? So, fight is that. So, if Swiggy and Zomato and other companies are gonna convince you to order delicious food online. Fittr is going to try and convince you. No, don't do that. 

Raj 42:44

I want to say one thing about Netflix and, you know, I really very beautiful line on that, you know, somebody asked Netflix who is our competition? They say our competition is sleep. Competition is not HBO, Disney. My competition is sleep that I want to show more content so that you don't sleep. Sorry, I cut you in between. Please go on. 

Jitendra 43:08

No, no, no. I think that's exactly what we are thinking. And our competition is also, if anything, are actually our friends our actual competition is companies like Swiggy and Zomato. It's not even Netflix, you know, because watching Netflix is probably not going to make you unfit but eating high calorie foods from the outside definitely will. And I think that that penetration is happening at an alarming pace. And it's now penetrating younger generations, which is something which is not kind of acceptable. And again, it's a healthy sport, right? We believe that we have the right team, we have the right people, we have the right mission and vision. So, it's just about putting fire behind everything that we have. And you know, just, hopefully we'll be able to, to change people's behavior and say, look, because I don't remember the last time, I ordered food. I don't even have these apps and I'm perfectly here and you know, hardly and I don't miss them. So, it's not like I'm missing anything from my life. So, it's like, these people are trying to order you to behave in a certain manner. I would like to do it in another way, and this is much better.  

Raj 44:26

So, you want to talk a little bit more about the numbers as well. I mean, the, you mentioned that you were at 20 million ARR you're raising money, and so what are you going to do with the money? What's your target? Like when you see in the next five years? 

Jitendra 44:39

So, we are not at 20 million ARR right now, we are currently at about 16 million, but by the end of the year, we'd probably cover it for, you know, some bad months. Yeah, so that's where we are.

Last year we did close between INFS and fittr at about 10.3, so 9.3 from here and then almost a billion dollars in NFS. So that's what we did there. This year the target is like I said, we do a 20 plus in revenue. And then on top of that the target is also to have at least a thousand plus coaches and PTs you know, onboarding onto the platform. That, apart from that I think the product as it's going a complete overhaul, we are releasing a new version of the app in couple of days from now. That should reestablish our position in the industry. I believe hands down that we'd be able to call this one of the best products for health and fitness out there.

The kind of overhaul that had is gone in the last couple of months. So that is there and think getting the leadership team, the remaining pieces of the puzzle, you know, the product guy, product leader, the community, somebody with behavioral psychology background you know, a lot more people who have been at a series A kind of stage and who have taken companies for IPO because I'm learning as fast as I can. And there's a lot more to learn, but I believe that  if we just get the right kind of people on board who have been there done that I think there's only can be a lot more easier for all of us. So that's the idea, you know, getting the right kind of people, on our team, and then focus on the right product. Eventually, the right sort of marketing and then go full guns blazing. 

Mihir 46:37

From all that discussion around numbers. Let's get down to some fun. So, JC, there are a lot of myths floating out there about fitness or according to you are some of the most ridiculous ones you have heard?

Jitendra 46:52

Yeah, I think this just doesn’t die. The one that's like you can't eat after seven o'clock. Crazy. Then there are certain myths like you shouldn't eat water between the means. Then there are, you know, you can wake up and have your lemon, ajwain, and jeera water to burn fat. There is a huge list. Like women shouldn't lift. So, there's a long list of all these crazy myths out there. 

Mihir 47:31

I have heard somewhere around green tea that you have green tea and you're going to magically lose weight and the history of what you eat just doesn't matter, by the way, it's just the green tea that's going to help you. 

Jitendra 47:42

Yeah, I think there's also this thing. If you eat prashaad, the calories don’t count.

Mihir 47:51

JC, I have been speaking a lot about this to a lot of people that fitness and investing follow the same principles. Okay. So, you know, why don't we play a quick game? You give us a concept around fitness and let me try and give you a counterpart concept, which is similar to that in the investing world.

Jitendra 48:27

Yeah. So, I think physical fitness is not a problem. It's an outcome. It's an outcome of what you do every single day. So, their targets should not be physical fitness. It should be what you're going to do, right. To Your behavior. That's the actual problem that you have to address.

Fitness is going to be an outcome.

Mihir 48:50

I think a very similar concept in investing, creating wealth is an outcome. The things you do for it, which is your routine. Something as simple as a SIP reduces our expenses, increases your savings. Save regularly. Day-by-day use you’ll see your wealth growing.

Jitendra 49.08

Yeah, that's it that's actually perfect, I believe. I think not just investing, I think almost all the things that we hold very close or are important in life. They follow the same sort of principles, you know. It's it says the short-sightedness takes over and people start thinking of outcomes as objective, instead of following the process. Yeah, so my next concept would be, it's a process, right? Like you, you, you don't get unfit in a day, and you are not going to get fit in a day. So, but nobody is bothered about how much time it took them. Becoming an unfit person from a fit person, but everybody is for the border bothered about getting back. they want to do in three days, five days, you know, three months. So, the point I'm trying to make is that it's a process and it's going to take time.

Mihir 50:21

A very similar again, in investing, it's not your losses on one or two days that are going to set you back. You don't go from wealthy to facing huge losses in one or two days, it happens over a period of time. So just keep investing regularly. Follow the process over time wealth will grow.

Jitendra 50:40

Awesome. Yeah. Then again, WHO defines health us not merely an absence of disease, but by the presence of physical, mental, social, emotional, and I like to add financial wellbeing. So, fitness shouldn't be seen in isolation. It should be looked at as one of the founding pillars of a happy and healthy life. I treat, there are four pillars. I see these four pillars. One is physical health, mental health, financial health, and social health. Right? All these pillars are important, and they line the foundation. And if you don't focus on one of the pillars that the growth will be unstable, but if you ignore, more than one or more than two of these, the growth will come down. And so, you should never, never, never try to isolate any of these things. And they all have to go hand in hand 

Mihir 51:38

We also believe in a concept called a financial independence target. We call it a FIT, which is an acronym set up because of our love for health and wealth. All right. So, we say that you achieve financial independence when you don't have to work for money, you work for what you're passionate about. You are not worried about where your next source of income is going to come from

Jitendra 51:59

That's absolutely right. And I think more and more people need to understand that if you keep working for money et cetera, it's not really a good way to live your life. Money has to be an outcome. Fitness has to be an outcome at the processes are more or less the same, you know, you wake up or you take care of your health, or you read up, you exercise, you take care of your loved ones and then you try and solve a problem. And I think by doing this you're, you're taking care of everything: financial health, mental health, physical and social wealth. All of this is to be the outcome of what you do in that single day.

Mihir 52:50

There are so many similarities, like, you know, people would ask is olive oil healthy or is brown rice healthy? similarly in investing world, we have people asking us is XYZ stock good? So, how you would respond to the question on olive oil is, you know, just don't care about whether it's healthy or not. Just look at the CPF profile within your overall macros.

We talk about stocks just don't bother about whether it's good or bad. Does that stock fit into your financial goal plan? Right? Does it into our asset allocation? So, the counterparts of carb protein fat in investing our debt-equity gold. The right mix of this. Continue your focus on that, complete your macros, which you can do by regular investing.

Jitendra 53:37

I think the gold is the protein here. I suppose.

Mihir 53:41

That's a level of a correlation I haven't gotten into, but it's interesting. Maybe, I'll try and correlate CPF individually to debt-equity 

Jitendra 53:51

It’s a building block. Right? As long as the goal is taking care of, the rest of the things can be managed.

Mihir 54:05

I'll tell you one more, very interesting analogy, which I tell people who generally say that you just have a morning walk and you'll be healthy. So, I tell them that when you're walking, you are burning calories just while you do. Yeah. So that's like simple interest. You put money in a bank, you get returned on your FD, right? If you do resistance training, you're not only burning calories while you do it, but because you are accumulating muscle, you get that after once and get interest on interest and further interest on interest, and that's how you see those massive gains. Similarly, resistance training gives you those massive gains. Walking is great, but it can't be the only thing that is great but can't be the only thing.

Jitendra 54:50

Right. What's your advice for people who will keep putting money in FD?

Mihir 54:53

So, I think I’ll just flip the question around for you. What's your advice for people who just do morning walks?

Jitendra 55:04

A little more physical resistance raining, you know.

Mihir 55:11

Yeah. So similarly, you know, it's a little more investment in mutual funds. If you don't want to take equity exposure, do that regularly. options to invest in gold. Just have a good mix of everything. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.

Raj  55:37

Yeah. And then, as you say, a fitness plan is kind of a little bit different for each one. So, investment plan is also different for each one based on your risk profile, based on, you know, what are your goals here? So, you know, it may not be necessarily the same for products are similar, but what person did you allocate to each one? Since we've been talking about investing, I want to come to a personal investing side for you. what's been your personal investing journey so far? How do you plan your finances? I can see the laugh. 

Jitendra 56:14

Okay. Honestly, I've never cared for money much, you know, since I've been a kid know, never really worried about money because, first of all, I've never had those kinds of needs, but I need money. I'm the kind of the guy who can manage. So that's how I built myself, but I've been lucky that since I have founded fittr even before fittr, I think since I've I joined IT, luckily, I didn't have to worry about a day about what's going to happen and you know, like play for us. So, we founders get to dilute a little bit of our secondaries from time to time. And that takes care of you know, like health and wellness. So, at this point of time, like I'm not really worried, but again, mine is a one-off scenario. You can say guy with good genetics, but everybody out there who doesn't have a company, they definitely need a more solid investment portfolio for sure.

Raj 57:27

Yeah, what you mentioned was more about the cash flows. investing is a little bit long-term in nature, but you know, as they say, right, you know for anything like physical fitness, you are better off with the professional health investing.

Jitendra 57:52

Yeah, you are right. I suck at finances, no shame in accepting.

Mihir 58:02

I sucked at nutrition before I became a member of fittr. 

Jitendra 58:06

No, I agree. Although in my defence, I think I've invested in a couple of small companies, and that's my way of giving back to people. So, I think I've invested in some five to six companies, and I don't look back. Yeah, so I've done that, but obviously, now I'm not saying that's the most Optimal way of managing my funds. I just feel that this is not the right stage for me to worry about those things. And you know, I'm, I'm doing instinctive also because if I have money in the bank and if I can have somebody in, I'd rather do that than getting my point. But I'm sure that I will have to let go of my bad habits or I'd be in big trouble soon.

Raj 59:04

We are coming very close towards the close of our talk. So, this is one question, you know, I ask every one of my guests, what advice you will give to your 20-year-old self?

Jitendra 59:17

Nothing. First of all, I wouldn't even give them any sort of advice. Just go on, you know, life is just preparing for something. And even though it sucks right now, even though you feel like this is the end of the world, or, you know, your life can get better just endure and Life has plans for everybody.

You just have to be open-minded. You should be able to embrace things as they come to you? And the more you endure, the more you will be backed for a much bigger challenge. The more you face these bigger challenges, the stronger you will get. So don't worry if you are having some problems, It’s a good thing. It's going to make you strong. You have to be strong in the future, so it's all good. 

Raj 1:00:11

That's a really interesting one. And I'll tell you, you know, I asked this question to everyone. Of course, everybody answers it differently, but this is one answer One of the other guests also gave I really liked it because you know, your experience is your experience. Have your own experience and you're going to have fun? So, I really like this thought. So, with that, we come to the close of our session. Thanks a lot, JC. I really enjoyed the conversation. I'm sure Mihir did as well. 

Mihir 1:00:50

No points for guessing. My smile says it all Raj.

Jitendra 1:00:56

It was pleasant talking to a gentleman and I loved doing it.

Raj 1:01:22

Thank you so much. Thanks a lot.