When you want to do something about your body, you need to push yourself and make the change in your lifestyle, but the problem is that it is usually hard to start. That is the problem when you are just starting with your fitness routine.
The solution is squat, according to a fitness expert. Jitendra Chouksey was a consultant with an IT company when he started counselling his friends on how to get fit. It all started with his friends who sees how effective his strategy and it started the chain reaction that results to his success as a trainer.
As he was working, it became difficult to deal with all the requests coming his way, so Chouksey wrote a booklet with some basic information on nutrition and fitness, and uploaded it on Facebook.
The idea was to provide the information and let people take charge of their fitness.
But this didn’t work. “Lots of people still wanted me to train them and they were ready to pay me,” says Chouksey. The 32-year-old then started a Facebook community to help people with their basic queries around fitness and nutrition.
This too didn’t stem the flow of personal training-related requests, finally prompting Chouksey to launch Squats, a curated marketplace for fitness and nutrition consulting. Squats allows people to enroll with experts of their choice to achieve their health and fitness goals.
The platform now has 4 lakh members. It also has a corporate vertical that provides wellness solutions, including seminars and workshops. “The service includes one-on-one mentoring for lifestyle change through nutrition and training guidance,” says Chouksey. Prominent corporate clients include Infosys, Tata Power and Reliance Mutual Fund. A three-month course costs between Rs 7,000 and Rs 20,000, depending on the services required. Six early believers in the idea, including Chouksey, invested Rs 90,000 to build the platform and get the operations started.
However, running the website 24×7 was a big challenge for the early, unpaid members. “All of us were already employed, so none of us needed salaries, but we had to work twice as hard. We did everything ourselves, including calling customers, building the platform, and dealing with technical and business issues,” says Chouksey.
To ease the workload, the startup tried outsourcing some of the technical and accounts-related work, but it didn’t quite work out. “Since none of us had any knowledge about compliances, accounts, audits, etc., we outsourced this and some website management-related work to specialists. It cost us a bomb and was a pain,” says Chouksey. As business began picking up, the startup built its in-house technical, accounts and other teams. Besides 130 nutrition and health consultants on its platform, Squats now has a staff of 60 across business functions.
Several users of the company’s services have joined as staff members. “Having staffers who works for you are different from those who believe in your mission and vision. So, we tapped people who had experienced the benefits of our services to work for us,” says Chouksey.
The Pune-based startup generated a revenue of Rs 21.3 crore in 2017-18 and expects to raise it to Rs 30 crore in 2018-19. “Even though some people have attempted to copy our model, diverting some customers from our services, we continue to thrive. Our accountability, including fee refunds in case customers are not satisfied, has helped us win people’s trust,” says Chouksey.
Recognised as the Best Wellness Service Provider in Maharashtra, in 2017, by Worldwide Achievers, and Best Fitness Company in Pune in 2017 by Merit Awards and Market Research, Squats is now setting up brick-and-mortar diet and wellness centres and has established one centre each in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Hyderabad. “We aim to establish 10 such centres in 2018-19 and have a target of 120 centres by 2020,” says Chouksey.