GoQii has a small office in Govandi, Mumbai, which is not a place one associates with swanky offices. CEO Vishal Gondal lives nearby and often walks to the office. He was sporting a red GoQii t-shirt, track pants, and jogging shoes when I met him.
As we were about to enter the office, he said, "Let me show you a new feature which is not public yet". He tapped his new GoQii 2.0 band on the ID scanner and was granted access instantly.
We began talking about GoQii's origins. It was unusual for a company to start by selling a smart band that was bundled with wellness coaching services. In 2014, when the Indian wearable market was still in its early stages that was a big risk.
"We have always refused to sell the bands alone," Gondal explained. "We are not a hardware company. We always wanted to sell health as a package. The biggest problem in the healthcare sector is motivation. Just a band and the app wouldn't solve that problem. When we launched, smartphone sales were picking up in India and that helped us."
"Also, personalisation is very important in staying fit," he added. "You can't tell everyone to just run or walk for a certain amount of time. Everyone has different needs, that's why we preferred to have a coaching service. It was a crazy idea when we started. For us, a healthy result for our clients was the ultimate goal. That's why we have 3 months of lock-in period."
The challenge in the healthcare space is motivation not the information.
The company offers three subscription services -- for 3, 6, and 12 months -- that come with the GoQii 2.0 band, and cost ₹1,999, ₹2,999, and ₹3,999 respectively. The new subscription charges came into effect after the launch of the second version of the band in August.
When a user signs into the platform, they have a call with a coach to identify their wellness goals. Once that is determined, the coach creates 'habits' and the user has to complete the challenges with the coach's help. The coach chats with users every day, advising on matters ranging from exercising to diet.
"Since our customers chat with the coaches every day, we get great feedback," Gondal said. "For instance, a lot of our customers didn't like the charger we provided with the first band. So, we made a change and now you can charge it with a USB port as well from your laptop. And now, the new band provides a battery life of over 10 days."
"The first version was a learning curve for us," he added. "We saw that when people get tied to a system, use it for three months and see the result, they are bound to come back."
The new band has multiple functionalities and GoQii has included NFC (near field communication protocol) as well. It is working with many companies to give their employees access to different areas using the band instead of ID cards.
"We launched features in the second version that are available nowhere. For instance, doctor consultation, lab test tie-ups. We want to be a complete health solution service company," Gondal said.
GoQii has also opened up its platform to connect to other services apps. Now, the app connects to multiple other services such as Apple music, Fitbit, Garmin, Withings, Strava, Runkeeper and more. The company is positioning itself so that other bands, smartwatches and any other brand can connect to its services.
We are a service company for healthcare. We are happy with our customer thinks that they are leading an active and healthy lives.
"We have added doctor consultation so your medical records are stored in the cloud. Also, your coach would be able to give you different suggestions based on your medical condition. Say you have an injury, so the coach would instruct you accordingly," Gondal explained.
The doctor consultation is a newly added feature in the new service pack offered by GoQii. Users don't have to pay anything extra for the consultation and they can schedule the call according to their convenience. The company has also tied up with Thyrocare labs for different tests. All the test data will be stored in the cloud, so users can share their medical records with anyone.
"Our doctors are paid by us. So our incentive is not to send you for numerous tests like some doctor booking platform," he added.
GoQii has partnered with Axis Bank to enable payments across over 100,000 stores in India with the band, using NFC. The bank is also giving out reward points to users for meeting fitness goals, that can be used at outlets such as Starbucks and Nature's Basket.
According to a report published by IDC, with a 16.1 percent market share, GoQii has grabbed the first spot in the wearables space in Q2 of 2016, beating the likes of Xiaomi. Launch of the new Mi band might shift the rankings because of pricing but the 40 percent overall growth suggests that the scope to sell bands is large.
"The FitBits and the Garmins of the world provide you only data" Gondal explained. "They give you the hardware device and leave the fitness part on you. We, on the other hand, have created another ecosystem. Although by numbers and the wearables space they are our competitors, I believe we have a unique solution in our hand."
Sleep tracking is something which is included in almost every advanced band now and GoQii's second version includes it too. Gondal said that their coaches give users sleep advice because, besides nutrition and exercise, sleep plays a big role in an individual's health.
GoQii future plans include launching more services that might involve partnership with health centres and even insurance providers to give out premiums at low rates. Later in the year, the company is planning to launch a new band with a heart-rate sensor.
The company is even open to working with other manufacturers to launch the GoQii platform with their hardware. "For us the band is the equivalent to the Nexus from Google. It is just to show the capability of what can be achieved through the platform." Gondal said.