In the sixteenth episode of TC Show Off, a weekly show that provides startups a platform to showcase themselves, their business models, the core USP etc., ObiNo’s founder Ritu Soni Srivastav showcased how the startup’s mobile app keeps the user engaged while helping them lose weight. It has built proprietary tools to substitute a physically present expert (mainly dietician) with algorithms that provide meal recommendations, besides reminding users to drink water eight times a day and take their medicines.
To make things interesting, the startup tries to engage users through bloggers and experts who have build a forum to get people talking about how important it is to lose weight and how tough ‘it isn’t’. It has also built a task-based counselling model where users do a task and get rewarded in the form of money or points, as well as social gamification to keep users on track with their weight loss targets.
Talking about her inspiration to start ObiNo, Ritu mentioned that it all started about five years ago when she wasn’t able to lose weight on her own after delivering a baby. “I visited dieticians and lost significant weight. However, these dieticians are expensive and inaccessible at critical moments.”
According to her, there are 140 million obese people in India and the market is worth $158 billion in the country.
The startup was founded in August 2012 as a VAS player providing weight loss plans to subscribers of Airtel, but later pivoted to a mobile app. Today, it is trying to tap the B2C market through social media. ObiNo also offers a B2B2C model wherein it provides its services to corporate firm’s employees and clients.
Varun Chawla, co-founder, 91 Spring Board, said, “They have got themselves in a massive market. We Indians are less disciplined than westerners and so we suffer from these problems. But as the company will eventually hit 100,000 downloads, it could face challenges in the areas of market acceptance, quality of localised data, effective algorithms, and engaging UI/UX etc.”