While smartwatches and fitness apps are out there crowding options, HealthifyMe is proving to be a more inclusive offering
By Poovenraj Kanagaraj,
Fitness gyms are no longer the ones shaping the idea of fitness and health. While they may not be entirely replaced, smartwatches capable of tracking steps and apps taking into account your sleeping patterns are paving the way for a more accessible and affordable healthier lifestyle.
“There is a rising global interest in the personal health and fitness space, particularly among millennials and working professionals. The fitness industry has great potential to grow due to the increasing health awareness and penetration of technology into the segment,” says Tushar Vashisht, the co-founder and chief executive officer of HealthifyMe, a digital health startup that has since used by over 20 million users since its inception in 2012.
The Singapore-headquartered company comes in the form of a one-stop digital health and fitness platform available on both the iOS and Android store. Using a combination of artificial intelligence and human advice, the platform hopes to impact lives and help users achieve their fitness goals.
“In Malaysia alone, the fitness industry is growing rapidly as millennials are working towards leading a better and healthier lifestyle. Statistics show that revenue in the fitness segment is projected to reach US$48 million this year, an annual growth rate of 2.8%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$53 million by 2024,” Tushar tells BusinessToday.
On global level, most revenue in the fitness industry this year is expected to be generated in China (US$6.6 billion) followed by the USA (US$5.3 billion) and followed by India (US$2.2 billion). Increasing health and lifestyle awareness has also become a major trend in developed economies like Singapore for instance. The revenue of Singapore’s fitness industry is projected to reach US$29 million in 2020, an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent, resulting in a market volume of US$31 million by 2024.
“We noticed that most fitness and health apps in the market only focus on one aspect of health, be it a fitness tracker or an app offering diet tips. We believe there is a demand for an all-inclusive app like HealthifyMe to meet the needs of health-conscious consumers in Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in Southeast Asia,” says Tushar.
HealthifyMe has an annualised revenue run-rate of almost US$15 million, of which US$12.5 million comes from India and US$1 million comes from Southeast Asia, and has since more than doubled in the last one year on their top line.
The app was launched in both Malaysia and Singapore in late 2018 and has since grown their user base to 500,000 users in both countries and now have close to 40 dieticians and trainers based in Malaysia.
“We turned profitable in May 2020 at the operational level. As the Covid-19 lockdowns began in Southeast Asian, we witnessed a 30% surge in user traffic and a 40% surge in revenue, compared to before the lockdown period,” the co-founder says.
The company then saw a month-on-month growth of 10 percent in terms of revenue after the Movement Control Order (MCO) and a 30 percent organic surge in user traffic, engagement and retention amid Covid-19 lockdowns in both Malaysia and Singapore. User engagement had also grown from five session per week to 7.5 sessions, while the number of foods users tracked on the app increased from four to eight logs daily.
To cater to the growing needs of their users, the company launched HealthifyStudio, where users can learn how to do home-based workouts through live sessions with trainers. “We now have 50 daily classes conducted by trainers from all over the world and these include sessions on strength conditioning, yoga, dance fitness and classes catered to senior citizen as well as children,” Tushar says.
New features such as free immunity, assessment tests and trackers for sleep and handwashing were introduced to help users improve their immunity and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Users who achieved a low immunity score were offered a free consultation session with a HealthifyMe coach.
A large part of app’s consumer base in Malaysia and Singapore range between 25 and 45 years of age. In terms of ethnicity, in Malaysia, the app sees heavy usage among the Malays, followed by the Indian and Chinese community.
“Based on our data, more than 68% of the users in Malaysia are in the overweight BMI category and people with pre-existing medical history are more likely to sign up for premium plans,” says Tushar. The co-founder goes on to say the cost of joining a HealthifyMe plan is lower than the lifetime diabetes care expenses, both the direct and indirect costs included.
“Users see value in managing and reversing their cholesterol levels and other lifestyle disorders with the platform,” he points out.
In terms of differences between markets, Tushar says in Malaysia, plans involving a human element and physical coaches are more popular as Malaysian-based users seem to prefer human interaction and more hands-on guidance in their fitness plans. Meanwhile, Singapore-based users seem to prefer AI-powered coaching as they prefer to track their food calories, plan their meals and workouts on their own compared to Malaysians.
“We are looking to become the emerging market digital health leader in the next 2 years. We are likely to have more than 50 million users doing north of $50 million run rate,” Tushar says optimistically.
The team behind the digital healthcare platform plans to quadruple their user base from the current 500,00 users to two million within the next two years as well as to employ 150 dieticians and personal trainers in Malaysia and Singapore in the same time period.
“We have already started doctor subscriptions as part of our service and plan to launch mental wellness initiatives soon. As part of our long term goal, we are looking to form partnerships with insurance companies and testing labs to increase offerings to the users,” the co-founder shares.
Tushar goes on to tell BusinessToday that the next SEA market in sight would be Indonesia.
“The country is one of the fastest growing mobile app markets and shares similarities with Malaysia and Singapore in terms of food as well as high growth rate in obesity and lifestyle diseases in the recent past. We intend to service Indonesia from Malaysia and India as local service providers are limited,” says Tushar.