We don't exactly have a shortage of fitness trackers with the likes of Fitbit, Jawbone, Misfit and the rest doing a pretty good job of making us think more about our health.
Where we have been critical in the past is when these companies flood us with data but don't really help us make any sense of it all. That's where GOQii, a startup based out of India and now California believes it has a part to play.
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It offers a fitness wristband for free where you can track data such as steps taken, distance walked, calories burnt and sleep pattern. Where it differs from the competition is that you sign up to a subscription service, which costs $29 a month. In exchange you'll get your own personal coaching (that you can choose) who will help you understand the data and advise where you can make improvements. You can communicate with your coach over the in-app texting service or just have a monthly call to catch up.
You don't even have to wear the GOQii band either as it also works with existing wearables including Fitbit, Misfit and Jawbone UP. It'll also work with the Apple Watch and Google Fit. Inside the companion smartphone app you'll be able to view the usual fitness tracker stats including sleep metrics, meal and water tracking and healthy habit tracking. Users will also be rewarded with karma points, which can be donated to a cause of the user's choice.
The Google effect
If you're worried about the credentials of this ambitious startup, it's India's most successful digital health and wellness solution. It also recently hired Google's former exec Amit Singhal ahead of coming out of beta in the US.
When we fired some questions over to Vishal Gondal, CEO and founder of GOQii, he explained what Singhal would bring to the company.
"Amit's aim is to bring his expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning from Google to GOQii, making the service more predictive and preventive," Gondal tells us. "Also, Amit wants to integrate the machines or devices with humans which is GOQii's business model. There's a lot which will happen and we are extremely excited and thrilled to have his expertise onboard with us."
We also quizzed Gondal about startup life in India and the biggest challenges he faced getting the project off the ground. "After the US, India remains the fastest growing country when it comes to start-up acceleration and growth," he explains.
"Clearly, Indians, just like people around the world, want to get fit. One of our the biggest challenges we faced in India was the low awareness rate and knowledge on the usefulness of wearable technology. Even though there is an increase in understanding and adaptability in the west markets, there remains an air of hesitancy around the need of wearables devices."
He also explains the decision to choose wearables and fitness citing a very personal story that help prompted the concept of GOQii. "During my stint at India Games, I started living a very unhealthy lifestyle due to long working hours and bad eating habits," Gondal tells us.
"I met this coach who is now a friend with who I started sharing my personal data of my water intake, eating habits etc. He started guiding me on a daily basis which made a huge difference to my lifestyle.
This got me thinking about how we lack a platform which has a human factor that will be able to help, guide and monitor one's lifestyle and get them in a healthy routine without the need of hitting the gym due to one's busy schedule which is the biggest factor in negligence of one's health. This is how I thought of getting into the wearables and fitness segment and started GOQii."
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Gondal has learnt a lot from the current wearables market but feels there is one big factor that most companies are missing. "What I noticed which was a miss in the current market is the lack of motivation among users," he says. "Most of the users buy the band or the wearable device but don't use it for more than a couple of months as there is no push or drive.
With GOQii we wanted to do this differently, so we introduced coach marketplace model where in users get their own personal coach to interact with and which also adds to on to one's daily motivation to live a better and healthier life."
GOQii clearly has a big challenge on its hands to break America, and a lot will rest on how willing people are to pay for the all important subscription service. We'll certainly be keeping a close eye to see how it fares against Fitbit and the rest of the fitness tracker fraternity.
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