ZEBA ZAIDI, Founder, BunkerFit, a freemium model vernacular fitness app supported by Airtel’s Start-up Accelerator Programme, talks of offering rich content, insights and gamification to consumers to add fun in their fitness regime, as well as growth opportunity in language markets of the future
How would you describe your experience of starting BunkerFit? What was your idea and how did you go about implementing it?
I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset. This is actually my fourth venture. I love solving problems - find a problem, determine if it is worth solving, figure out probable solutions and start implementing those. The business emerged from the same thought process. My idea was very simple - to democratise fitness, to make a fitness journey available to everyone irrespective of gender, location, or most importantly, levels of disposable income. Most fitness apps cater to the upper and upper middle class audience, and come with a subscription fee. I used my content creation background to put together a proprietary delivery method of quality fitness-based content - training, nutrition, yoga, running and mindfulness - all under one umbrella. I then worked on bringing all of this on one holistic platform and launched the app called BunkerFit.
How do you plan to position your product in the market, where many fitness apps already exist? What are the USPs of your app? Will it always be free?
BunkerFit offers one-of-its-kind solutions that allow users to consume everything they need for their physical as well as mental fitness in one space. Through advanced use of data science, we also give them insights that allow them to measure their progress through their fitness journey. Our customers get value as they can use one app instead of three or four different ones. The rich quality of content, that too available at no cost, adds the fun in fitness. The insights and gamification keep the excitement alive, bringing them back to the app again and again and letting them find something new each time. Our positioning is very simple. We are a holistic, vernacular, free fitness app. The positioning is a direct derivative of our product; so we didn’t need any gimmicks to establish a differentiation. Now that we have established our product/market fit, we are looking at opening the app up to a larger audience. We have already added Tamil and Telugu to our audio repository of English and Hindi as language options for users and are now gearing to push the app into these vernacular markets. We are building BunkerFit as a freemium app. All the content that is free now will remain free forever, but we will build premium features on top that will only be available to paid subscribers.
Fitness and health are on top in the hierarchy of individual needs at the moment. How do you envision the Indian fitness industry in the years to come?
We were a nation that already accounted for 55% of all global lifestyle-related diseases. Adding the pandemic to the mix has definitely brought home the importance of personal fitness to all of us. The fitness industry is going through a rapid acceleration as well as change. Consumption of fitness apps grew by 157% last year, and added a whopping 58 million new users. So we will see a huge increase in numbers here. I am confident that in the coming months, we will see the bulk of this monetization opportunity come from the vernacular market, which accounts for two-thirds of all digital consumers. And that is where we are placing our bets.
Please tell us about BunkerFit’s association with Airtel’s Start-up Accelerator Programme. How does combining synergies with a brand such as Airtel help you?
Airtel has been a huge supporter from the start. We got inducted into their accelerator programme last year just as the pandemic hit us. Since then, they have been helping us with testing our consumer cohorts, giving us valuable advice, as well as onboarding users. Airtel had acquired 10% stake in Spectacom, the company which owns BunkerFit, as a part of Airtel’s Start-up Accelerator Programme. This collaboration allows Spectacom to leverage Airtel’s strongest pillars and most importantly the executive advisory. They have opened up their customer base of 350 million+ to us, and we are able to provide health and fitness-based content free of cost. It is a huge synergy that will add tremendous value to the growth of BunkerFit.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for BunkerFit?
For now, our focus is on scaling BunkerFit to our first 100K customers in the next few weeks. Since we launched with an minimum viable product (MVP) version of the app, we are also in the process of expanding it with more features and languages. In the long term, BunkerFit aims to be the preferred fitness partner for 100 million consumers by 2030. We absolutely see BunkerFit to be the app of choice for the fitness-focused consumers of India and eventually markets abroad.