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REPORT | The Journeys

Episode 1 Ft. Amaresh Ojha

Muskan- “As I sit and listen to the podcast,

A warm mug of coffee in my hand,

I am transported to another world,

By the stories and ideas of the speaker.

With each sip, I feel my mind awaken,

As the rich, bold flavour fills my senses.

And as I listen, I am inspired,

By the knowledge and insights that are shared.

So here’s to the podcast and the coffee,

Two perfect companions on this journey of learning.

May they bring me new perspectives and ideas,

And keep me fueled and engaged.”

Muskan- Hello and welcome everyone. I am Muskan, your host and your dost for the podcast series “ The Journeys” .This podcast series is presented by Insightner, on today’s episode our guest is Mr Amaresh Ojha and we at Insightner are thrilled to have him on board for the series, who has a diverse background. We are going to talk about his journey and what advice he has for others.

He is a renowned name in the Indian startup ecosystem. He also authored ‘Fitness habits- breaking barriers to Fitness’ Which became a best-selling book on Amazon in less than a year. He is a pass out from IIM Bangalore. Driven by his passion for Fitness Mr Ojha founded his first Venture Gympik in 2014. He’s a prolific public speaker and remained a contributor to the Fitness and Technology column in renowned publications. Currently, he is working at Round Glass as a product leader .In 2021, Business World honoured him as one of the winners of prestigious BW well-being 40 under 40 Awards.

Muskan- So, I would like to welcome Mr Ojha.

Good afternoon sir. First of all I would like to welcome you and it’s an honour to talk to you. So let’s begin the podcast!

So my first question to you is :

Muskan- Please tell us about your professional background and how the time since you started working has shaped you?

Amaresh- Thank you and thanks for your time. And for the experience, it’s always a pleasure to share my experience with the audience. I started my career as a software engineer way back in 2005. The start of my career was with Sun Microsystems and I worked with Intuit and a few other software companies. Before I decided to go on my own and change my passion, which is past passion which is more on the fitness side and match it with the skills that I have with this technology and try to solve one of the problems about the industry has like making Fitness Discovery easier for the people and that’s where the Journey of Gympik started where we started with the discovery platform helping people to find gyms Studios or any kind of Fitness in the country. So the journey started in 2014, we started with Bangalore and slowly we moved to different cities. It was a bootstrap company for initial six months and we got Angel investors and slowly once we started becoming bigger we got funding from the VCS and the company became bigger. Slowly we went deeper into the industry where we started making software for the gyms and the fitness industry to manage their CRM, Erp and a lot of other things. And in 2018 the company got acquired by RoundGlass Partners which is a CR2 base 12-in company and I lead the product vertical for them where I obviously am still on the well-being side of the product where I manage a lot of other products along with glp and few other things. So ,yeah that’s my brief about my journey.

Muskan- And how has this journey shaped you so far since the time you started?

Amaresh- I think it’s a good experience. I always say that entrepreneurship is more about two things. I always say that you don’t have a regret like you want to do something in life which you cannot do. So, obviously one of the things and the second thing is you also try to create opportunities for a new sector. A lot of people see this sector has limited opportunities or technology cannot be implemented in a wellness or Fitness sector. So, I took it as a challenge and we went deeper .We saw a lot of cases and a lot of problem statements and it did work really well for us. So yeah, it gives a sense of satisfaction where you have achieved something. I still feel that we could not make a unicorn, but that was never a target, because the market that we operate in is not so huge but the problem has a much bigger impact on the life of people .

Muskan- But it’s still great you know that you converted your passion into your profession. That’s commendable!

Amaresh- Exactly, so that sense of achievement always remains right so one year always becomes a byproduct, you obviously make money along with that.

Muskan- So what I see is that you are quite a busy man so how do you balance your professional and personal life.

Amaresh- I do that, I mean it’s always about making time and managing your secure duel right. So there’s something where I always have multiple caps/multiple hats which I wear. I always talk to corporates, I also mentor a lot of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who are on their journey and one of the things which I tell them is to prioritise their day or the schedule that they have like basically what are the priorities they have and make time for that and it’s not only about work but it’s also about making time for the family, making time for your health ,well-being and everything. And, this is something that I’ve preached, I practise on my own. I mean, I have been working out regularly for a while. Meditation is also one of the things I have been doing for a while. So, this is how my day continues. Work is obviously something we all have to do for our living, but a lot of other things keep going along with that and it keeps all of us occupied.

Muskan- One more question, as you said that you wear different sorts of caps so which cap do you enjoy the most? Which duty do you enjoy the most?

Amaresh-  I think all of it. Being an entrepreneur, one of the flexibility that you get is you can do what you like. I do it because I like this. I like the energy of these new entrepreneurs or the new generation of entrepreneurs who are very passionate about the ideas which they are chasing or the problem they are trying to solve. So, I like meddling with them and also trying to see the way they are trying to tackle the problem because a lot of the time you also learn from different people like how they are trying to tackle the problem . So, obviously for me also it’s not the end of story because for an entrepreneur it’s always one you do one company after that you have another .That Journey continues so how you get new ideas and things because it’s always from the ecosystem. The people that you see, meet & greet every day and that’s how I keep my network.

Muskan- So, I wish to ask you about your startup which was Gympik. So what was the idea behind Gympik?

Amaresh- I told you, the idea was very simple. Even now, if you try to go to a gym or a fitness studio, the idea is to make it very easy for people to find something based on your choices . Like what suits your requirement, obviously the pricing, how close it is to your house or the office. So, based on that requirement we created a platform . Let’s make Fitness more accessible to everyone who is trying to discover it.

Muskan- That’s  great ! how the idea started.

Amaresh- Yeah ,so that’s how the idea started and slowly it became bigger

Muskan-  But, the best thing is connecting technology and Fitness! How did you manage ?

Amaresh-  I mean obviously it’s the skill set. I was techy for a while and this is something that I’m very passionate about. So, the understanding of both the industries. I understand fitness very well and now technology is something I am hands-on. So, I thought technology is something which can solve most of the cases. Currently, if you see most of these companies nowadays like all the companies, the only thing they have if they have used technology to solve the business problems that these traditional Industries have for a while, why not use it ?

Muskan- Yes, of course. So that was a great idea! So my next question is were you always a fitness  enthusiast?

Amaresh- Not really! I mean no, not always. I wasn’t always okay because I always say that it’s a cultural problem in our country. We are never taught to take care of our states like we don’t pay fitness very seriously because it’s more about curriculum, study driven, career oriented; like you focus on your studies till you are in 10th or 12th and after that either you opt for engineering or whatever you have after that you go for MBA and once you are done then you have to get settled into a career. So, Fitness or health always has a backstage in your life .So similar thing and because I come from a very small place so I had a single story but if you talk to most of the people who are working in the corporate now one of the problem I mean 95 percent of people have a common problem; first they don’t like their job, second thing is they want to do something on their own. But they don’t have two things. I mean they don’t have so much courage, guts or whatever you say to start on their own. So, these are the challenges that people have. What happens once you do ,once you take care of yourself it also builds a lot of confidence. And, one of the things which I realised when I got into this fitness journey, when I started working out was to start getting interested in gyming ,then playing sports, running and yoga. I realised it when it’s like every day you are pushing your limits and when you start doing one space you try to do that in every box of your life so it becomes a practice for you and if you see the interview of most of the successful people one of the common thing is they all work out like five days a week, then a lot of books are written on that.

Muskan- Right! The other day I was watching Mr Adani’s interview and he said that I make sure to work out at least one hour daily.

Amaresh- Exactly! So that’s a common thing and there’s something I will tell all the young corporate people like this is something you should feel proud of, this is not something you should be ashamed of ! That’s where my journey started. Now, I proudly say that I take care of my personal well-being and I’m very proud of that. Health comes first, so it has to be. The problem with this space is- we all know that, but we don’t practise.

Muskan- I’m sure that a lot of people would be inspired by your words.

Amaresh- So, the book which I authored two years back, I got the idea since I speak in a lot of forums and I always vouch for the importance of Good Health & Fitness in life .

Muskan- I would like to congratulate you; it was a best-selling book Amaresh- Oh thank you! We spoke to a lot of people and this book also came out of my own experience .Where I, like a lot of people, they join gyms ,they join yoga or they start running but they could not continue it. We started  analysing a little deeper. I got a lot of psychologists and a lot of people who study behaviour and one of the patterns is that we realise it happens because it doesn’t become a habit. In most of the people we started studying the habit forming pattern in Fitness and this book is all about how basically you can make Fitness as the Habit . Because, the habit forming cycle of Fitness is little different than is for the other activities. And this is what we talk about in this book. If you really want to make it a part of your life, follow these steps. It sounds good that you are going to be successful .It is interesting and a lot of people have benefited. We work with a lot of people who have struggled and the people who have serious health issues. A lot of doctors vouch for the book and they recommend it to the patients. Because for them it’s very critical. This is more like a manual I would say where you can make it part of your life.

Muskan- I want to ask you my next question which is selling Gympik to Roundglass. How was the process? Was it simple or was it challenging for you?

Amaresh- No! not really. You see, for every startup  there’s a journey right. If a small river I want to become big. It goes in the ocean or the sea right. So, the similar fashion is a startup Journey like Myntra got acquired by Flipkart, Flipkart got acquired by Walmart. So if you want to really become bigger in a space either you have to become really really big or you are part of a bigger plate. So the similar thing with us; we became part of Roundglass which is currently doing a lot of other things apart from Fitness so they also have mental Wellness, nutrition, holistic well-being, Wellness Retreat and a lot of others. So we thought holistic well-being is something which is going to be more powerful and more Impactful .Rather than doing only Fitness and it suits the integrated offering that they have. So, we thought why not be part of something which is more impactful so that’s how the conversation started and it went in a positive way so it was all smooth and happy. Good for me, because you always make money when you do this kind of equipment. So yes, yeah okay

Muskan- So I would like to walk you down the memory lane. I want to ask you questions about your University. What was your education background? And did you imagine back then that you would be as accomplished as you are right now?

Amaresh- I’m not sure. I studied engineering when I started in 2001. And so that time we all had one dream like you get placed and after that you are in a suitable corporate job which is getting enough money so that you can do whatever most of the youngsters can do right. So I think at that point of time you really don’t think Beyond three years or five years of your career. So, when we talk about it we would have started the mass flow hierarchy of needs right where we talk about the need changes at different stages  as we grow. First we have the physiological needs, then we have the social psychology and then it comes to self- esteem and a lot of other things. So this is more like a pyramid so that’s how the new changes so at that point of time I think most of our needs are about the physiological rates .Like ,I’ll buy a car, I’ll buy a house temporarily, I’ll buy a big car but what next exactly but once you get all those you’re like okay now I need something more than that. This is not something I have been working on. This is not what I am here for, so I needed something beyond that so that’s where you start questioning your abilities and also your existence. Like okay let’s let’s try something different more impactful with which  I mean a lot of times you also do to make your presence felt in a better way. So that’s how I started.

Muskan- So do you remember your University days?

Amaresh- It was always fun. I mean, I still miss those days. So, I am still in touch with my college friends. We meet very frequently ,we party. So yeah it was always fun to remember those days .

Muskan- Since we’re talking about university, I wish to ask you one question. How much do you think education plays a role in shaping one’s career?

Amaresh- I think it’s a very good question and a very interesting one. Two things, I think education is something that is posed to us or the education that we want to take. Actually these are two different questions that we need to identify. You would have seen a lot of people now coming out of University is doing YouTube, doing movies somebody has become a I mean a photographer people are doing everything out of Life coming out of IIT and IMS it’s just that they never wanted to do that. They studied those things because it was forced on them by society, parents and all the other kids. So,education has an impact on it if you are really interested to do that. Yeah but getting the right education what you are really interested becomes very critical and that’s where the education system what the country has should evolve already little more and  I hope this is going to change, if you look at the education system what we have in Western countries throughout the country you have the option to change the papers and the options that you have based on your choice and the likes and dislikes. But we don’t have that much flexibility here in our country so I hope it’s going to change in the coming times.

Muskan- What do you think will be the future of Fitness in India? Amaresh- The future of anything is going to have technology. So if you would have seen a future of Fitness in the Western World, you have this Peloton and mirror which are devices which you can install in your house and it’s more like a big human size mirror which guides you what to do and what not to do. This is basically a human teaching you out of a mirror so basically you don’t need a trainer to come to your place somebody which is more like a AI or a technology human if we say that he teaches you out of that why it came earlier in those countries because the cost of higher retainer is much higher there . India is much cheaper to hire a trainer so I think it’s going to come here slowly but it’s going to come because it becomes flexible if I have a device like mirror in my house I can work out at my own convenience whenever I want ,what I work out I want and it learns from the way what I did yesterday and what should I do today and what should I do tomorrow because this is this learning every day from what happens  so that’s how even the fitness is going to evolve. The gym studios are going to change the way everybody wears wearable devices. Now it’s capturing a lot of data around us so increased data is going to fit in these devices. The future would be filled with AI, computers and Technology. So most of the things where we deal with humans are dealing with anything that is going to be filled with technology. Fitness is not an exception.

Muskan- Because you are an author of a best-selling book ‘Fitness habits- breaking barriers to Fitness’ on Amazon. So what was your favorite part of writing this book?

Amaresh- The overall journey of creating this book itself was very inspiring for me and because we wanted to create a manual for the user and we wanted to create it as simplistic as possible. So, whenever we have to write one word and you’re like okay no let’s make it more simplistic so that a common user who has no understanding of Fitness or who has not done Fitness ever can also relate to it. So, most of the time is very simplistic it goes like a flow and we all can relate to that so the experience of writing the book keeping the user in mind basically the Persona of the user who is going to read the proof was very inspiring and that’s where I always keep telling my publisher like you don’t worry for how we are going to write it but I know how to sell. So, this book is definitely going to sell because marketing and branding is one of my things.

Muskan- So what can we expect from you in the future ? Is there any other book coming up?

Amaresh- Yes,  I am working on another book which is little away from Fitness but more on the holistic well-being side of it where we are trying to also include the mental well-being part of it.

Muskan-  All the best for that, I’m sure that would be successful as well and what one mantra in your life has helped you a lot?

Amaresh- I think my mantra is very simple. I try to become better every day. This is my lesson for myself . So whenever I go to bed I just try to remember one instance where I learned something new. There is something I keep reminding myself to to become better every day so this is something that is working well for me and I would say like this should work for most of the people because you are not competing with somebody else.

Muskan-  You are always trying to be the better version of yourself.

Amaresh- Absolutely, yeah !

Muskan- I’m gonna go on to my last question which is what advice do you like to give to your 24 year old self ?

Amaresh- Okay, I think that’s a tricky one!  So, I think my advice would be to be more risk taker which I wasn’t at that point of time & more adventurous in terms of career decisions because as Indians I would say again this is a very cultural thing. I typically see that we are not great risk takers .When it comes to career and those kinds of things we always try to get into a job which is more established, which doesn’t have much risk. If I have to advise myself- I would like to take up a job with more risk, because most of the time the risks are also associated with the returns that it keeps, and returns come obviously in terms of learning monetary benefit and many other tangible and intangible benefits. So yeah that’s the advice to get out of the box and take more risk.

Muskan- Absolutely. So, thank you that was a great philosophical note to end on and thanks for making this such a fun discussion today for INSIGHTNER – ‘THE JOURNEYS’.

Thank you Mr Ojha, it was lovely talking to you

Amaresh- Thank you Muskan ,thanks for your time .

Muskan- Thank you and with this we come to a close. This is Muskan and I’m signing Off ! Bye-Bye!