Interview: Talking Fiticket With Sahil And Ankita Kukreja

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For every Mumbaikar who wants to stay active but blames the traffic or hectic lifestyle for lack of exercise, now there's Fiticket. Fiticket is a service that allows you to access gyms and activity areas across the city so you don't miss an activity session just because of a busy schedule. Via a single membership, a member has access to over 1900 activities per day in Mumbai – beginning from Marine Drive right up to Thane. Sahil and Ankita Kukreja are the couple behind Fiticket and we sat down with duo to dig into their story a bit deeper.
Sahil Kukreja
Sahil Kukreja
Can you tell us a little bit about your professional backgrounds? Sahil: After playing six seasons of IPL for Kings XI Punjab, I quit about 4 years ago. I moved on to join the family business. Along with Fiticket, I currently also run a cricket academy to coach underprivileged kids. Ankita: I grew up in Delhi and have worked in financial markets, but have always been fitness-conscious. I’m currently pursuing my Masters in Nutrition from Beacon University. What inspired you to start Fiticket? Sahil: Basically we felt the need for something like this. We came across something in the West which was scalable as a model. When we explored opportunities here, we realized the potential. We didn’t really invent, rather try to re-invent the idea as an Indian model. Ankita: Both of us have also always been inclined towards fitness; so it’s good to do something you are personally passionate about and have certain experience in. When was Fiticket launched and what encouraged you to choose to launch in Mumbai? Sahil: We launched officially in July this year. We are planning to expand to Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, but being born and brought up in Bombay it made sense to start here. We are a startup at a nascent stage and we need to know the problems we have to address – so it makes to start on familiar territory. How does Fiticket work for Mumbaikars? Sahil: It’s getting extremely hard for people to stick to one particular workout or one kind of membership. It gets monotonous and boring. Fiticket gives you the option to choose any workout - anytime, anywhere. Ankita: There wasn’t any such platform where people could log on to see what’s happening around the city. Sometimes even the options of different kinds of workout can be an inspiration to workout. We’ve included a variety of activities - regular options like gym, cardio, swimming; offbeat options like CrossFit, Zumba, Kalaripayattu, Pilates and even Surfing. These options exist – but people haven’t been aware of it. That’s where we come in.
Ankita
Ankita Kukreja
What platforms is the app available on currently? Is Fiticket available only on app? Sahil: Fiticket is available on three platforms – Android, iOS and the Web. Downloading the app isn’t a must, the same services are available via our website – however it is preferable to have the app on your phone. Ankita: The app has a better user experience, it is mobile-friendly and personalized. There are reminders for upcoming activities, daily tips on keeping fit and even occasional motivation to get you to workout. What were some of the challenges you faced when starting out? Sahil: As a sportsperson the one thing I’ve learnt is that the bigger the opportunity, the bigger the challenge. India is still an unorganized sector – 60-65% of it is unorganized, so that becomes a fair bit of a challenge when you’re setting up. The fitness sector especially – only 35% of it is organized. But the fact remains – it would be quite boring without challenges. It was initially hard to get people to support the idea – but once someone did use the service, it wasn’t so hard to convince them. Yes, you have to chase people at first, you have to make the effort – but that’s fine because it’s worth it. Was it difficult getting fitness organisations to come on board? Sahil: Not really; we were and are catering to a problem they face, and the only option they’ve had for that so far has been free trials – which is not feasible for them. It also increases exposure for them, which is specific and impactful. Compared to a standalone gym marketing itself, a Fiticket association allows them more chances to get noticed. In the long run their cost of marketing will also go down, and apps like ours will take over. When a new class starts, we’re going to be the ones marketing and driving it. We’re already doing that to a certain extent. How big is the team now? Sahil: We’re a total of 10-12 people. What was the best advice you got when starting out? Sahil: The best would have to be when someone told me, “Launching a startup is similar to starting your cricket innings. The first half an hour to one hour is all about the bowlers – it’s their time. You’ve got to hang in there and keep fighting. And then as you keep going on, things start getting easier.” Whoever launches a startup – 9 out of 10 times it’s about falling and learning on your own. All the advice in the world isn’t enough – it sounds clichéd but it’s true; you fall and you learn. Every day we make a blunder and every day we grow from it. Is Fiticket funded? Or are you bootstrapping? Sahil: We’ve been bootstrapping so far, but we are in talks with people who are interested in funding us. What’s next? Sahil: We’re planning to expand geographically quite quickly – the goals are pretty much defined. In 6-12 months we want to be present pan India. It’s something we see as an achievable target. Ankita: Our motive is to make fitness as flexible as possible. The ideal future is one where a member can work out anywhere in India – wherever he is. Sahil: We’re also very focused on customer experience. I’ve played the most competitive sport in the country, but I’ve never been big on competition. We forget about competition – it’s there, it exists, it will come and it will go. You’ve got to do your thing. It’s not just about starting something, we want to understand our consumer’s needs and personalize their experience. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who might want to start up? Sahil: Be yourself and go for it. You want to do something? Start. That’s the hardest part. Question yourself if you must, but don’t delve on it too much. The important thing is to start. In starting you learn to pivot, move and adjust yourself. Ankita: You should be doing something you love. Our team is very passionate about fitness. Also, we can wear tracks to work 😉

Richa Rungta

Richa Rungta
Born when Mumbai was still Bombay, Richa isn't as old as she may sound. She is a freelance writer, professional matchmaker and an accomplished Cards Against Humanity player. She considers herself an environmentalist and accepts compliments when they come written on cake.