StepSetGo is one of India’s fastest-growing fitness applications in the country. Since its launch the app has thrived on its unique hook of rewarding users for simply walking. Imagine one gets rewarded for walking a number of steps. Well, over 7 million registered users now get rewarded for walking. With these great numbers this start-up is also a leader in the fitness rewards space.
The app takes into consideration the number of steps the user has taken and rewards the users with coins that can be redeemed through the bazaar section of the app. Brands such as Bajaj Avenger, Boat, Skechers, Puma and Decathlon have associated with the app, which proves that the app is a unique way to reach out to their target audiences. Well, if you still haven’t understood then please go and download the app, after reading this story, of course!
In a long and detailed conversation with the core team of StepSetGo, we learnt about their journey, app innovations, and the plans ahead. Launched by smart entrepreneurs Shivjeet Ghatge – CEO, Misaal Turakhia, CP0, and Abhay Pai, CTO – StepSetGo.
Read on and get inspired!
How did you start StepSetGo? What need gap did you identify?
Shivjeet Ghatge: When Abhay, Misaal and I joined forces to come up with an app of our own, we knew we wanted to be in the fitness space. From a very young age, all three of us loved playing sports and engaging in any form of physical exercise. However erratic schedules and crazy work weeks made sticking to a routine a bit of a struggle. It was during this time that Abhay (co-founder and CPO) very casually mentioned that if I (Shivjeet) got paid to go to the gym my work-out routine might not have been so sporadic. It was this idea that sparked the first phase of building StepSetGo.
The fitness space in the country had both local and international players offering various solutions to lose weight or to stay healthy. However, what wasn’t accounted for was the ability to encourage people to stick to their fitness commitment and actually achieve their goal. It wasn’t enough for a user to simply just download your app and use it for a few days when their resolve is at its peak. We wanted to keep them engaged and provide enough motivation so that they don’t waver in their commitment. After doing a fair bit of research, we realized that in India out of the 400 million people who are conscious about getting fit, only about 45 million were doing something about it. Excuses and lack of discipline were the two major reasons the remaining 350 million or so people weren’t taking the leap.
The more we thought about it, the more we realized that there was a definite market for StepSetGo. The concept was simple; take an uncomplicated, but effective form of exercise i.e. walking and reward people for being regular at it.
Wow! Your desire to get rewarded for working out actually gave birth to the concept of Step Set Go! Tell us about what triggered your entrepreneurial rush?
Shivjeet Ghatge: I began my journey as a working professional with some extremely reputable agencies like Duval Guillaume, a prominent and well-known advertising agency in Belgium, Publicis Paris, Umbrella Design and Grey Worldwide. Working with these companies helped me hone my skills in brand marketing and business development, which eventually led me to start my own consulting agency. There I began helping family businesses set up a definitive path to creating their own brand identity even though that was something that was relatively unheard of in the previous generations. Working with this new generation of go-getters who were determined to go off the beaten path, in a direction that had not been explored by their predecessors inspired me to do the same.
You come with great brand experience! Coming to you, Abhay, you lead the Technology at Step Set Go and needless to say that tech is the backbone of SSG. What made you take the entrepreneurial plunge?
Abhay Pai: From the time I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. The ability to mould something from the ground up pushed me to go after opportunities that would equip me with the right skillset. Technology has always fascinated me, especially since it’s the backbone of any successfully functioning business in today’s day and age. While working with high scale tech driven companies like IBM and BookMyShow I learned quickly what goes into building and scaling up a platform. With StepSetGo not only was I able to build the app’s tech architecture from scratch but on a day-to-day basis I am able to tweak and innovate ensuring its long-term growth potential. This constant challenge has driven me to be inventive in my solutions and build something I can truly stand by.
I came with no entrepreneurial background, but I have always lived by the motto of ‘Believe in what you do and do it with passion’, so that is what pushed me to co-found StepSetGo.
Well, passion drives us all, doesn’t it, but very well! Shivjeet, tell us about your team structure and operations and how has the team evolved and grown over time?
Shivjeet Ghatge: What started as a three person operation out of Misaals dad’s office has now grown to a team of 33 people. In terms of structure, while the three of us (Abhay, Misaal and Shivjeet) have very defined roles based on our skillset, as months passed and StepSetGo started gaining more and more users we realised we needed to hire more people to help us operate and scale the brand at the same momentum. While I look into the marketing, management and partnerships side of the company, Misaal looks after product development and design and Abhay handles the back-end architecture of the platform.
Wow! That’s a story straight out of a film! Three friends starting a business and doing so well… looking back at the journey, how has it been?
Shivjeet Ghatge: When we were about six months in at the starting of 2019, we were hesitant about pushing our concept out into the market. We thought we needed another six months to build it to perfection. While we were constantly testing StepSetGo with family and friends we knew that a larger, unbiased sample size would be needed in order to get honest and actual feedback. So we decided to take the leap. On the 10th of January of 2019, we launched the application and I went to NMIMS College in Bombay to do a little dipstick with the students there. Little did I know that I’d be coming back to the office at the end of the day with 200 new registrations and by March 2019, we were up to about 55,000+ new user registrations a day.
The organic following we have acquired thanks to a loyal user base that loves using the application helped us cross nearly 7 million registered users in just 20 months. That was a huge accomplishment for us because it was then that we realised that we had a unique concept that had a sense of virality built into it.
Our most recent achievement would be our win at the Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge under the health and fitness category. That truly was a surreal experience and helped open up the platform to even more audiences.
Yes, congratulations on winning the Atmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge! Abhay, tell us about your TG, what’s your core target group been and where have you seen maximum growth?
AbhayPai:The beauty of StepSetGo is that it’s open to all irrespective of age, gender or social standing. We want to make sure that no matter what the age or fitness level of the user, StepSetGo will have a solution to track and reward every achievement. However, we do see a large number of our users coming from an age group between 18 and 25. We saw a lot of college students as our early adopters and they helped us in getting a spillover effect in different age groups eventually making StepSetGo a family app.
Misaal, coming to you, tell us about from the perspective of app design and updates, how has the transformation journey been from the launch to now?
Misaal Turakhia: Funnily enough, I was just going through some of our initial app designs recently, and it was amazing to see how far we have come. StepSetGo was dark-themed way before android and iOS made dark mode popular, meaning that there wasn’t a ton of documentation on the good practices of dark UI design. It has been a very iterative and experimentative journey for us, playing with colours to ensure that the visual experience is smooth, non-cluttered, and extremely readable where required. And along the way, we have kept evolving our design language to add gratification while ensuring that the experience didn’t get jarring.
In regards to app/feature updates, we ensure regular updates are done keeping in mind the feedback from the users. We have updated our signup process at least 4 times, basing it on feedback to ensure the smoothest onboarding process (because that’s the first experience the user touchpoint).
Additionally, because we are very aggressive with our timelines, we deploy new features every month! This means that we need to keep taking feedback, analysing crashes, making improvements and also somehow make sure that the UI keeps evolving to ensure that we don’t sacrifice on the simplicity that makes us stand apart.
What are your learnings so far and what steps have you taken to enhance the user experience on the app?
Misaal Turakhia: Over the past year at StepSetGo, we have continuously evolved our processes to ensure that we never sacrifice on the user experience. While this doesn’t mean that we always rollout flawless experiences in the first attempt, we base everything on the feedback we get, and the behaviour we see. This has led to us following a stringent process:- deploy, analyse, take feedback and iterate.
Shivjeet, coming back to you, while I know that all growth that StepSetGo received was purely organic, what has been your marketing strategy and how did you achieve so many users?
Shivjeet Ghatge: We wanted to choose the most organic way of marketing StepSetGo and the best option was using the power of ‘Word of Mouth’. When we decided to launch in January 2019 the first thing I did was speak to some college students about the application and introduced the referral and rewarding system on StepSetGo. The concept was so well received that I came back with about 200 registrations in a single day. In the following months, the application went viral and we were receiving close to 50k downloads and now, two years in, we’re almost over 7 million registered users. So it is safe to say that we have spent a base minimum on marketing and chose to take the most old school but effective way of getting the word out there.
And…coming to the lockdown? How has the business grown in the lockdown?
Shivjeet Ghatge: Well for us, our engagement has increased by twofold on StepSetGo. We had more and more users writing to us for new challenges to compete on. Also, keeping the lockdown in mind, we chose to reverse the way we allotted SSG coins. When in a normal scenario the user would earn 1.5 SSG coins for walking outdoors, during the lockdown they earned the same walking indoors as well. This way we wanted to ensure that they are motivated to walk even while being confined to their homes. We also made sure we innovated enough to keep our user base more engaged with the application. An example would be the FitGames feature, where we introduced games within the app but made users unlock lives in these games by walking.
Well, this is an important question from the context of brand associations and partnerships, tell us, how have brands benefited from their partnership with StepSetGo?
Shivjeet Ghatge: Well, our biggest plus point is the number of registered users that we have, that is growing every day. We have over 7 million registered users and that is the biggest selling point for the brands that have partnered with us. We give them a large audience to reach out too. There have been multiple instances where brands want to partner with us for a longer tenure as they have received massive traction through our applications whether it is through the advertising on the application or product purchases. We also have a 70% contract renewal rate from brands that go live on the SSG Bazaar.
And finally, Abhay, It’s been 2 years – and you have clocked 7 Million Downloads – what is the plan for the next 2 years?
Abhay Pai: The plan for the next 2 years is to add more features into the platform and at the same time make our existing system more robust and resilient. We are also exploring the possibilities to provide innovative solutions using Data Science that will help our users with their fitness journey and towards a healthy lifestyle.