Maker Hunt’s AMA with Gul Panag, co-founder at MobieFit

We’re starting the AMA with Gul Panag @gulpanag . Gul is the co-founder at MobieFit: which is a startup based out of Goa that focused on mobile fitness using distance based and sensor-based engines. Mobiefit’s first product is a running coaching app called FirstRun.

You can catch her on twitter:

Gul is one of India’s most powerful opinion makers and thought leaders. She has been a prominent icon for women’s fitness for several years now. A serial half marathon runner, Gul has extensively written and been interviewed on her fitness. Gul is also an Indian actress, voice actress, model, and former beauty queen who competed in the Miss Universe pageant. Panag began her career in Bollywood, with the 2003 film Dhoop.

So Gul will introduce herself and we’ll get started. She has one of the most diverse backgrounds of any maker we’ve had so I’m looking forward to your questions.

The floor is yours. After you introduce yourself, we’ll start the AMA.

Hello there!! Thank you for having me here :)

I am co founder of Mobiefit, a tech startup that makes fitness apps. Our first app — First Run is a voice coached app based on Josh Clark’s open source couch to 5 k program. Very excited to be here!!

Q. Can you tell us a bit about First Run? How is it different from other fitness app? How did you get involved? — Eric

I’ve been a life long fitness advocate- its part of my job description so to speak, and have over the years consumed many fitness products.

I’ve been involved in technology and communication for a while now, and I’ve been quite aware of the problems in personal fitness as well as the possibilities that technology can offer. FirstRun is an example. I’d not been a runner, even though I led an active life and participated in sports. Then I encountered the Couch to 5K program by Josh Clark and found myself running 5 km within a few weeks. This triggered off the epiphany that what most of us need is two things. The first is a ‘Program’: A clear set of instructions that take us from stage to stage. And the second is a ‘Coach’: A person who can motivate, guide and hand-hold us. FirstRun is based upon this realization.

I had been running since my teenage years, when my dad used to push me. I used to hate it then, and we never had any of the tools at that stage. I wish I knew about such a program back then!

Q: What are the 2–3 most high impact low effort things you’d recommend to busy people who want to be fit? — Shaan

Well it has to start with eating right. Because exercise alone, cannot undo the sins of eating wrong. I have tried loads of fitness tools/methods. I have narrowed down on the most low effort high yield approach. Eat right, exercise intelligently. Running is the easiest way to get fit. One can craft a running program that is a combination of speed, interval and distance runs.

Q. I have the impression that the indian startup scene is really taking off, lately. What do you think of its current state and what do you think are the next important milestones? — Olivier

Yes it is taking off quite well off late. Good products are getting made and investments are pouring in.

Q. I’m not a huge fitness buff myself (though I know I should do more), would FirstRun be a way to push myself to do more / better? Also more generally, how big is the personal fitness scene in India? — Jonas

Absolutely!!!! First Run assumes the longest you can run is 1 min and takes you from there to 5K by slowly increasing your capability . In 9 weeks with 3 sessions a week, you’ll be running for 30 min or 5k without a break!.

There is growing awareness in India. And the personal fitness scene is exploding!

BTW, in running alone, if we just count 3 serious running events in India, they attract over 100,000 runners. Mumbai , Delhi, Bangalore. There were 240+ unique running events across the year in India in 2014.

Q. What is your approach about the competition you have for this venture? Does competition matter? — Navin

This is my second entrepreneurial venture, albeit first tech start up. I run a boutique creative/content production company and of course am co founder at Mobiefit.

Competition matters, of course it does, it helps you to prepare for where the puck is going to be instead of where it is now.

Q. This may not fit until your flow. I should have proposed this earlier. A few people have send DMs asking if we could do some of the AMA using blab. It’s a live-streaming video platform and some of the makers could jump in and ask questions there as well. Would you be interested in doing a short session there for maybe 10 minutes? If you can’t, it’s no problem. — Eric

Android is nearly 90%+ of the smartphone market in India. So it makes sense to first do an Android app

Q. What are some of your favorite products by a startup in India, other than your own? — Parag

I love Zomato , HealthifyMe and Citrus

Q. Fitness is lot about habit building, how are you planning to get people to make the App to be a part of their habits and life. — Navin

We send notifications, alerts and reminders which help you stick to your goals. If you forget to track what you’ve done or not done? No problem, we will log and track all your sessions. Don’t have a place to run? That’s often a problem in India with the lack of open spaces. No problem, we have a treadmill mode.…There are a dozen more features which are designed to address the common hurdles which prevent Indians from running systematically, and hopefully a long-lasting habit

Q: Do ya see yourself getting actively involved in tech entrepreneurship in the future? Like making angel investments and supporting the ecosystem at large? — Karthik

Absolutely! I would love to do it and contribute in many ways. MobieFit is just the first chapter, many more to come in the future!

Great to see you here. The app looks awesome. Given the high rate of diabetes and heart disease in India, celebs with influence can positively inspire the country to make fitness a priority. Kudos. — Bhanu

Thats one of my goals. Awareness about diabetes and other lifestyle induced diseases.

Thank you for having me here. Look forward to being back

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