Fitness enthusiasts & Athletes have been used to either buying poor quality equipment which leads to a lot more spending on replacing the products or, spending 5x to 10x amounts in importing international brands for personal or commercial use. Athletes are also seen underperforming at the international level due to the lack of access to competition-level equipment for their practice sessions.
SF HealthTech was founded to address this lack of availability of international standard top-quality equipment at affordable prices, delivered at the doorstep of every fitness enthusiast pan-India. We are publishing an interview with Mr. Sancket Kamdar, founder, SF HealthTech:
Q.: Please tell us about the founders
Ans: Sancket Kamdar is the founder of SF HealthTech, a pan-Indian brand that makes quality Cross-functional & Strength equipment, matching international standards while also offering expertise in setting up Cross-functional Boxes, Strength & Conditioning gyms, Commercial gyms, Residential gyms as well as individual home gyms.
Hardworking and dedicated, Sancket’s professional journey began as a financial consultant at ICICI Bank. Ever since then, he has dreamed of starting his own company, as the prospect of being an entrepreneur and understanding the 360 degrees of a business over just a single area of focus inspired and excited him deeply. And in 2016, Sancket realized this dream by founding SF HealthTech to address the gap for top quality fitness equipment in India at a time when the country was opening up to the fast-growing fitness culture. A certified weightlifting coach and a passionate CrossFitter himself – he envisions empowering every fitness enthusiast in the country with world-class fitness equipment at affordable prices through the brand. Further, he also aims to facilitate education and mentorship from fitness gurus, helping entrepreneurs set up their fitness facilities, creating platforms for athletes to showcase their talent, and building a community that inspires one to meet their various fitness goals.
Sancket is of the mindset that every day is a new challenge, and the only formula to tackle every curveball life throws at you is by accepting and adapting to every situation. He firmly believes that a single-minded focus on ensuring that every customer is delighted always leads to the right solutions. This has seen him successfully scale SF HealthTech from a B2B business facilitator into a full-fledged D2C brand – even becoming the first Indian brand to create a seamless online shopping experience for its consumers and deliver fitness equipment to every doorstep in the country.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skill Sets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has a specific domain expertise.
Ans: SF HealthTech’s core team includes dynamic members like Saloni Vora (Marketing Head), Jeet Patel (Tech Head), and Ayesha Parikh (Sales Head), who have and will continue to grow and evolve in their respective spheres alongside the brand.
Saloni Vora is a curious & self-learned marketeer. Having pursued an MA in Brand Design from the London College of Communication, her creativity and design background give her an added edge. As an e-comm UI designer, she has supported the creation of a seamless shopping experience for the brand’s consumers, and her problem-solving skills allow her to come up with solutions that are time-saving and cost-effective.
Meanwhile, Jeet Patel is a genius in information and technology and is a Shopify expert who has developed over 300 global D2C websites. An MSU graduate, he is the brain behind everything IT at SF HealthTech, supporting it with the best tools for developing a solid online purchase experience and ensuring that the brand stays abreast with the latest tech.
Apart from them, Ayesha Parikh is a certified K11 personal fitness trainer and passionate about the fitness industry – she understands the requirements of every consumer more than anyone else and generally ends up with repeat purchases. She’s an empath and always looks out for her clients, thereby sharing a strong relationship with the customers. Ayesha is the most approachable team leader within the organization and is also known to maximize new opportunities under all circumstances.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Vedharth Thappa, India’s fittest man & the only Indian representative for India at the Crossfit Games was struggling to buy world-class functional equipment for his practice sessions. After reaching out to multiple vendors, he reached out to his close friend & our founder – Sancket for help. This is when brand SF was envisioned. Sancket made it the mission of his life to reach out to the best global manufacturers of functional equipment & brought the same to India after multiple rounds of quality checks. Tested & approved by India’s veterans, the products then made their way into the market for all consumers.
Q.: What is your USP? * What is the insight that you have about this market, that no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
1) Weight tolerance & precision of the products.
2) Quality control of the product & packaging.
3) The seamless online buying experience.
4) One-stop shop for planning & setting up cross-functional & strength fitness facilities.
5) Pan India hassle-free doorstep delivery.
Insight about the market: There are many fitness equipment brands in the country but the lack of availability of top quality fitness equipment is constant. The global fitness equipment market is evolving at a great pace in recent years as people are becoming very enthusiastic about fitness. The current market size of India is 2.6 billion USD with 6 million active users. It is expected to reach 60 billion USD by 2027.
Currently, India has two kinds of buyers in the fitness equipment market: buyers who have started investing in fitness equipment due to increased awareness; and secondly, committed fitness consumers such as athletes and fitness enthusiasts who need a permanent solution as they workout daily and go to the gym would not at all be feasible in the near future. The current spend on fitness is approximately 350 – 400 USD annually. We estimate a growth of 150% year on year in the overall fitness industry. Consumers are becoming more aware of the quality & are going to expect more than just local unbranded products. They will also be looking for smart rental options instead of purchasing the products.
Uniqueness: We are an online store that sells international/top quality CrossFit + strength & conditioning equipment at affordable rates available & delivers to every doorstep/pin code in India without any hassles.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
Ans: At the time we entered the market, most Indians were not exposed to the equipment that was already trending in the international markets. For eg, our Indian consumers were still largely using the traditional PU Plates made out of low-quality rubber vs the Olympic Plates made out of rubber with a higher durometer for lifting movements without knowing the benefits of the latter. We did take into consideration that a lot of education on the products is going to be required before we can start making any sales. Our biggest learning through this was to always educate the consumer before selling any product. Make them aware of all RTB before they can make the right decision to purchase.
Ideal Customer: Every customer with the intention of moving ahead in their fitness journey is considered to be our ideal customer. We have products that can empower beginners, enthusiasts & pros.
All our customers – from the first till date – buy from us every now & then due to trust & many other factors. Our return customer rate shows the belief they have in the brand.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: Being the founder of a start-up, every day is new learning. In the past 2 years, facing & resolving issues led by the global pandemic has been the greatest challenge. Accepting & adapting to every situation has been the only formula to cope. The sole intention of making sure that every customer is delighted has always led to the right solutions. The challenges that came with being self-employed – multi-tasking, managing various teams, understanding 360 of a business instead of just one area of focus, really inspired & excited me back then & still continue to. There’s a great deal of satisfaction that comes with solving complex issues that need to be resolved by me instead of banking on a senior. This takes me to great depths within me & pulls the best out of me.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc.? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Our pricing allows our customers to avail of premium long-lasting products at pocket-friendly rates. We also provide free shipping to Mumbai customers and free shipping to PAN India on large valued orders. The idea is to protect customers from freight costs which are expensive for heavy-duty products which have been the norm in this industry.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story of your startup? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: The journey from understanding the needs of our customers to exceeding their expectations has been our most critical victory. And in the last four years, this has seen us grow from 1 customer to 17000+ customers with a return rate of 36-38%.
Soon after launching the brand, we sent our products to industry veterans to rigorously test them. Their approval was the start of our success story.
Apart from that, being a bootstrapped company, it was a true challenge to meet the growing demands of every customer. We ensured to never compromise on the quality regardless of extreme pressures & successfully delivered increasing orders. Meanwhile, our team organically grew from 4 people to 30+ members, including all departments, where every new employee has shown the same focus and passion as our founding members.
As we were able to grow and take care of our necessities, we decided to support athletes who have the potential to become self-sufficing tomorrow. For instance, we are sponsoring an all-girls Pune Football Club to achieve their dream goals. Not only this, but we also take immense pride in the fact that international cricket coaches and athletes find our equipment the most reliable and accurate for training during the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in detail. (e.g., What is the current turnover? From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/inquiries and enrollment etc.)
Ans: 1st year: 1.03 cr | 2nd year: 2 cr | 3rd year: 5.5 cr | 4th year: 6.6 cr
Average Visitors per month: 80,000 to 90,000
Subscribed Visitors till date: 18000+
Average inquiries across all channels per month: 3000+
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: The brand’s big picture can be gauged from the verticals below:
Vertical 1 – Expanding our current product portfolio with internationally certified & patented products
Vertical 2 – Introducing services such as ‘try the product before you buy’ & ‘Annual Maintenance Contracts’
Vertical 3 – Rental / Subscription-based services
Vertical 4 – SF Games – A platform for athletes to compete in Pan India
Vertical 5 – Sportswear + Food Supplements
Vertical 6 – Fitness Experience Studios for personal training
Vertical 7 – Manufacturing unit + developing patent products
Vertical 8 – Rehab / Recovery products
Vertical 9 – Education for trainers who want to become entrepreneurs
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: A few branded players alongside a sea of unbranded products tend to become a part of our competition. What differentiates our brand from these is the SF HealthTech products’ durability, accuracy, finish, as well as biomechanics. At the same time, our brand also provides end-to-end solutions for CrossFit set-up/commercial gym set-up – right from floor plan designs to execution, thereby becoming our service differentiator. Moreover, we also give a seamless buying experience to our consumers via our e-shop – www.sfhealthtech.com.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? Any other information you would like to share?
Ans: Expanding into international markets.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Every day is a new challenge, and the only formula to tackle every curveball life throws at you is by accepting and adapting to every situation. A single-minded focus on ensuring that every customer is delighted always leads to the right solutions.