After making India take to games online, getting them to slouch on PCs well into the night and hooking a generation permanently to mobile gaming, India’s foremost gaming entrepreneur, Vishal Gondal, now wants everybody to get out into the real world — play real games, feel the adrenaline rush and sweat it out outdoors.
The 38-year-old’s new entrepreneurial venture, GOQii, wants people to make lifestyle changes and focus on their health and fitness instead of getting addicted to games and waking up at night to score a few extra points. GOQii is ready to ship the first 1,000 fitness bands, each of which has a smart device embedded into it that will track a person’s fitness and daily activity. This, in turn, will be remotely monitored online by a personal coach, with health and nutritional experts offering their inputs.
In short, Gondal is building an entire fitness ecosystem rather than just selling tracking devices, apps, wearable gadgets or online solutions that are available by the dozen in the market. Most of these products lack sustained engagement, motivation, customised advice or a human connection, which Gondal is hoping to overcome by integrating all elements on to one platform.
A serial entrepreneur now, Gondal has got a galaxy of backers. Among them are Bollywood star Madhuri Dixit and her husband, Shriram Nene. Other investors include Google’s Amit Singhal, Microsoft’s Taher Khorakiwala and Vijay Vashee, Kanwaljit Bombra from Dell, Mahesh Samat from Epic and Mike McNamara of Flextronics.
Some other names are Prashant Gulati of TiE, Sanjay Parthasarthy of Indix, Sanjay Vaswani of CCI, Steve Luczo of Seagate, Anil Godhwani of Habitera, Bharat Vasan of MyBasis, Esther Dyson, and Goutam Godhwani of Simply Hired.
At Nasscom’s IT product conclave held in Pune recently, Gondal had hundreds of fans from IT companies and start-ups eagerly listening to how he is starting up all over again. Gondal founded Indiagames in 1999 and spearheaded India’s entry into the digital gaming industry. In 2011, the much-celebrated gaming entrepreneur sold Indiagames to Disney in what was reported to be a $100-million deal. After two years as MD of Disney UTV’s digital arm, Gondal quit in mid-2013 to set up his next entrepreneurial venture, GOQii.
Talking about the shift, Gondal says the progression was natural considering the kind of lifestyle issues we are facing today—high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. GOQii integrates wearable technology, expert-led personalised coaching and elements of social