StartupTalky presents Recap'22. This is a series of interviews in which we conduct in-depth discussions with founders & industry leaders to understand their growth in 2022 and their predictions for the future.
The nutritional supplements industry was valued at USD 151.9 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.9% between 2022 and 2030. The driving factor for the growth of this industry is the increasing awareness towards personal health and wellbeing.
Many businesses within the industry are centered around promoting healthy living through functional nutrition and dietary supplements.
For this Interview, we invited Mugdha Pradhan, founder & CEO, iThrive, and we talked about the growth, challenges, insights, and future opportunities in the Health and Wellness industry.
StartupTalky: Mugdha, what service does your company provide? What was the motivation/vision with which you started?
Mugdha: We are a healthcare company based on the principles of functional nutrition and we provide multiple services:
Health and nutrition consultation and therapy: We provide a one-time consultation where we analyze the individual’s blood tests and do a root cause analysis. Our primary product, the ALIVE program is a 3-month health transformation program where the client is guided full-time by a nutritionist and health coach.
Functional Nutrition course: Our education vertical, iThrive Academy offers India’s only functional nutrition course. It is a 4-month course.
Supplements: Our supplements line, iThrive Essentials consists of supplements
formulated in-house by our R&D team.
iThrive’s vision- “We create healthier, happier, lifestyle-disease-free communities across the world every single day” guides all our work.
StartupTalky: What new services have been added in the past year? What is/are the USP/s of your service?
Mugdha: Our supplements line, iThrive Essentials, recently completed one year this November. iThrive supplements are formulated in-house by our R&D team and are at par with the top international brands but at an affordable price suitable for the Indian market. iThrive Evolve, our sports nutrition program was rolled out very recently. This is targeted at athletes, looking to utilize the power of functional nutrition and cutting-edge modern medical science to maximize their performance.
StartupTalky: How has the health and wellness industry changed in recent years, and how has your company adapted to these changes?
Mugdha: Conventional medicine is dreadfully inept at curing people of chronic lifestyle diseases, instead just focusing on suppressing the symptoms with drugs. More and more people are starting to realize this and as a result, good evidence-based alternative medicine practices such as functional nutrition and integrative medicine that focus on holistic health are getting more and more popular. The alternative health and wellness industry is estimated to be 4.2 Trillion USD.
iThrive is India’s leading functional nutrition platform. We ourselves are the change that the industry is witnessing. Functional medicine has often been described as the future of medicine.
StartupTalky: How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the health and wellness industry?
Mugdha: We have an extensive R&D department that updates our treatment protocols and course curriculum every single week. The team keeps itself informed through various resources like published papers and podcasts and articles put out by leading functional medicine practitioners globally.
StartupTalky: What key metrics do you track to check the company's growth and performance?
Mugdha: We keep track of our clinical data thoroughly including the number of clients enrolled, the number of successfully healed, the number of successful reversals of specific medical conditions, etc.
We also track our revenue and finances intricately. The performance of individual employees and teams in the organization is tracked via key performance indicators(KPIs) that are determined based on the role.
StartupTalky: What were the most significant challenges your company faced in the past year and how did you overcome them?
Mugdha: Our company has scaled up quite significantly in the past year, especially in terms of our workforce. A lot of things that were previously done very informally could not be continued in the same way. We introduced a proper hierarchical structure in the organization with defined teams. Additionally, all of our data including client data and other internal company data has been properly organized with additional security measures added.
All of this has optimized our workflow and increased efficiency. It also sets us to scale up further more easily.
StartupTalky: Good service, is something everyone is talking about in the service industry. How do you ensure that your clients are happy?
Mugdha: Client satisfaction is our topmost priority. We have separate roles in the organization to specifically, focus on client services. When clients enroll for our program they are assigned both a nutritionist and a health coach who is available for support round the clock both through calling and via text.
StartupTalky: What are the different strategies you use for marketing? Tell us about any growth hack which you pulled off.
Mugdha: The biggest strategy we use is to create brand awareness. iThrive is a pioneer of Functional Nutrition in India. The term Functional Nutrition in itself is a novel concept that has only recently reached India but it’s a method we have been following for a long time.
In order to market this we have been using social media to create awareness. We have three main verticals we market in a similar manner by posting reels, posts, and advertisements. We also conduct webinars monthly to educate people and build trust among our audience.
The recent new marketing strategy we used was to create a campaign around Diwali. It was one of our biggest projects. We had a 60-second advertisement around it, social media promotions, PR, and more. The campaign gained great traction. And it paid off really well. We gained a lot of recognition.
StartupTalky: Foreign clients- this is what most of the service-based companies are looking for. What has been your experience?
Mugdha: We have had our fair share of foreign clients. Our vision is to create healthier, happier, lifestyle-disease-free communities across the world every single day. So like many service brands we do target foreign audiences but we do not focus on them majorly.
StartupTalky: What are the important tools and software you use to run your business smoothly?
Mugdha: We use many different tools to make our work easier. One such tool is Height, a project management tool that we use to keep track of all ongoing projects across all three verticals and the myriad of platforms we market on. Each department like the design team, the content team, the production team, etc has its own set of tools, specific to its niche.
Our design team uses Figma to make everything right from social media posts to websites. Also, our nutrition team uses Trello to consolidate clients’ documentation. And of course, we use many features that google provides like Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Meet, etc.
StartupTalky: What opportunities do you see for future growth in the health and wellness industry in India and the world? What kind of difference in market behavior have you seen between India and the world?
Mugdha: Functional Nutrition, though a novel concept has been gaining popularity as it fills a major gap- evidence-based practices in alternative healthcare. And as a pioneer, we see a graph that increases exponentially. Especially with the next round of funding just around the corner, we have projected iThrive to become a household name.
Just in India, we have projected revenue of $14 M in the next 5 years. Globally, we
have clients from UAE, the USA, Australia, and Pakistan.
StartupTalky: What lessons did your team learn in the past year and how will these inform your future plans and strategies?
Mugdha: Since last year our team has grown 3x. What the initial team learned was that manifesting does work. We understood how important was it to be true to our morals and culture. It was very important that how much ever big our team grows, we need to keep our culture intact.
StartupTalky: How do you plan to expand the Customers, service offering, and team base in the future?
Mugdha: We are working towards expanding our customer base globally. Our current global client base is mostly referral clients but we are looking forward to marketing iThrive and its subsidiaries across the globe. Especially Australia, UAE, and USA.
As far as our services go, we have three verticals, iThrive ALIVE, our parent company that focuses on the reversal and prevention of chronic lifestyle diseases, iThrive Academy, our teaching platform, and iThrive Essentials, our supplements vertical.
iThrive ALIVE itself has different programs that the client can choose from as per their requirements. Other than these, we just recently rolled out our sports nutrition vertical, iThrive Evolve.
In the last year, we have increased our team from 20 employees to almost 60
employees and are expecting to hire more. With the company growing exponentially the need for more resources has increased.
StartupTalky: One tip that you would like to share with another Service company founder?
Mugdha: Be true to your vision and surround yourself with people who can help you achieve it. You do not have to do everything by yourself. Hire experts who can help you in areas you are not proficient in. And always look for people, especially your core members, who challenge you. Nothing drives you to become better than someone who can challenge you.
We thank Mugdha Pradhan for spending her valuable time and sharing her learnings with all of us.