ClassPass style Indian gym-as-you-go startup ClassVerse shuts shop

4 May, 2016

New Delhi-based Spry Infotech Pvt. Ltd—which has been running ClassVerse, a marketplace providing users access to fitness studios and classes—has shut down after operating for nearly 10 months, a senior company official told Techcircle.in.

Rukaiya Kanchwala, founder of ClassVerse and former director of marketplace at Jabong, said the firm closed operations last month as it was difficult to achieve unit economics.

"While we were seeing a strong month-on-month growth, the market size was not big enough. The cost of customer acquisition was high. Also, we did not see enough traction in terms of users coming to the portal. The market was not there," she said.

Kanchwala said most people in India still view fitness as a means for achieving weight loss. "The whole aspect of fitness is not happening in India; let's hope this changes soon," she said.

The Delhi-based startup was founded in 2015 by Kanchwala after her four-year stint at Jabong. ClassVerse was a curated marketplace that provided users access to fitness studios, classes and gyms for a monthly membership fee. It also offered access to activities such as zumba, cycling, yoga, dance, kickboxing, bodybuilding, swimming, badminton, tennis and others.

ClassVerse had partnered with 250 fitness studios, offering more than 5,000 classes a week and over 100,000 activity slots per month.

Trouble brewing in fitness space?

Interestingly, the business model of ClassVerse was similar to that of US-based ClassPass whose success has propelled several entrepreneurs in India to mimic the model and launch services that link fitness enthusiasts with gyms and studios.

In fact, the shutdown comes at a time when a litany of startups following ClassPass' business model has entered the market. Players such as ClassHop, Fitpass, Fiticket and Flexipass are operating in the space. There are also fitness aggregators and fitness discovery platforms such as Gympik and Fitternity.

However, Akshay Verma, founder of Fitpass, is optimistic about the success of his venture and claims that the firm has been profitable for four months now.

"We get more than 1,000 paid customers a month and are growing 100% in terms of revenues on a month-on-month basis. Also, we have more than 10,000 app (Android and iOS) downloads which means people are using our services," he said.

The firm claims that, in the last 90 days, more than 6,000 workouts have been reserved on the app.

"It is all about execution; you have to understand the market and should have domain knowledge. If the model can be successful in US—where people already have access to fitness—India offers a far bigger opportunity as we lack fitness facilities here," he said.