The human body is not like a car which you can change every time it breaks down. You can change vehicles multiple times in your life, but the vehicle that carries you, i.e your body is one and you need to travel in it your entire life. As such it is very important to take proper care of your body. Whenever the human body encounters a problem, we rush to the doctor to get it treated. But if we do not take proper care and make some lifestyle changes, these problems become chronic and will keep occuring throughout the rest of our lives. Diabetes, PCOS, obesity have become very common in today’s world, partly because of the lifestyle we have.
LiveAltLife is one venture which is trying to overcome these problems through a one-stop solution that includes not just treating the symptoms but trying to solve it at the root itself. We at Bangalore Insider recently had a chat with Vivek, the founder & CEO of LiveAltLife. Here are the excerpts of the conversation.
Inputs by Mr Vivek Subramanyam, Founder & CEO- Altlife
Give a brief info about your startup?
LiveAltlife helps people fight and overcome lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, PCOS, Obesity and hypertension through a one-stop solution that includes food, fitness, mental well-being, accurate medical diagnosis & expert consultations powered by a smart high-tech ecosystem.
We have put in a lot of efforts and designed technology, processes, and interventions that make the experience easy and convenient for people to sustain the journey. In addition, the solution has been designed to be extremely engaging and enjoyable while the core of you is getting fixed to improve your health. The LiveAltlife solution is safe, natural, convenient, and built on cutting-edge science and something our clients can adopt on a sustainable basis.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
I had thoroughly absorbed myself in work to establish my last venture– from inception to finding our feet in the marketplace, to raising money from IDG and Sequoia and eventually exiting to NASDAQ-listed Verisk Analytics. While on that journey, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes first, which eventually morphed into diabetes. Like any other person, based on Doctor’s advice, I started taking the prescribed medication and continued with my normal life and lifestyle. As the years passed, my blood sugar levels kept increasing along with the dosage of medication. I turned into what I call an “Unhealthy Experimenter”. That is reading and researching quite a bit and trying various experiments and lifestyle interventions. While all gave a glimmer of hope and showed some improvement, eventually they were unsustainable, and I was back to square one.
Once I had exited from the previous company, I had a lot of time on my hand. My relentless focus was on understanding what changes in our body when there is an onset of Diabetes and why we consider it to be chronic and progressive. This took me down a path of extensive research and reading and to speak with multiple practitioners and researchers in this space.
With an in-depth understanding of the cutting-edge science on this subject, I realized that medicines and other interventions are primarily focused on managing the symptoms and hence it would never lead to actual improvement. I understood the root causes to be imbalanced metabolism, unhealthy cells that are not functioning to their potential, and weakening of the body’s immunity and other defence mechanisms. It became clear that over time, based on various lifestyle choices we make, these become worse leading to diabetes, hypertension or any other lifestyle condition. Based on the knowledge of the underlying changes that drive disease, I also had a hypothesis of what should be done to solve this. I also realized that the scale of this problem is quite massive and growing at a rapid clip.
This is true for India and most countries across the world as well. Close to a billion people suffer from or are at a risk for lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, PCOS, hypertension, cardiovascular risk, etc. And over the next couple of decades, this is posed to affect 2 billion people. And the age at which this impacts people is also becoming lower and lower. I realized this is a big problem and needs to be solved.
Based on our hypothesis, we did a pilot study with around 15 people and saw extraordinary outcomes with diabetics not showing underlying signs at the end of the program and getting off their medication, along with a significant loss of weight. I then started to build out a multi-disciplinary team that was as passionate and as eager to solve this problem along with me.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I was a co-founder and CEO at Fintellix that was IDG and Sequoia funded and an exit to Verisk Analytics. Prior experience in Cognizant, iGate, Citibank NA, TCS. B.E. from NIT Surathkal, MBA from IIM Lucknow.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are currently serving Bangalore city but would gradually scale the business and expand our reach in terms of geography. Based on online purchases, Bangalore is the most fitness conscious city, followed by Delhi and Mumbai. On the contrary, Bengaluru recorded a very high incidence of poorly controlled blood sugar in young people. It seems people like there is a need for solutions that make sure that Bangaloreans are healthy and fit. So, Bangalore is just a start.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
While proverbially there are many things that keep me awake at night, literally, as the LiveAltlife journey has taught me, sleep is very important for good health. It’s not just about rest and rejuvenation but about cellular maintenance that drives good health. A bulk of this happens when we sleep. So, I have ensured that I sleep well and for adequate time.
That being said, I think what I am passionate about and paranoid about is not doing enough, meaningfully enough, fast enough, forcefully enough to help millions of people in India and globally that are victims of Diabetes and other lifestyle disorders improve their health. With the science we know, the evidence we have seen and the solutions we have come up with, we should be partnering millions of people suffering from Diabetes and other lifestyle disorders to get significantly better health outcomes and quickly and help the world get healthier.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
There are quite a few folks in the marketplace that are trying to solve this problem. The approaches are all different. Some are tech platforms that help track data and behaviour, and drive improvement; others are advisory companies, and yet others are in single vectors like devices or fitness, etc. Given the size of the problem, I do hope each of us ends up being successful in partnering with clients to improve their health. Some of the people focused on this area include Twin Health, Well Thy, Beato, HealthifyMe, Truweight, etc.
In the context of a single player that has a unified offering with all vectors needed and where the services are provided without being just an advisory, we do believe we are all unique.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
I can say that in today’s demanding world, no doubt, work-life becomes an integral part of personal life and in some situations, it becomes hard to delineate the boundary between the two. However, I try to overcome such situations with another important component of our life viz. Mental and emotional balance.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
As we prove out the execution in Bangalore and have a working business model with all assumptions playing out is when we believe we will seek institutional funding to scale this across cities/countries. We do expect to be raising money in 2021.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
Many people believe I am a machine, a robot. Always on, always focused and spending all my waking hours working hard to try and achieve the goals for LiveAltlife. This is definitely not true. I do like to relax and unwind and also do get emotional when I hear stories of human suffering. However, I also realize that for us to realize the massive mission we have undertaken at LiveAltlife to help people suffering from Diabetes and other lifestyle disorders globally to get to better health outcomes, we have to work hard and fast and smart and relentlessly and make certain sacrifices and take some hard calls along the way. It will all be worth it in the end.
What gets you excited about this company?
I have been a diabetic for more than a decade, and when I tried LiveAltlife science, I could see a significant positive change in my health parameters and overall, wellbeing. I was ecstatic, and I witnessed the same feeling among our pilot participants. Someone was happy about getting off the medicines. Someone was happy about getting back to a healthy shape, and someone was happy about going back to normal health from being prediabetic. I want everyone suffering from lifestyle conditions to have that feeling. This thought keeps me excited and going.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
The day starts at around 5:30/6 and starts with a walk or a yoga/fitness session. I then get ready and bid my still sleepy family goodbye and tell my daughter to ensure she gets up on time for her school. From then on till about 8:30/9 PM is at the office. I plan to do my creative and individual work early on in the day and later in the day once there are no transactional calls or meetings. Between around 10 through till 6 is primarily in various meetings and reviews and client conversations. All my meals happen in the office between around 10:30 to 7:30. Once I get back, I do spend time with my family and pets. Maybe helping with some homework or listening to how their day has been. I settle into bed around 11 and start some reading and typically do turn in for the day before midnight.
I do work over the weekend as well, but at my own pace and also the focus is long term and time dedicated to deeper thinking and reading. And of course, balancing time over the weekend between work-related endeavours and family and social time.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
The founding team comes with rich entrepreneurial experience and levels of expertise in various functional areas.
There are a total of 5 people in the founding team including me. Purushotham Govindarajan is CFO and Naren Santhanam is CTO and we were together during our last venture that is Fintellix. Monika Manchanda is Chief Culinary Officer at LiveAltlife and we have known each other through the social circle. She is a seasoned food entrepreneur so when we discussed the idea of LiveAltlife, it seemed like a shared goal for us. Kartik Sarwade is our COO and we have owned each other from our IIM Lucknow days.
One common thread is that all of us in the founding team are victims to one or more of the lifestyle disorders and are waging a war for themselves through this journey while working as a team to help wage a war on lifestyle diseases and help the world become healthier.
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