The Gray Hair Speaketh

Advice that is largely Unsolicited.. – a very useful diet and fitness resource

Himanshu Khurana, co-founder, asked me to review his startup,

Category: B2C -> Healthcare -> Diet and Fitness

What does it do? is an excellent destination for those conscious of diet and fitness. It provides ample information about dieting, different fitness regimes, lifestyle based information, and also has nutritionists on call, for personal assistance.

What more?
The site is very well designed, and although it caters to an Indian audience, it has a very international appeal, and an excellent look-and-feel. In addition to one-way information about diet and fitness, the site also enables interactivity, in the form of a user being able to track his efforts and target certain fitness goals, and see the progress in form of charts and graphs. Lifemojo also offers tracking and updates via mobile, and engages its users via social media through Facebook, Twitter etc.

My quick two cents: is positioned very well. It is doing an excellent job in terms of its presentation, its focus, the detailing, the value that it provides to its users. Subject to getting the revenue puzzle right, LifeMojo is destined to go places.

Wisdom Nuggets in more detail:
1. At the outset, I am very impressed by the business. So I would suggest to the management, to continue to maintain a very high class of service, in all respects, and establish excellent brand equity for its service. It is a service idea that will appeal to the better class of society. After all, it is the more privileged section of society who have problems of weight and diabetes, usually. A classy feel will be appreciated by this demography, and LifeMojo must ensure that it does not sacrifice this appeal.

2. The “about us” section of the site mentions numbers in few millions, as people in India, referring to dieticians and fitness programs, and also those suffering from diabetes. These numbers become a kind of market size that LifeMojo can address. So the potential market size is large. How many of them make LifeMojo their online destination will be the question.

3. The challenge with diet programs or fitness regimes is that people do not stay disciplined long enough. There is a tendency to “go back to the old ways”. If LifeMojo can become a close companion of sorts, to these people, and somehow manage to keep people on track, then LifeMojo will become an integral part of the person’s life. And in that, could be the major breakthrough for LifeMojo’s sustenance.

4. Even after paying fees, there are statistics of very high drop out rates from fitness programs and gymnasiums. With an impersonal and free service, there is a bigger risk of drop outs from LifeMojo. Simply having an ability to track the progress is not enough to ensure a member’s continuity with LifeMojo. The challenge for LifeMojo will be to understand at a psychological level, the reasons why people drop off fitness regimes, and to find a way to address this issue well.

5. Community can be one of the critical pieces of the puzzle. People tend to remain members of a group yoga or aerobics class longer than sustaining an independent diet program. Groups matter. If there is a community, and it is active and buzzing, and it involves large participation, that could be one of the reasons for members continuing with LifeMojo.

6. The revenue puzzle is definitely there. Himanshu informs that revenues are expected from nutrionist and fitness consultations online, and on phone. This appears to be very “iffy”. People are comfortable to visit such consultants personally, so what percentage of the potential market will be happy to seek online or telephonic consultation, is something to be seen.

7. There could possibly be a freemium model introduced to generate some revenues from the users. Provided there is real value offered, and which can be appreciated by users. A personalized consultation, with the presence of an individual nutriotionist or a dietician, is not a great online model. It is also not scaleable easily. For an online model to be exciting, each subsequent transaction should be at marginal cost. And which points to an automated self-help situation, rather than having a personalized consultation. Alternate ways will need to be found.

8. Are there pockets in the country, say in semi-urban centers, where good quality dieticians or nutritionists are not available? Can the service specifically target such pockets? Or if there are sports related recommendations or other specific conditions related recommendations (e.g. pregnant women, seniors, recuperating patients, etc.) that can be addressed, then again, there is potential to create a good niche for those. There could be diet and nutrition recommendations for growing children. As soon as a high level of knowledge is created in the niche segment, there is also opportunity to go and tie up with large groups, e.g. private schools or hospitals etc.

9. The other option to scale is to go global. However then, the knowledge of global challenges, diseases, lifestyles, food habits, etc. all have to be incorporated in the knowledge base.

In summary, I would conclude that LifeMojo is an excellent proposition. It offers good value, which is presented well, it is interactive and engaging. However due to the nature of vertical that it is in, there is an inherent high drop out rate. Even when there is personal engagement offline. It can be worse in an online situation. LifeMojo will need to figure this out, and also ensure that revenues are generated. Otherwise, there is a risk of an excellent idea, not reaching high scales, simply on account of low adaption and lack of consistent traction from users.


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March 18, 2009 Posted by | Healthcare, Startup | , , , , , , | 6 Comments – an excellent destination for vocabulary improvement

Amit Aggarwal, the founder, asked me to review his startup,

Mnemonic Dictionary

Mnemonic Dictionary

Category: B2C -> Education -> Vocabulary

What does it do? is an excellent source for all kinds of fun and learning, with and around words. It is a destination to expand your vocabulary, play word games, take quizzes, etc. In short, is quite a complete, one place destination for any word lover and words learner!

What more? features a word of the day, for those who want to enhance their vocabulary gradually. It also has word lists for people working towards competitive exams like GRE, GMAT etc. The site exploits the various features of community by having an active forum, chat rooms, via email and also an active presence on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
For revenues, there are advertisements and affiliate relationships across the site.

*** Addendum ***

Amit pointed out to me a very interesting USP that MnemonicDictionary offers, in regards to remembering new words, viz. the concept of mnemonics.

For example:

  • Onus (meaning: burden)
    Mnemonic — ON-US you are ON US ie. you are burden to me,


  • Caulk , which means ‘to make watertight’ can be broken as follows:
    Mnemonic — caulk sounds like cork which makes bottles watertight

*** End of addendum ***

My quick two cents: is positioned very well in its area, and does most things right. In terms of exploiting the various options to an ideal web business, the site is doing nearly all that it can do. The challenge may just come in creating larger revenue base. If currently, the business is running at a low cost with a small team, they are probably well poised to make money. Some out-of-the-box thinking will be necessary however, to aim for large revenues.

Wisdom Nuggets in more detail:
1. There is genuinely not a lot to fix at a fundamental level, in Indeed, I am very pleased with the entire execution of the business. So the first thing that I would simply suggest is to hold it nice and tight, and keep up the good work.

2. Vocabulary building, for a common person, is a fun thing to do, for a few minutes a day, at most. So for the large user base, this is where the engagement with MnemonicDictionary will saturate. Can MD find a way to engage with such users beyond the few minutes a day, that they take, to learn a new word? This is where the thought juices must flow.

3. Of course, there are those who are working their way towards some competitive tests. For them, there is indeed a larger engagement possible at MD. And they will spend more time doing word lists or taking small tests. In these cases, MD still does not deliver a complete solution for these students. Thus the student may be still using other training forums / classes and will be coming here, only for additional support or tests. If MD can offer full fledged and complete training and testing environments for tests like GRE, TOEFL, GMAT etc., then they can secure a larger lock-in over this user base.

4. Due to the briefer engagement with the larger mass user base, and an inadequate lock-in with the students working on competitive exams, the revenues may not be large or consistent. Since they are restricted to advertising models only. An opportunity exists in introducing (as mentioned above) full fledged training and testing models, and convert the service into a freemium model, rather than keeping it totally free for the users.

5. If there is an opportunity to become a value-added-partner or even a white-labeled partner with established testing service providers like Princeton Review and Kaplan, involved in competitive tests, that may generate good additional traction, in terms of revenues.

6. The other time that a lot of language skills are learned by people, are during immigration to western countries. Here again, the opportunity could be, to develop training and testing modules for immigration related language skills, and increase earning potential for the site.

7. Overall, there is indeed, a huge demand, at least in countries like India, for English language skills. Notwithstanding current downturn, there is a basic irony – of large scale unemployment in tier 2, tier 3 towns, on the one hand, and a large demand of good English language skilled persons, amongst BPOs, call centers and the like. This gap points to a single and simple factor – English language skills. Due to lack of good teachers, who can travel to these small centers and teach English there, this gap remains. Can MD create a remote delivery model, for teaching English? This may be an ambitious leap from where they are, but can then create a significant opportunity for jumping the scale of the business.

8. The other option for jumping scale would also be, to create a proper English learning platform for people of other native mother tongues. Be it the many Indian language native speakers or even say, Chinese persons. Having covered the one side of the puzzle, namely the English language part of it, if MD can invest in the native language side, one language at a time, then they can present “learning English for Hindi speaking people” or offerings of that kind.

9. Lastly, there is a big opportunity also in learning how to SPEAK the language. With audio-video becoming common place on the Internet, if MD can find ways to deliver language skills, also via audio and video media, then the users can also learn pronounciation and spoken English.

In summary, I can state that is on a good foundation, and if they decide their larger focus well, and work towards it, they can become a sizeable and very successful business.


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March 18, 2009 Posted by | Education - Vocabulary, Social Networking, Startup | , , , , , , | 4 Comments