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features

Fit Tech People: Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro

When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 2

What was your background before co-founding Auro?
I was an algorithmic trader for Goldman Sachs, where I spent 11 years before starting Auro. Since childhood, sports and fitness have been my passion and I’ve played all kinds of sports including cricket, football and badminton.

How did the idea for Auro come about?
While I was at Goldman Sachs, I really struggled to find as much time for team sport and instead took a keen interest in running. I was looking for a coach and I struggled to find a good one that would work around my ridiculous schedule. I had been exposed to the boutique fitness class concepts in London and I wanted to bring the boutique style of training and motivation to people like myself, who need it on demand.

I wanted to build a consumer-focused product that would bring best-in-class training and technology and deliver this at scale with personalisation.

How did you and Karthik Narayanan come together to co-found Auro?
Karthik and I are distant cousins and we have known each other since childhood, having been in the same school as well. He had gone on to work for a bunch of great tech companies including Qualcomm and Samsung so I knew he would be the right partner for me in this venture.

What exactly is Auro?
Auro is a connected fitness/wellness app. We provide on-demand classes in 11+ categories for fitness or wellness for the home, gym or outdoors, with new classes every week. The classes are led by experts in their field – you can train with ex-Olympian Ben at home using body weight or go for a guided run with our triathlon coach Lucy, or just find your zen with Michael in a meditation class.

Music is such a key aspect of a fitness class and most products just make you listen to stock music. We work with our trainers to make killer playlists, similar to a boutique studio class, but if you don’t like our music then you can overlay your own from Spotify, Apple or Amazon music.

We also connect with 20+ devices so you can track all your metrics in real time and really understand your progress with Auro.

Why did you choose to create fitness instruction without a screen?
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen.

When you run, do burpees, meditate or even do yoga, it’s not a great experience to keep squinting at a tiny screen. Even when you do yoga in a studio, chances are you will never see the coach unless you’re at the front.

We do understand that for many users, particularly those that are new to fitness or new to a particular discipline, they will need some visual assistance, so all of our posture-based classes offer video guides which are designed to help users to master the moves before they jump into the class. However our belief is that once you start the class, your trainer should be able to guide you completely, solely through vocal instruction.

Our mantra for users is ‘stop squinting, start sweating’!

How has Auro evolved and grown since you launched in 2017?
We launched the product in 2017 as a video livestreaming product and then we relaunched in 2018 as an audio product. Since 2018, we’ve grown to 170,000+ users in 50+ countries.

We have large diversity in our userbase, be it age, sex, geography or income. We’re reaching a wide base of users and I’m so happy to see that we’re helping so many different people.

We started out with just running classes but now we have nearly 700 classes across 11 categories, with everything from walking, to strength training, to meditation, to sleep.

How do you keep the content fresh and interesting?
We’re recording content every other day and there are new classes being released every week – that’s one of the key value propositions for our members. There’s always fresh content to look forward to.

Since we started we’ve significantly expanded our offering based on requests from our customers – recently we added stair climber workouts for the gym, stress relief and sleep classes for those dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and pilates classes for those with bad backs from sitting on a chair all day at home.

Tell us about Auro’s newest features and upgrades. Why were these priorities?
Last year, we added running tracking for all our outdoor runs so users can track their pace, distance, route and time splits all from inside the app. So when you are doing a threshold run, you can actually see in real time what that threshold pace is and see it improve as you progress.

We have also added integration with Apple and Amazon music so users can overlay their own playlists from these services with the voice of the coach.

These were both driven by requests from our consumers – requests play quite a significant role in terms of shaping new product features and class content for our business.

What technologies do you use to personalise and optimise the service for individual users?
We use recommender algorithms that take user data, their preferences, their previous consumption and consumption of other users with similar goals to personalise the content and programming for the users.

We are also seeing an increasing percentage of users using wearables to track their workout metrics and we’re working on some big upgrades that will allow us to use their wearable data to further personalise the workouts to the fitness level and goals of users.

What’s the average length of time that users continue their membership for?
Ninety per cent of our users stick around for at least a year, with a significant percentage of them staying with us for longer. We’re still quite a young company but if the response from our existing users is any indication, our retention numbers are very, very good.

What are your plans for Auro?
There are 60 million gym members in Europe and 100m+ others who are physically active so the opportunity is massive. We want to grow our subscriber base by 10 times over the next two years. As ambitious as that sounds, I believe that’s totally possible.

COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of digital substantially and today’s consumer is much more conscious of their health and overall wellbeing. I believe there will be multiple winners in this category.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
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Going hybrid

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Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
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Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

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We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

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We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
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Get Fit Tech
Sign up for the free digital edition of Fit Tech magazine and the free weekly Fit Tech ezine
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Independent service & maintenance
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features

Fit Tech People: Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro

When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 2

What was your background before co-founding Auro?
I was an algorithmic trader for Goldman Sachs, where I spent 11 years before starting Auro. Since childhood, sports and fitness have been my passion and I’ve played all kinds of sports including cricket, football and badminton.

How did the idea for Auro come about?
While I was at Goldman Sachs, I really struggled to find as much time for team sport and instead took a keen interest in running. I was looking for a coach and I struggled to find a good one that would work around my ridiculous schedule. I had been exposed to the boutique fitness class concepts in London and I wanted to bring the boutique style of training and motivation to people like myself, who need it on demand.

I wanted to build a consumer-focused product that would bring best-in-class training and technology and deliver this at scale with personalisation.

How did you and Karthik Narayanan come together to co-found Auro?
Karthik and I are distant cousins and we have known each other since childhood, having been in the same school as well. He had gone on to work for a bunch of great tech companies including Qualcomm and Samsung so I knew he would be the right partner for me in this venture.

What exactly is Auro?
Auro is a connected fitness/wellness app. We provide on-demand classes in 11+ categories for fitness or wellness for the home, gym or outdoors, with new classes every week. The classes are led by experts in their field – you can train with ex-Olympian Ben at home using body weight or go for a guided run with our triathlon coach Lucy, or just find your zen with Michael in a meditation class.

Music is such a key aspect of a fitness class and most products just make you listen to stock music. We work with our trainers to make killer playlists, similar to a boutique studio class, but if you don’t like our music then you can overlay your own from Spotify, Apple or Amazon music.

We also connect with 20+ devices so you can track all your metrics in real time and really understand your progress with Auro.

Why did you choose to create fitness instruction without a screen?
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen.

When you run, do burpees, meditate or even do yoga, it’s not a great experience to keep squinting at a tiny screen. Even when you do yoga in a studio, chances are you will never see the coach unless you’re at the front.

We do understand that for many users, particularly those that are new to fitness or new to a particular discipline, they will need some visual assistance, so all of our posture-based classes offer video guides which are designed to help users to master the moves before they jump into the class. However our belief is that once you start the class, your trainer should be able to guide you completely, solely through vocal instruction.

Our mantra for users is ‘stop squinting, start sweating’!

How has Auro evolved and grown since you launched in 2017?
We launched the product in 2017 as a video livestreaming product and then we relaunched in 2018 as an audio product. Since 2018, we’ve grown to 170,000+ users in 50+ countries.

We have large diversity in our userbase, be it age, sex, geography or income. We’re reaching a wide base of users and I’m so happy to see that we’re helping so many different people.

We started out with just running classes but now we have nearly 700 classes across 11 categories, with everything from walking, to strength training, to meditation, to sleep.

How do you keep the content fresh and interesting?
We’re recording content every other day and there are new classes being released every week – that’s one of the key value propositions for our members. There’s always fresh content to look forward to.

Since we started we’ve significantly expanded our offering based on requests from our customers – recently we added stair climber workouts for the gym, stress relief and sleep classes for those dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and pilates classes for those with bad backs from sitting on a chair all day at home.

Tell us about Auro’s newest features and upgrades. Why were these priorities?
Last year, we added running tracking for all our outdoor runs so users can track their pace, distance, route and time splits all from inside the app. So when you are doing a threshold run, you can actually see in real time what that threshold pace is and see it improve as you progress.

We have also added integration with Apple and Amazon music so users can overlay their own playlists from these services with the voice of the coach.

These were both driven by requests from our consumers – requests play quite a significant role in terms of shaping new product features and class content for our business.

What technologies do you use to personalise and optimise the service for individual users?
We use recommender algorithms that take user data, their preferences, their previous consumption and consumption of other users with similar goals to personalise the content and programming for the users.

We are also seeing an increasing percentage of users using wearables to track their workout metrics and we’re working on some big upgrades that will allow us to use their wearable data to further personalise the workouts to the fitness level and goals of users.

What’s the average length of time that users continue their membership for?
Ninety per cent of our users stick around for at least a year, with a significant percentage of them staying with us for longer. We’re still quite a young company but if the response from our existing users is any indication, our retention numbers are very, very good.

What are your plans for Auro?
There are 60 million gym members in Europe and 100m+ others who are physically active so the opportunity is massive. We want to grow our subscriber base by 10 times over the next two years. As ambitious as that sounds, I believe that’s totally possible.

COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of digital substantially and today’s consumer is much more conscious of their health and overall wellbeing. I believe there will be multiple winners in this category.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

Let’s live in the future to improve today
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

35 million people a week participate in strength training. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features