Even during his busy schedule as founder and CEO of Hit 100, the first company worldwide to tackle the issues faced by people with diabetes or pre-diabetes in a “doctor meets chef” way, Karn Ghosh has answered our questions on what it’s like being starting a startup, what qualities to look for in team members, and what the “one hundred” thing is all about!
Why did you become interested in the area of diabetes management?
In my time working in the public healthcare system in Taree in rural NSW, I had the stark realisation that the current obesity crisis was leading to a ‘tsunami’ of preventable lifestyle-related diseases, including type II diabetes. One Australian is diagnosed with diabetes every five minutes, and there are now over two million Australians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Because of this, for the first time in the history of mankind we live in a world where our next generation of children has a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents.
I feel incredibly strongly about this issue, and really believe in the power of business and technology to drive meaningful impactful change in the area of preventative medicine, in the public health context. The system is fundamentally broken, and we as a society are failing those people that develop preventable lifestyle-related disease.
I felt compelled to act, and so in 2014 founded Hit 100 to improve the health of our country.
As Founder & CEO of SportsMed Studio and Hit 100, you have made a transition from being a clinician as a physiotherapist to a business person. Can you tell us about this process?
Whilst I did study to be a clinical physiotherapist, I have always been intellectually curious about business. I grew up in an entrepreneurial household and from a young age was exposed to ways business could be used to solve real problems. I also did an internship at a management consulting firm while studying physio, which further broadened my skillset and opened my eyes to the inefficiencies of the public healthcare system. Whilst working 6 days a week as a sports physio, I founded SportsMed Studio to bootstrap my first app Stretch HD from concept to market (now the leading cross-platform stretching app globally).
After being compelled to leave physio to drive healthy behaviour change at scale, I was well advanced in preparing my application to business school in North America when I was introduced to my founding investors (and current Board directors) who shared my vision that everyone deserves the right to a happy healthy life, and access to the tools and resources to enable this. We came together with a blank page and a mandate to build a company that would positively improve the health, and the lives, of millions of people.
So I’ve transitioned to being a ‘business person’ by approaching each day with great work ethic, humility and an appetite to learn. I’ve been hugely fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring and accomplished people who have been mentoring me along the journey. In many ways I’ve been doing a ‘real-life MBA’!
How have you differentiated Hit 100 to be different to meal delivery companies that exist in the marketplace?
Hit 100 is the only company both in Australia and worldwide that was founded to specifically improve the lives of people living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, that offers an individualised ‘doctor meets chef’ food delivery solution.
In this age of dietary ‘mis-information’ and food fads, it’s confusing for people to know who to listen to. That’s why we brought together a team of diabetes experts to develop our meals and a unique 100 points system – designed specifically to help people manage their diabetes by making healthier food choices.
Our points system is a key differentiator, and it comes to life by filling in a 60 second health profile (including height, weight, age, gender, physical activity and weight loss goals) we’re able personalize the experience to individual requirements and goals. All you have to do is log your food and drink intake and score points based on how healthy the food or drink is for you – and Hit 100 points a day!
We’ve been blown away by the positive response we’ve had, with some remarkable stories of improvements in blood sugar control and weight management.
At a time where we can order food or a taxi on our smartphones at a press of a button, we seem strangely reconciled to dialling back the clock a couple of decades and being at the mercy of a healthcare system that is failing us. The future looks like a technology-led disruption of chronic care management. And we’re excited to be innovating here.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in building Hit 100?
Starting a business and getting it off the ground requires passion and resilience. It can also be a lonely road to navigate as a startup CEO, because at the end of the day you’re ultimately accountable for everything.
If running a big business is like flying an A380, then startup is like flying a 1940s bi-plane with limited fuel and resources, where you feel every little bit of turbulence. On the positive side, you can change direction pretty quickly and actually take it wherever you like.
Some of the biggest challenges have been in taking product to launch (and all the detail involved here), hiring the right people and more recently raising our first round of external finance.
We’ve navigated all of those stormy periods and have flown out the other side into calm skies, still resolute on our journey towards our ‘true north’ – a healthier Australia for all.
What is the biggest business lesson you have learned so far with Hit 100?
That the only constant is in fact change. In running an early-stage startup I’ve very quickly learned not only to be comfortable with the great unknown, but also to embrace it.
Elon Musk once said that “running a startup is like eating broken glass and staring into the abyss… after a while you start to enjoy the taste of blood in your mouth!” I’ve learnt a huge amount about myself in the most challenging of times, in particular my capacity to take an absolute beating with a smile on my face.
Getting a new consumer business off the ground is hugely challenging, but I still jump out of bed every morning feeling like I’m the master of my destiny and our team is on the way to achieving truly great things.
Your team for Hit 100 involves an operations manager, a tech manager and board members. What qualities do you look for in your team members?
We have a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board in place, while our full team now includes an Ops Manager, Product Manager, Tech Lead, Brand Manager & Dietitian, Customer Service Manager and a Dietitian.
The over-arching quality I look for in team members is a shared belief in our vision to drive meaningful, impactful healthy behaviour change for individuals, families and communities across our land. I’m incredibly proud to have built such an inspiring, passionate and hard-working team of high-integrity individuals who are motivated to be a part of building a new ‘well movement’ of health, mindfulness and sustainable consumption.
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