Exclusive Interview: Pooja Sachin Duggal, Founder & CEO of HealthHunt - Startup Terminal

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Exclusive Interview: Pooja Sachin Duggal, Founder & CEO of HealthHunt

Daily well-being, mindfulness, and self-care should begin at a very early age in life, and not when diseases and lifestyle issues kick in. Pooja Sachin Duggal rightly realised about the important concept of holistic living in this fast-paced world. Following her passion for holistic living, she decided to jump into the world of entrepreneurship. Thus Asia's first fully integrated mind-body wellness platform ‘Healthhunt’ was born.  

A Bootstrap start-up ‘Healthhunt’ aims to disrupt the understanding of daily wellbeing. Within a year of its existence, Healthhunt has directly impacted 5 million users around the globe and continues to be Asia's most preferred SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) wellness platform.

A renowned nutritionist and also one of the top five women in the global diamond industry, Pooja Sachin Duggal, Founder & CEO of HealthHunt believes on holistic living instead of healthy living.

In an exclusive interview with Startup Terminal, Pooja Sachin Duggal, Founder & CEO of HealthHunt shares more insight about her venture and future goals.


ST: What was your inspiration behind starting up a new venture?

Pooja: After 15 years in the cut-throat diamond industry, I realised that anyone else in my place would have started to feel the burn, but my dedication to yoga and healthy eating had kept me going.

I was the youngest non-male member of the senior team at Rapaport. So, while diamonds remained my first love, I found my interest secretly gravitating towards health and wellness, as clich├ęd as it may sound, I wanted to make an impact on the world around me. Having a sedentary lifestyle can have a huge negative impact on your health. Sitting is the new smoking, and yet we underestimate the impact it has on our health on a daily basis. 61% of the total deaths in our country are due to lifestyle diseases; which means that they are preventable and lifestyle modifiable - if people realize in time and begin making healthy choices. Therefore, I decided to take my health in my own hands by digging deeper into nutrition, fitness, mental well-being, and organic beauty, which then brought me to the eureka moment when I decided to scale this to millions of people.

ST: Please tell us more about your organization.

Pooja: Healthhunt is Asia's first fully integrated mind-body wellness platform.

Healthhunt aims to #disrupt the understanding of daily wellbeing. In India alone, 25% of the population may die at the age of 70, on account of an unhealthy lifestyle. Daily wellbeing, mindfulness, and self-care should begin at a very early age in life, and not when diseases and lifestyle issues kick in. Healthhunt is Asia's first fully integrated mind-body wellness platform. Being a content-led marketplace, with a wide listing of health and wellness experts, as well as service providers, makes us a one stop shop. We are fully committed to generating awareness through holistic, verified and actionable content, which is very easy to apply to your day-to-day life. Taking into account each person’s holistic needs, we are committed to aiding you organically through this process. We believe that the human body is most perfectly designed by nature. If well maintained, it is capable of miraculous expressions. Therefore, a healthy, disease-free life is your natural right. The key is to provide yourself with just a little care, by making conscious lifestyle choices daily. We have been successful with making millions of people join our wellness revolution.

ST: What business opportunities do you see particularly in your sector?

Pooja: 1 in 20 searches on Google today are on health. Clearly, people are looking for answers. Healthhunt aims to disrupt this sector by providing credible, verified, actionable information and making sure our users don’t get lost in the absyss of mediocre content out there (that is poorly researched and unverified a majority of the time.) We also have a seamless integration model that allows this content to be shared with businesses and its users. As a health and wellness expert, I see a tremendous value-add in creating a unique user experience and becoming “everyone’s private health coach”. We have a deep understanding of our user, the journey they are partaking and we want to add value to their lives and empower them with meaningful, trustworthy information in a language of their choice.

ST: How has been your entrepreneurship journey so far?

Pooja: Thrilling, to say at the least. Coming from a background where I was handling diamonds worth billions, speaking to governments across diamond trading countries, opening up trade, creating foolproof systems and deep customer management, a lot of the principles have remained the same. The only difference is that at healthhunt, we create the kind of wellness content that helps people live their healthiest, happiest lives…and that is more valuable than the most precious diamonds in the world. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but the feeling is truly inexplicable.

ST: As an entrepreneur, what challenges do you face in your day to day professional life, if any?

Pooja: I've faced a singular challenge since the beginning of my career: Gender stereotypes. As the managing director for Rapaport India, for several years my ‘well-wishers’ told me that the diamond business was cut-throat and, therefore, no place for the fairer gender. When I openly condemned the influx of blood diamonds into India, I was again advised to back off from such 'bold' actions since 'it wasn't my place'. I never let stereotypes stop me then, and I still continue to fight them every day. Today, as a full time mother and entrepreneur, people often ask me how I'm managing the "impossible task" of juggling healthhunt, my start-up, and my little one, Aramnaya. At healthhunt you’ll see women leading teams, making critical decisions, and speaking up when work demands it – everything that women are often advised not to do. I believe that you can make the impossible happen when you purge yourself stereotypical notions pertaining to the roles each gender is supposed to play. We work together and we kill it!

ST: How big is your team? Are you planning to hire more?

Pooja: We have 60 experts and 14 full-time employees. We are looking to hire data scientists, product experts and candidates with a strong business background.

ST: What are your future plans?

Pooja: We want to make a lasting mark across Asia in the Direct Primary Care trend which I believe to be the future of medicine. Direct Primary Care is a popular trend in the United States, but if there is a country that can truly benefit from it, then it is India considering how rampant lifestyle diseases are in our country. Every day, on our web and social interaction, we find several queries coming from 20-30 something that are eager to share their concerns on weight gain, sleep loss, and mood swings. Since our content takes a very holistic approach to healthcare, we have been and want to continue impacting the lives of many more people...even globally, in a positive way, thus leading them to fully understand daily wellbeing and begin relying more on the natural healing capacity of our bodies.

We have plans to set up offices in 4 major cities in India and grow our corporate customer profile into hundreds by middle of this year. We have a team of superiorly-trained holistic experts in place who will be growing this part of our business.

We will continue to grow our health council that already hosts experts from around the world, focus on more strategic partnerships and help other wellness brands reach their target audience through healthhunt.

Pooja Sachin Duggal,
Founder & CEO of HealthHunt