In our second guest post for Responsible Business Week, Noy Shani and Ambika Singh Sampat, from health and fitness start-up Fitbanker, tell us how they’re working towards community change as they grow beyond their first year of operation.

A successful business needs to be profitable. But at Fitbanker we believe that alone is not enough: to do well, a company must do good at the same time. If you’re serving a community — and that’s what we’re trying to do — social impact must be part of the business model.

So what is our impact?

At Fitbanker, a preventive health startup that offers 90-day transformation programmes we ask our customers what their “greater why” is: what really matters to them in transforming their health and well-being. Some just want to be the best and healthiest they can be. Many of our older customers want to live long and healthy lives so they can see more of their grandchildren. For others, it’s about influencing others’ perceptions of exercise and nutrition.

Whatever it is, pinpointing this ‘why’ enables our participants — students, parents, retired people, professionals, even doctors — to stay committed to the challenge, especially when the going gets tough.

Sharing the why

But we as an organisation also have a greater why: we thrive on restoring the health, fitness and wellbeing of busy human beings.

From Fat Banker to Fitbanker: Founder Ronnie Rich
From Fat Banker to Fitbanker: Founder Ronnie Rich

Ronnie Rich, our founder, went through his own transformative health journey after his wife had a miscarriage three years ago.

He realised how much family and friends bank on your fitness. They bank on you staying healthy and alive. And being alive, for us, means full of life and energy, not just getting by.
As a radical health movement, we encourage people to share their greater whys and ‘before’ pictures on our public Facebook page when they sign up.

These public declarations can have significant impact. They inspire participants’ families, friends and colleagues across the globe, involving them in their journeys and often leading them to change poor nutrition and lifestyle habits — even if they themselves have never engaged directly with Fitbanker.

It has also been incredibly humbling to see the programme helping to address detrimental health issues. Some participants have told us how severe menstrual cramps have stopped; others report feeling decades younger and more energetic than they have in years; others have reduced their blood pressure and cholesterol levels dramatically. Remarkably, some have reported losing 8 dress sizes, 16.5kg or 8 inches off their waist size.

Growing a community

Beyond the lives we impact through our programmes, at Fitbanker we have created a Pound for Pound Campaign, where every pound shed on the challenge will translate to £1 donated to our chosen charity, AbleChildAfrica.

On a more day-to-day level, responsible business to us means listening to our customers’ requirements, responding to their concerns at an individual level, and supporting them every step of the way.

We have impacted over a hundred lives directly in eleven months, and thousands more indirectly. Our rapidly growing social media following, in communities across 15 countries and five continents, tells us some of the stories of this impact.

Amid all the excitement, inspiration and growth, the challenges of being a startup are our constant companion.

We communicate with our customers using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which allows us to approach and hear from people directly. However, using multiple channels comes with its own barriers in collating data, which risk being duplicated — at times this is our biggest struggle.

By getting to know our customers, we can offer more customised solutions. That can be time consuming and may mean responding to customers is slower, but it’s a worthwhile investment.

Our ambition is to transform a billion lives. To do that, we have to keep growing, to keep generating great content that inspires action, and to keep finding ways to empower communities. Most importantly, we have to stay truly connected to those we serve by providing personal and professional service, however large we become — as that’s where we will make the greatest impact.

Watch Fitbanker’s founder Ronnie explain how it all began, below, or find out more at www.fitbanker.com