Ritu Soni Srivastava

Ritu Soni Srivastava is the founder and CEO of Obino, a technology enabled personal health coach. What we loved about the conversation we had, was the human earnestness that shone through and her free laughter that underlined her gratitude for being where she is.

“I want to be a radio jockey,” was a life changing statement as this sales professional jumped into the world of mass media thanks to a calculated whim that struck her in the middle of Ballard Estate (Mumbai) during a sales call. The radio station reception was kind, and they loved her voice and the sheer spirit - and she got in. Her burgeoning career as a producer allowed her an insight into advertising and consumer psychology.

She has always led a happy, motivated life. A part of her always detached the connection between one’s physical appearance and the sense of self. This belief took a beating when Ritu experienced the shift from weighing 48 kilos to weighing 75 - terming the journey to be “life altering”. The transition to being fit again helped conceptualise ‘Obino’ - that works on self motivation.

“If one is unhappy with one’s weight, that often becomes dichotomous with everything else, and the person falls into a trap of self criticism.” Ritu realised that being unhealthy has an undesirable psychological effect on one’s thinking and well being. The best way to tackle the issue was by dealing with the core reason. Instead of speaking to people from a pedestal, she chose to build a tool that could allow one to manage themselves - thus leading to a personal sense of victory.

“We built our DIY application and simply put it out there, observing how our customers interact with it for the first few months, striking conversations with certain behaviours and making tweaks accordingly.” By allowing people to chart out their own path and their own regimes, there was no risk of the sole right answer. It opened up possibilities on understanding human health and behavioural patterns. For a structured individual with borderline OCD, entrepreneurship offered a healthy uncertainty to Ritu, and she embraced it with all joy.

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She believes in the strength of inspired action, allowing her customers to experiment independently, allowing her teams to further build her organisation without interference. She approaches challenges with the inquisitiveness of problem solving, adding a light hearted cheer to the most serious issues. Without the stress, teams are able to think critically and make valuable connections, leading to faster solutions. Ritu believes in a culture of constant learning - encourages conversations with people who have been there, done that - and knows when to step out of the way.

“People underestimate how good being healthy feels. The combination of good habits, a strong fitness regime, good sleep, great diet - a lot of people have not experienced this different feeling. It is what you were meant to be.” She shares how she is keen to focus on enriching lives for the next few years and continue her enterprising endeavours in the fitness space, as the writer stands by in awe.

Written by Sushrut Munje

Photographed by Blake D'Silva