Karn Ghosh’s Hit 100: a start-up tackling diabetes

April 21, 2016
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Do you dream of one day launching your own start-up? Thirty-one-year-old CEO Karn Ghosh has some advice for you: find a real problem to tackle, and get started.

And Ghosh is one of the best placed to dispense such wise words. After seeing the huge impact of diabetes and the lack of access to nutritious food, he started Hit 100, a food service and tech platform that helps individuals with diabetes manage their health.

“There’s a bunch of really meaningful problems out there to be solved,” says Ghosh. “The need has never been greater in issues like health care, education, and poverty.”

Ghosh’s own business idea developed in response to the “tsunami of preventable lifestyle-related diseases, particularly type two diabetes” that he witnessed while working as a physiotherapist in rural NSW.

He describes the obesity crisis as “a problem of our own making”, citing statistics that one person is diagnosed with diabetes in Australia every five minutes. “We as a society are failing these people who go on to develop preventable lifestyle-related diseases,” he says.

Driven by the conviction that “everyone deserves the right to a happy and healthy life”, Ghosh sought a solution in business and technology.

You can do it around your studies; when you start working you can do it around your nine-to-five job.

He worked with a team to survey over 2,500 Australians with diabetes. The research showed that “food and meal times were by far the biggest source of frustration” for those living with the disease.  

Hit 100 takes a “doctor-meets-chef” approach to the problem. The service delivers healthy meals, developed by diabetes experts, to clients across greater Sydney. It also offers a points system that allows individuals to track their food and drink intake.

“We’ve actually been pretty blown away by the positive response we’ve had and some of the really remarkable stories of improvements in blood-sugar control and weight management,” Ghosh says of the first phase of the company’s launch. “It’s a really exciting time!”

As the start-up has grown, Ghosh’s role has changed from “Chief Everything Officer” to managing a highly competent team. He likens starting a new business to flying a biplane: “The scarp is flying horizontal, we’re bumping along through clouds with some navigational instruments … but the beauty is that we can take the plane wherever we want!” The next step for Hit 100 is to expand delivery across Australia over the next 12 to 18 months.

The rapid growth of the company sounds like the stuff of entrepreneurial dreams, but it wasn’t so long ago that Ghosh was developing a business idea on the weekends while working full-time as a physio. “Get started,” he advises those who have a business concept. “You can do it around your studies; when you start working you can do it around your nine-to-five job.”

Whatever you do, do it well, and use it as a platform to do whatever you’re doing next.

Begin by writing down your idea, Ghosh says. Tools like Lean Canvas allow you to create a simple plan, which you can then pitch. “Put it in front of people you trust; put it in front of people that understand the problem you’re trying to solve, and then go and improve it.”

Recalling his experience, Ghosh is grateful he encountered “high-calibre, intelligent people” who embraced his vision and went on to become the investors and board members of Hit 100.

His story shows that you can never be sure where your degree or career will take you. Studying physiotherapy wasn’t the most logical route to becoming a CEO, Ghosh admits, but it taught him important things about people, problem-solving, data collection and the health industry - insights that have been invaluable to his new role.

“Whatever you do, do it well, and use it as a platform to do whatever you’re doing next,” he says.

And what of the next generation of entrepreneurs?

“I’m really excited to see where they take their careers, and how they question the status quo,” says Ghosh. “The most important thing for me is to solve real problems. Companies that profit at the expense of people or the environment, they will cease to exist. People who are solving real problems and doing it in a way that is brave and passionate and resilient, I think they are the people who will be the business leaders of tomorrow.” 

Melinda Cooper

Melinda loves reading on rainy days, drinking cups of tea and making things. She is doing a PhD in English at the University of Sydney.