Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

India's fastest CEO on running, nutrition and everything in between

Running without nutrition is working without being smart, burnout is inevitable - Vijayaraghavan, CEO Fast&Up

Published: Feb 17, 2022 10:32:22 AM IST
Updated: Feb 19, 2022 12:12:07 AM IST

India's fastest CEO on running, nutrition and everything in betweenA CEO that walks the talk? That is Vijayaraghavan Venugopal for you. He is one of the fastest amateur marathoners in the country, having run in sub-3-hour marathons eight times in major cities throughout the world, including Paris, Boston, Chicago, Berlin and New York, all while leading the growth of India’s fastest-growing nutrition brand - Fast&Up.
A mechanical engineer and an MBA in international business from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi, Vijayaraghavan has always been passionate about sports and fitness. He believes that sports and building a business require similar skillsets, and thoroughly enjoys leveraging them. With over 20 years of business experience in diverse fields which includes  pharmaceuticals,  healthcare, and  information  technology,  Vijay has worked  for brands  like  TekFriday, Dr. Reddy's, Lupin, and Emcure in different senior management roles across  multiple  geographies  like the USA, Europe, Japan & China where he was heading Lupin as the country  head for  three years. Vijayaraghavan is  the  co-founder & CEO of Aeronutrix Sports Products Private Limited and has been instrumental in building Fast&Up.
His Fast&Up adventure began in order to accomplish his aim of providing clean and effective nutrition. He says, ‘As a runner I remember asking friends and family to get products when they would travel abroad, I realised why should that be the case. I was privileged to have access to a network that could get me products but there were so many incredible athletes in our country who didn’t and nutrition being such a core part of performance made me want to ensure that Indian athletes and fitness enthusiasts would get a product that would support their hardwork and strengthen performance.’

India's fastest CEO on running, nutrition and everything in between
He met Varun Khanna, co-founder in 2015. Varun’s expertise lay in nutrition and when both got talking, they realised how similar they were in terms of the principles of nutrition and its benefits. “We intended to create a brand for the masses that offered products for anyone who wants to stay active, each of which addressed a specific need of a sportsperson or a health fanatic. Fast&Up was founded with the intention of  revolutionising  the way nutrition was delivered in the country. With highly innovative Swiss R&D and Italian inputs, India's first effervescent active nutrition brand was born,”  continued  Vijayaraghavan Venugopal. 

We focused on quality and are proud to say that we were the first brand in the country to get our flagship products certified by Informed Sport and Informed Choice, which made sure ingredients, products and manufacturing kept up with global standards of quality  . For me personally as a runner, the moment of massive pride was to see our hydration stations in the 2020 Tata Mumbai Marathon as the official energy drink of the run. Then as they say, the landscape of our world changed.
With Covid 19 came the realisation of a need of healthier lifestyle. Fast&Up was one of the healthier swaps India has made in the last 2 years. Over the past year, our brand Fast&Up has tripled in size and launched more than 20 products. Because of the increasing demand and customer interest, the brand has extended into numerous categories such as weight management, plant based nutrition and daily vitamins along with kids and women nutrition.

It was in these years, we realised how Fast&Up went beyond sports nutrition and how deeply entrenched we were in the communities. It was humbling to see the trust in our products and we were grateful to have helped our frontline warriors in both the waves of Covid-19 with our immunity booster (Fast&Up Charge) and electrolytes (Fast&Up Reload). When WFH also made workout from homes popular, we were the only brand that was associated with almost every virtual run in the country thus being with our community even if virtually. We really worked hard to ensure physical distances were brought together through various virtual initiatives not just restricted to sports.
What did the pandemic do what years of marketing couldn’t - create awareness about the need for the right nutrition and supplements for today’s lifestyle. ‘ The pandemic has given a boost to India's nutraceutical business  including Fast&Up. It is safe to say that this industry is  poised for exponential expansion.’  He further says, ‘I would like to believe that my passion for fitness has led me down a path of obstacles, learnings, and gaining a deeper grasp of what nutrition a customer wants and needs.’ When asked about how the journey has been for him until now, Vijayaraghavan closes by saying, ‘ Through  this journey  what  I have learned  about the current Indian customer is that they are more aware now. They read food labels and are prepared to spend extra for items that make the cut, particularly those which are authentic and credible. They are also brand savvy and loyal hence  business owners will have to provide  consumers with the best if they want to stay in the market for the long run. We at Fast&Up strive to check all these boxes every single day.’

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