Eating healthfully is a tricky business nowadays. We know better than ever what’s good for us, but all this information makes the optimum diet seem like a distant and elusive goal.
Have we had enough omega-3 fatty acids this week? And what about our calcium intake? And who can keep track?
Israeli startup Nutricco wants to put an end to the confusion by providing a smart, comprehensive solution that monitors nutrient intake and fills in the gaps with dietary supplements.
Users will get an app that tracks dietary needs and a supplement dispenser stocked with the vitamins they need.
Not that Nutricco plans on pushing pills down people’s throats, founder and CEO Leonid Pirogovsky insists.
“We provide the nutrients people need in the amounts that people need at the time they need to take them,” he notes.
“Not for a single moment am I telling people that they have to take dietary supplements. On the contrary, we’re telling people to eat healthily,” he emphasizes.
“The customers I’m approaching are people who are already consuming supplements because they think something is missing from their diet, and I’m telling them to stop wasting their money, to take a look at their diet, to improve it and to supplement it if there’s anything missing.”
Pirogovsky came up with the solution after becoming disillusioned with the traditional pharmaceutical industry of which he was a part. He perceived a serious misalignment between customers’ wishes and the way dietary supplements are thrust at them.
“People consume without understanding what they’re consuming, but base their consumption on advertisements, on what they hear from friends,” he says. “It’s an uninformed decision.”
“I worked for the other side and understood how this mechanism works. From there came the motivation to resolve the problem and give people a simple tool to make decisions and provide them with what they’re lacking to maintain their nutritional balance.”
Nutricco plans to charge a monthly subscription fee covering the app, supplements and service for the dispenser.
“If you eat healthy, you’ll need to consume fewer dietary supplements and that leaves me with a greater profit,” he says. That’s because Nutricco won’t have to purchase as many supplements from vendors.
How Nutricco works
The Nutricco app will offer three different levels of engagement.
The most basic level involves getting notifications and reminders to take supplements determined by answers to a dietary questionnaire and real-time updates. For example, a user who usually needs to take omega-3 fatty acids a couple of times a week can notify the system if they eat fish and can forgo a second round of omega-3.
The second level of engagement will let users keep track of food intake for a period of one week to three months. The system will analyze that data to create dietary recommendations and a supplement portfolio to get delivered to the home dispenser.
The third level will be for highly engaged users who keep regular track of what they eat. They will receive a monthly supply of supplements accordingly.
The dietary recommendations and supplement portfolio are built using USDA guidelines, scientific information from Nutricco’s team and a smart algorithm. This algorithm will recommend foods to eat for optimal nutrition. If these aren’t consumed, it will recommend specific supplements.
The algorithm also will calculate what users are likely to eat in the upcoming month and provide supplements accordingly.
“We only look at people’s diets and their behavior,” Pirogovsky stresses. “We don’t treat and we don’t diagnose. We target healthy people who are focused on their diet.”
A $40 billion market
And it seems there are plenty such people.
“Today in the American market, 80 percent of people say that they consume dietary supplements, and 50 percent consume at least one supplement,” Pirogovsky says, noting that the stateside market is estimated at $40 billion.
Pirogovsky says a pilot carried out at a gym in Israel got rave reviews, even though the Israeli diet tends to be more balanced than the American diet and its dietary supplement market is smaller.
Nutricco will launch this year in the burgeoning US market. Pirogovsky hopes to receive FDA approval next year so that the company can offer a smart solution to people on prescription drugs.
“It will enable to show why the patient isn’t feeling well – whether he’s taking medication properly or whether the meds need to be changed,” Pirogovsky explains.
“This is only the beginning,” he notes. “There are plenty more applications that could be carried out on this technological platform.”
The best place for a startup
Despite its distance from its target American audience, Nutricco’s location in Israel is ideal, says Pirogovsky.
“I think that we’re situated perhaps in the best place for a beginning startup. We might be far away from the huge market abroad, but Israel by design encourages thinking outside the box. And there’s a spirit here in Israel that encourages this desire to fix something in the world. This is a culture in which there’s no impossible problem that can’t be resolved,” he says.
Nutricco is part of Google’s startup community and gets support from the Economy Ministry. The company receives exposure through the Israel Export Institute and the Foreign Ministry’s economic missions around the world.
“At CES 2020 we showcased our company as part of the Israel Export Institute booth. We met many interested partners and got coverage around the globe,” Pirogovsky says. “This is just one example of the support Israel gives to small startups with big ideas and aspirations.”
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