How one startup mixes nutrition, fitness and emotional wellbeing and hands it to you on a plate

12 July 2019 South Spain News Startup News Entrepreneurship Known in the EIT Food community as BeYou, Mario Massarelli, Ironman addict and Abir Mehawej, fitness and healthy-eating lover, explain us their path since they created BeYou, their commercial brand, and joined our Rising Food Stars.  BeYou is the commercial brand name registered under Kee digital S.L

How one startup mixes nutrition, fitness and emotional wellbeing and hands it to you on a plate

Hi there! What is the idea behind BeYou?

Everything started at a turning point in my life (Abir), long before meeting Mario. I had a senior management position in a Telecom company with excessive hours of work, travels, less hours of sleep, bad nutrition and stress. So, I ended up with a burnout.  I was already going to the gym frequently and I thought I was healthy, but at one moment I felt there was something wrong. Therefore, I decided to go on a detox week in a Wellness center in Alicante, Spain.  There I learnt the meaning of the word “wellness” and experimented the magic effect of it.

One week of intensive shot of wellness typically includes:  nordic walk at 7 am, nutrition coaching, cooking lessons, macrobiotic diet, life coaching and good amount of sleep!  In only one week, I felt a like a new ME. The effect was quite impressive.  That’s how BeYou was devised: I wanted to do a digital version of that wellness center, creating a mobile app using a wellness pyramid approach:  Nutrition + Fitness and Emotional wellbeing as the strong base. I quitted my job and my nice salary, and I have never looked back ever since.

Which were the first baby steps of BeYou?

At the very start, we were 2 founders, Hany Cherfan and me.  We created the first BeYou prototype in 2015, which was our personal experience in fitness, nutrition and health. Then, Technogym, the world leader in gym equipment, liked our wellness approach and selected us along 4 other startups for a 4-month intensive acceleration program at Europe Silicon Valley accelerator: H-Farm, based in Venice, Italy, and there we met Mario Massarelli, our co-founder.

In 2016, Technogym invested in us, and our exciting journey started! 

What does your app provide in a few words?

We are focused on one main area: Personalised Nutrition and we differentiate ourselves by incorporating features that encourage consumers to stay engaged, using a Gamification approach. Our smart recipes platform is connected to > 2M recipes, covering all diet types, allergies, cuisines, cooking time.  Providing a health score, shopping list and other personalised features to our clients such as tips and articles from certified coaches in our blog and social media

Who is your target market?

Anyone willing to make a change in their lives and eager to lead a healthier and less stressing path.

Has all been about trial and error or did you hit the nail right from the start?

You learn by doing. When we first launch our prototype, we realised that it was not enough to keep people motivated. The rule is 80-20, 80% what we eat, and 20% exercise. However, motivation is usually the key factor of the equation. People are 10 times more likely to engage in a health programme if there is a financial reward. That is why, we iterated our prototype once again and started researching around gamification and consumer behaviour and incentives. The aim for us was clear: making the pursuit of wellness rewarding and fun. Now, we have created personalised goals and by reaching the goal, the user can unlock discount vouchers to buy healthy products at a supermarket, fitness garments, acquire wellness perks, discount vouchers from Amazon, amongst others.

Did you encounter any challenges in finding funding?

Well, it depends on what you consider funding. In 2017, we met an investor. He did not invest in us in cash but offered the possibility of being one of the first startups to join EIT food Rising Food Stars. At the beginning, we did not understand what that meant, because we were looking for cash and not papers to sign and red tape, but opportunities come when you least expect it.

What benefits has being a RisingFoodStar brought to you?

BeYou has had an invaluable experience within the EIT Food consortium, it has been a non-cash contribution that has opened the door for us and meant more than any other investment. It has helped us attract large food corporates, research institutes and universities to work with us in innovation and education projects. We have had the change to collaborate with food partners such as PepsiCo, Colruyt, Nestle, Siemens, Giauvadan, Grupo AN; research institutes as VTT, IMDEA, AZTI and universities like Torino, Reading-UK, Madrid, Warsaw and Leuven.

How is working with bigger companies from the EIT Food consortium?

Working with bigger companies is a challenge. As a startup, we are really fast, but we benefit from their experience and timing to reflect and brainstorm with others. It is like going back and read a book for the second time, then you assimilate the content. It pushes you to listen, discuss others’ opinions and implement ideas that had never crossed your mind.

You are involved in several projects with EIT Food,…

  • Health Snap:  Partners:  PepsiCo, Siemens, VTT, Reading University, Giauvadan & BeYou - Aim: support healthy eating by developing a new food manufacturing technology and B2C business concept for at site customised production of healthy snacks. The idea is based on the integration and instant food manufacturing technologies combined with smart user interface to support individual choices.  Design thinking methodology, and co -reation with consumers is an important activity to define the market problem and user needs.
  • PDC:  Partners: University of Turin, University of Madrid, Grupo AN, IMDEA & BeYou - Aim: help health professionals in the health and fitness sectors to change eating habits. We create an online course for health professionals in order to provide them with innovative techniques and personalised nutrition approaches by using our own experience.
  • Smart Food Logging: Partners: Colruyt Group via SWF start-up, Warsaw university, Leuven University & BeYou - Aim: connect health professionals with consumers via a Smart market-place powered by Artificial intelligence and the use of new tools such as the Wellness index &  food plate, allowing both consumers and health professionals understand the progress and engagement in the health programme.

What will your next steps be?

We are now digging into the secret formula that we will use for the HealthSnap machine. We have done design-thinking activities in UK and Spain in order to know what our customers really need and how they see themselves being part of this innovative new manufacturing technique.

BeYou is working on some key strategic partnerships with health authorities, identifying new business models and commercialisation plans, and new iterations in our gamification platform to increase consumers adherence and engagement. Games and incentives add accountability and more structure, producing outstanding, long-term success.

We also want to continue our fund raising campaign, release a second prototype for BeYou. With the help of Technogym and the EIT food, in 2020, we want to scale up and take our startup to the next level, pioneering in Personalised Nutrition and the use gamification, making the journey of weight loss more innovative and fun.

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