Startup develops food-discovery app
A startup is developing a web and mobile app to help people with dietary restrictions explore healthy food options nearby.
Start Garden, the early stage venture capital firm in Grand Rapids, said last month that it will make an initial $5,000 investment in Medio, an in-development app for people with dietary allergies, nutrition-related diseases, food intolerances and dietary preferences.
The investment was the final weekly $5,000 investment by Start Garden as it transitions its focus to further developing and financing its portfolio companies and looking to participate in more larger early stage rounds in the Midwest.
Medio is designed to create access to healthy food options by connecting people to a “socially reliable” community of restaurants, businesses and other users.
The food-discovery app would address the challenge of people finding and accessing information on safe-to-eat food in their areas.
Robert Tomas G IV, co-founder and CEO of Medio, said the app would also be a food curation platform.
“It is essentially a Pinterest for food for dietary-sensitive food discovery,” Tomas said.
Thomas said the startup’s vision is to “curate an international, multi-disciplinary social-food platform” to make eating safe and healthy foods “easier and more engaging.”
While there are no costs for the users of the app, businesses interested in participating in the social community would have to subscribe to the platform.
Medio would be available on the web and via Android and iOS mobile devices.
The app would have a number of features: diet tracking, food playlists, recipes, access to allergy-safe food, taste-based recommendations and interaction with other users.
“We want to re-define how people interact with the food offered around them by knowing what is in that food, how it can affect them and different alternatives that are out there they might not be aware of,” Tomas said. “The food-discovery experience will become a visual-engagement process, exposing the user to better alternatives, whether it be safer food products, tastier restaurant meal options or fun recipes.”
With the number of Americans diagnosed with food allergies or diabetes on the rise, Tomas said Medio’s target market is users who have food sensitivity or restrictions, but also accommodates people who have dietary goals.
“Currently, 41 million Americans have food allergies or diabetes,” Tomas said. “The mobile health market is projected to hit $26 billion by 2017, and food-allergy diagnoses are up 50 percent in the last 10 years.
“It is projected by 2050, one in three Americans will have diabetes, further growing a community that cannot adequately find safe foods they are able to eat within a poorly visible and non-transparent commercial food market.”
The idea for Medio was developed by a three-member team: Tomas; Evan Leung, co-founder and creative director; and Julian Turley, marketing director.
Medio is based out of Ann Arbor and also currently in the Optimize Social Innovation Challenge, The Startup Challenge and the Customer Discovery Ninja Challenge at the University of Michigan.
Medio will use the Start Garden funds on its prototype experiment, which includes four test groups: medical professionals; food allergy social influencers, including bloggers and YouTube users; participants with food allergies; and food businesses.
“The holistic approach has four sub-hypotheses in attempt to garnish results serving as a proof of concept,” Tomas said. “In a way, it is a more intensive approach to multi-dimensional customer discovery to validate hypotheses and gain feedback on how we can fine tune the web application’s functionality and design.”
The funding will also go toward finalizing the development of the platform.