Do you ever feel overwhelmed when trying to make healthy food decisions? Do you find yourself standing in the aisles of your grocery store trying to navigate ingredient lists, nutrition labels, and latest health claims.
Hemi Weingarten did, which is why he used his technology background to build Fooducate, a personal grocery advisor that helps make it easier to navigate food labels. The newly released iPhone app enables users to access easy-to-understand nutrition analysis and provides recommendations for healthier alternatives.
I stumbled upon Weingarten’s blog and was immediately drawn to his warm, personal, and informative style of writing. With 135,000 uniques last month (wow!), it seems like I’m not the only one interested in what he has to say. Over the weekend, I got the opportunity to catch up with the technology entrepreneur, business consultant, and father of three to learn more about his motivation for helping people navigate the supermarket isles. I hope you enjoy the interview!
Danielle Gould: What was your motivation behind creating the Fooducate app?
Hemi Weingarten: I always enjoyed cooking and good food, but as my wife and I are fairly slim and healthy, we never took any interest in nutrition. But then we became parents. We had three toddlers and then started to think about they are eating. One day my wife brought home a “glow in the dark” yogurt with a blue color. It just didn’t make sense. About this time I left the corporate world and we took a year off to travel around the world. I read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “What to Eat”among many other books. By the time we wrapped up our trip I decide to marry my passion for technolgy with my love of food to help other families eat better food.
DG: How does Fooducate help consumers make more informed decisions about the foods they eat?
HW: We cut the marketing BS out of the decision making process. We explain in human terms what ingredients and nutrients mean. We show comparable products that are healthier.
DG: Where does the data in your food database come from? How difficult has it been for you to obtain the data?
HW: Most of the products have been licensed from a database company. If we don’t have a product , we allow users to send us a picture and then we add the product to our database.
DG: How is Fooducate different from other apps such as FoodMeter and Shopwell?
HW: I prefer to speak about Fooducate.
DG: What is your business model?
HW: Currently we are focused on creating a great user experience.
DG: What have been your greatest challenges?
HW: Too many to count…but that is the fun part of being an entrepreneur.
DG: Do you think the web is changing our food system? If yes, how?
HW: I think the mobile web is empowering consumers like never before. There is a ton of room for innovation in business models for example in food distribution models. Look at Farmigo, Relay Foods, Abe’s [Market] Foods…
DG: When will the droid app be released 🙂 ?
HW: Android app – sometime in 2011.