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Don’t weight & watch: Bon Happetee gamifies eating habits to help you live healthy

Vishal Krishna
10th Aug 2017
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With an engine that is self-learning, algorithmic and based on the latest developments in nutrition science, the Bon Happetee app empowers consumers to eat smart and change their lifestyle. 

Rakshit Reddy, a 25-year-old businessman from Bengaluru, weighed 189 kg and spent four years to drop over 100 kilograms. Since he was earning a rental income, he could manage to take four years off from active business and focus on fitness. But now that he weighs 80 kg, his challenge is being consistent with diet and exercise to maintain his weight.

Rishi Bhojnagarwala had a similar experience and Bon Happetee, a smart weight loss app, was born out of his journey of losing over 20 kg and later preparing for a full marathon while recovering from an injury.

Rishi began to combine his love for food as a data set but struggled to balance the two. That led to the idea of creating a system that could track, suggest and advice the individual to live better.

“The struggle was to find the right way to follow nutrition along with exercise,” says Rishi, the Co-Founder of Bon Happetee. He says conventional wisdom suggested that healthy food was only salads and soups while fitness was six-packs and size zero.

But Rishi wasn’t willing to accept this.

The Bon Happetee team

“There has to be a simple, common-sense way to approach diet and fitness that is accessible to everyone,” Rishi says. He saw an opportunity because of the clutter of information on diet and fitness out there, which has no guarantee of working in a sustainable manner.

Rishi and Pramit Mehta, Co-Founder of Bon Happetee, added scientific and mathematical weight to their argument of tracking nutrition and food as the idea evolved. They were convinced that there was a solution that could work for everyone and that the common man should not be subjected to the pain of the trial-and-error procedure that Rishi resorted to.

Rishi and Pramit had met through common friends and connected over their love for food in 2014. Pramit, a graduate from IIT-Bombay, was working in the area of high-performance computing, which involved using large datasets and machine learning to generate meaningful actions. Rishi had worked in the media industry for 15 years, devising a content strategy for companies such as Zee and CellTick.

Bon Happetee was started in September 2015 after the duo raised some seed capital, and built a strong lean team, including a mathematician, a PhD in nutrition science and UI developers. The core tech team includes graduates and PhDs from IISc, IIT-Bombay and Michigan with over 10 years of experience. The company did not want to disclose their investments and revenues.

What is Bon Happetee?

Bon Happetee is a smart weight loss app that empowers the consumer to eat smart and change his or her lifestyle through personalisation. The company says their engine is self-learning, algorithmic and based on latest developments in nutrition science.

Over 1,000 users have lost weight using Bon Happetee's AI based assistance, the company says.

“With a first-of-its-kind real-time meal scoring and feedback algorithm, the app analyses your meal down to the core ingredient level,” Rishi says.

The company has gamified the entire experience. While calculating calories and macro nutrients, the app lets you play it like a daily game and lose weight with scores of 8 or more.

Food wisdom that is personalised and fun

“We are building the future of eating right. We are changing the way we look at food, diet and fitness by inculcating food wisdom in a manner that is personalised, convenient and fun. We are using data science, mathematics and nutrition science and, above all, your taste,” Pramit says.

Eventually, the app is meant to address the problem of how to empower users who would want to watch their diet and lifestyle, in a convenient, fun and engaging manner. Bon Happetee is targeting adults around the world, especially middle-aged individuals with health awareness. The main target base is people of Indian origin, in India or around the world.

Bon Happatee’s initial business model involves extending the solution to health experts (on licence model) to help them manage their clients/patients smartly and more effectively with specific emphasis on holistic nutrition and lifestyle. Eventually, they plan to integrate products in the app via partnerships with the fitness and wellness industry.

Every other company in this business is trying to create a database of users so that their usage can be cross-sold with services such as insurance, wellness and medical care. However, this impact is yet to be studied by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India. The regulator does not yet allow customer data to be studied.

Naganand Doraswamy, CEO of IdeaSpring Capital, says: “Consumer businesses need enormous amount of capital and traction. The B2B business requires institutions to push usage of app-based services.”

Most people now want nutrition and exercise to go hand-in-hand and use apps of companies like Healthifyme, GoQii and CureFit. The market is not small; there are 100 million Indians who can access these services to live better. Yet none of these companies have gained critical mass. Every company is after customer acquisition but the customer is yet to pay for services.

According to IBEF, the healthcare market is expected to record a CAGR of 16.5 per cent between 2008 and 2020. The total industry size is expected to touch US$160 billion by 2017 and US$280 billion by 2020. The wellness and nutrition industry is $10 billion in market size now and it is anybody’s guess if a startup can play a role at all. The most famous acquisition in the wellness space was Runtastic, which was acquired by Adidas for $240million a couple of years ago.

So while India needs information on healthy living, companies need to figure out how to monetise the data that they are creating. Data acquisition also takes time, meaning companies should work on a low-cost model. Bon Happetee is trying the B2B model to make money; their product provides the client’s diet and activity management to consulting nutritionist and dieticians. Is there room for an Indian startup to hit it big in the global wellness industry? Bon Happetee is working on it.

 

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