Who doesn't love to stay fit? While everyone wishes to live a healthy and active life free from ailments, owing to the unhealthy and inappropriate lifestyle that most of us follow these days, we become susceptible to many diseases. Knowingly or unknowingly we adopt many unhealthy habits which may prove detrimental to our health in the long run. We lack motivation and guidance required to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While all of us cannot afford the luxury of hiring our own personal nutritionist, wouldn't you love it if someone is always by your side taking care as you are about to eat? If yes, then there is some good news. PurpleTeal, a startup which is operating both in India and abroad, brings to you 'Tweak & Eat' an app that will give you practical and real-time advice on how to tweak your meals to make it healthier. Tweak & Eat ® was launched in 2017 and is designed to help users with weight-loss and management of diet-related health issues.
Startup Success Story - PurpleTeal
- Startup Info-Global India
- StartupName-PurpleTeal PurpleTeal
- HeadQuarter-Fremont, California Chennai
- Founders-Narayanan Ram and Anand Subra Narayanan Ram and Anand Subra
- Parent Organization-PurpleTeal Inc.
PurpleTeal is an established mobile Health (mHealth) service provider. It operates an automated, personalized mHealth messaging platform for Telcos and consumers. PurpleTeal’s mHealth platform and apps engage subscribers to take better care of their health and wellness, by educating them and prompting them to take appropriate and timely health actions.
PurpleTeal's core business is a smartphone app ‘Tweak & Eat’ which offers just-in-time meal advice to subscribers. The company has headquarters in Foremont (California) and Chennai (India).
The company’s vision is to ‘Keep Everyone Healthy, Looking Good & Feeling Great!’ and their Mission is to ‘Transform Health & Wellness across the Globe!.
Even people who are aware that diet is important for good health, find it difficult to remember and follow their diet plans or principles (e.g. eat fewer carbs). They need specific, real-time advice and hand-holding at the ‘point of consumption’. PurpleTeal’s ‘Tweak & Eat’ App, makes it easier for people to make long-term dietary changes through incremental changes to each meal through personalized ‘tweaks’. Each meal is a ‘teachable moment’. ‘Tweak & Eat’ makes it simple by relieving people of the onerous work of remembering, recording, counting, tracking or analyzing their food intake: Users just need to send a picture of the meal in front of them and the nutritionists will tell them how to make that meal healthier for their body profile.
Mr. Narayanan Ram and Mr. Anand Subra are the founders of PurpleTeal.
Mr. Narayanan Ram, is the CEO of PurpleTeal. He is an experienced entrepreneur with deep roots in the information technology industry. By education, he is an electrical engineering graduate. He graduated in 1993 and joined Cirrus Logic. From 1993-1996, he worked in Cirrus Logic holding different posts. In 1996, at the time of leaving Cirrus Logic, Mr. Ram was Director of Video Telecom Products.
In 1997, Mr. Ram founded SeeItFirst Inc., a video software tools company. From conceptualizing, architecting and implementing the first 'interactive frame-based video streaming technology' to receiving patents for the same, Mr. Ram has a lot to his credit. Besides, he was also successful in attracting investments from NBC/GE, MKS Ventures, and Deutsche Bank. He launched the first product in 1998 and built up a blue-chip customer base with over 100 implementations in the US, Japan and India. Mr. Ram formed and guided a strong management team and Board of Directors for SeeItFirst. SeeItFirst was acquired by the UB Group in 2001. Mr. Ram continued as CEO of SeeItFirst until 2004.
Dr. Anand Subra, is the Chief Knowledge Officer of PurpleTeal. He is an IIT alumnus and is a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He is the co-author of many journal papers and holds US and foreign patents. He is responsible for new product development and providing knowledge support for strategy, marketing and delivery initiatives.
Anand previously worked with IBM for 20 years in various departments like sales, marketing, consulting, and strategy and business development. Anand helped a number of multinational firms in successfully developing and implementing their business strategies and operational initiatives. He led the business development of IBM innovation management services and also spearheaded these services in the healthcare industry.
How was PurpleTeal Started
The founders Narayanan and Anand were always looking for new ways to improve people’s lives and periodically meet in some locatioThe founders Narayanan and Anand were always looking for new ways to improve people’s lives and periodically met in some location to brainstorm new ideas. During one such meeting in Silicon Valley in 2015, they were discussing the obesity and overweight epidemic and looking at various sites and apps that were addressing the fitness/wellness space. They wanted to make a difference to people with weight-related health issues.
Narayanan and Anand were struck by the level of effort required to use some of the other health & wellness apps and felt that these apps appealed more to ‘power users’, who used these apps for record-keeping and validation from other users. Most likely, they had already established a ‘healthy’ diet and exercise habits and were using fitness apps to further hone their habits. Power users were deeply engaged with the quantitative aspects of the app and reveled in data entry, analysis and feedback. In contrast, ‘average users’ would consider these requirements to be very onerous and were likely to stop using the apps in a short while. This made them feel that they could come up with a much easier approach, one that would appeal to the average user, and require far less effort, but also provide useful functionality for power users.
Taking a step further, Narayanan and Anand consulted with their friends and others about what they would want in an ideal weight-loss app, and what they have experienced with other apps. They found out that what most people needed was not just information and actionable tips/instructions, they also needed hand-holding. They felt they were left to their own devices at meal times, especially in certain situations like a buffet, eating out with a group, someone pushing unhealthy food, etc.
They realized that while it is one thing to ‘know’ that curtailing carb intake leads to weight-loss, it is totally another thing to take the appropriate actions when sitting at a meal filled with all sorts of carb-temptations! What would really help was telling them which items to avoid and which to eat, and how much. This would make things far easier.
They also observed that while existing apps placed a lot of emphasis on recording and analyzing every morsel eaten by the user, informing the user to the nth degree of detail, but not really motivating any lasting changes in behavior. Also, these apps coached users ‘after-the-fact’, i.e. the app would tell them what all they ate and how they could do better next time - after they had already eaten their meals. Users would have to remember the instructions and make sure they followed them – all on their own! These made Anand and Narayanan feel that they could do a whole lot better by hand-holding the users as and when they were actually eating their meals. They wanted to design something which would free the users from remembering the instructions from their last meal and from entering any data. Thus the idea behind ‘Tweak & Eat” was formed.
Anand and Narayanan soon started Executing this idea. They analyzed a large number of papers and journal articles as well through which they found some very interesting information. One is that people lost some weight on almost every ‘diet’, but were unable to sustain them; the lost weight invariably came right back! This is a widely recognized phenomenon, aptly summarized by American humorist Erma Bombeck: “In two decades I've lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.”
Mark Twain, another American humorist, once said: “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times.” The same can be said for weight-loss!
Another very surprising finding that stood out was that exercise did not play an important enough role in weight-loss! Diet played a far greater role and therein lay the rub because people find it very difficult to sustain drastic changes to their diets over the long term.
The PurpleTeal team started developing the app based upon the various findings. They laid out the technical design and requirements, applied for US and International patents (still pending), and began development. The team came up with an approach that would require very little user effort (most of the work would be done by nutritionists). – it would allow people to eat what they normally did, but with a ‘Tweak’ (meal-modification) under the guidance of nutritionists.
All the user would have to do is to take a picture of their meal and send it to ‘Tweak & Eat’. The rest backend activity would be manned by qualified nutritionists. Within a minute, the nutritionists would send back a tweak. No data entry, no remembering anything… it couldn’t be made any easier than this!
The name Tweak and Eat came from the idea that – the user will eat what he/she would normally eat and just ‘tweak’ (make incremental changes) the meal a bit to suit the user’s body profile and achieve his/her specific goals.
What is PurpleTeal
The Company’s core business is a smartphone app and Service called ‘Tweak & Eat’. 'Tweak & Eat' aims to empower health-conscious subscribers with ‘Just-in-time’ meal advice (i.e. ‘Tweaks’) from nutritionists who analyze the nutritive content of each meal and make suggestions for improvement.
‘Tweak & Eat’ helps subscribers make informed food choices and changes for the meal they are just about to eat, based on their individual body parameters and specific health goals. All the subscriber has to do is to take a picture of their food plate and send it to us using the App. Tweak & Eat nutritionists then view the plate and make appropriate portion control, food swapping or eating sequence recommendations in less than a minute. They may also make suggestions for future meals, taking advantage of meal-time ‘teachable moments’ to educate subscribers about healthy eating.
Tweak & Eat also supports integration with devices like Fitbit, iWatch, etc. and enables personalized reminders to be set for breakfast, lunch, dinner and other meal-times.
‘Tweak & Eat’ is training and using Tweakyfai (its proprietary AI platform) to help nutritionists do a better job of giving real-time advice and information to users. Tweakyfai also automates some activities such as generating nutrition labels and escalating exceptions.
Important features of ‘Tweak & Eat’ App are-
My EDR (Electronic Diet Record) – It contains all the current and past tweaks of the user along with the nutritionist’s comments and nutrition labels. It also shows the rating the user gave to each tweak.
Nutrition Labels – It helps users see the macronutrient contents of every meal. These labels are created instantly by Tweakyfai, PrpleTeal’s AI platform.
Recipe Wall- Users can find healthy recipes here.
Tweak Wall – User can share the tweak from My EDR on the Tweak Wall
My Nutrition – Helps users monitor their calorie and micro-nutrient intake trend.
My Fitness – This features allows ‘Tweak & Eat’ to be connected to other health and fitness related devices like fitbit and iWatch.
Some premium services included in the Tweak & Eat app are-
- Weight Loss Service- Here the user gets a personalized diet plan from a nutritionist assigned to him/her.
- AIDP (AI based Diet Plan) - under this service the user gets personalized diet plans generated by the AI platform tweakify. Besides, the user also gets to chat with nutritionists under this plan.
- Twetox- it offers personalized detox plans to the user.
- Besides ‘Tweak & Eat’, PurpleTeal has another app named ‘My Health Assistant’, which help people to maintain better health by guiding users to prevent ‘at risk’ conditions and help manage diagnosed conditions better.
- Live Well – It provides daily health tips, periodic risk awareness alerts and tips on how to prevent diseases.
- Lose Weight – It provides daily tips to lose weight.
- Quit Smoke – Provides daily tips to quit smoking based on established behavioral change models.
- Be CALM – Provides tips on stress relief and stress handling.
- Well Woman – Provides tips on women’s health
- Healthy Heart – Provides tips to manage or prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- Prevent Diabetes – Provides tips to prevent diabetes. Build awareness of early signs and symptoms of diabetes.
- Manage Diabetes- Provides tips for long term diabetes self-management
- Pregnancy – Provides daily tips to to-be moms on various aspects of pregnancy
- Prevent Cancer- Provides daily tips and information about risk factors and symptoms of cancer. And provides guidance regarding how to prevent cancer.
PurpleTeal - Launching Startup
PurpleTeal’s core product ‘Tweak & Eat’ app was first launched in India, followed by Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Kuwait and USA, Besides, it launched the App & Service on Google Play Store and Apple Store in 2017.
PurpleTeal - Revenue Model
Tweak & Eat runs its services on a freemium model. While the base app and services are free, fee is charged for the premium services. Pricing ranges from INR 49 to INR 3,999 in India.
PurpleTeal - User Acquisition
As said by Narayanan, for ‘Tweak &Eat’ PurpleTeal got its first 100 customers just through word of mouth publicity. PurpleTeal also promotes its apps and services through Google Adwords and with the help of its Telco partners.
Google Adwords is very effective in reaching millions of potential subscribers. We have existing relationships with Telcos from our ‘Health Tips’ line of business, and through them, can reach 100’s of millions of potential subscribers. Once we get to that level, it becomes easier to grow because of the heightened visibility.
PurpleTeal - Competitors
Though there are many apps related to health, ‘Tweak & Eat’ is quite unique from the rest. It's simple, real-time, meal modification advice from nutritionists at the time of consumption is a feature that no other app provides.
We will make it difficult for others to duplicate our app & service by speeding up our response time and making the nutritionist’s advice easy to act upon and instructive for future meals.
PurpleTeal - Growth
‘Tweak & Eat’ has been able to gain popularity among its target audience. The app's popularity and growth is shown by the following facts-
The app has gained popularity in different countries apart from India like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and the USA.
The App caters to the daily meal-time needs of more than 500,000 users.
‘Tweak & Eat’ ranks as the 4th trending App on Google Play Store in the health & wellness category and is one among the top performing health & wellness channels according to Youtube with the engagement increasing 300% month-on-month, over the last three months.
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PurpleTeal - Future Plans
Future plans for the next 2-3 years is to rapidly grow the installed base and increase user engagement. We are now in the testing stages of an AI nutritionist that can reliably (more than 90%) identify a large number of foods. Our AI nutritionist will get better over time, as we continue to train it with ‘real-world’ images of meals sent by our users. This is an important point because training an AI nutritionist using stock images is easier but not very reliable.