A HIMSS Event | SANTA CLARA, CA | SEPT. 16-18, 2019

San Francisco, CA
September 16-18, 2019 | Santa Clara, CA

Food as Medicine: Startup Suggestic Finds Success after Competing at Health 2.0

By Heather Munro, freelance writer focusing on emerging technology.

Since 2008, more than 110 startups have debuted their products live on stage during Health 2.0’s annual Launch! Competition.

Suggestic, a precision-eating software application that uses augmented reality (AR) to guide users through the world’s smartest diets, beat out a field of 11 competitors to win the Launch! title in 2017. 

The app’s promise at that time was impressive: Point your phone at any restaurant menu and instantly find out where the menu item falls within your dietary restrictions. A personal score based on your preferred diet, biology and health goals would pop up on the screen to help you navigate the confusing world of eating food as medicine.

Today, half a million restaurants—about 80 percent of restaurants in the U.S.—can be read by the app. And Suggestic is currently working with Apple to expand the technology to capture the remaining 20 percent.

“After we went to Health 2.0, we worried that the restaurant feature was more of a gimmick and less of a real help,” said Victor Chapela, CEO and Co-founder of Suggestic, a company dedicated to helping solve chronic disease through precision eating.

That concern prompted Suggestic to expand its strategy to include more support for cooking at home and shopping at the grocery store—two features that are helping the app attract more users every day. 

Fifty-six percent of premium users, in fact, are sticking around once their month-long Suggestic program finishes. What’s more, users of the free platform are converting to premium memberships at a healthy rate of 7.4 percent. 

While the restaurant feature may be the “cool tech” wowing investors, the app is finding success because it simplifies everyday food choices for users, who can use the app to:

  • Access diet programs for weight loss, health optimization or chronic disease reversal
  • Find personalized meal plans and recipes that convert into shopping lists
  • Get guidance from New York Times best-selling authors on nutrition and health

Since competing at Launch! in 2017, Suggestic has also raised an additional $3 million in funding, and is now in the process of raising a Series A round of venture capital financing.

Chapela noted that the partners and investors he met while pitching at Health 2.0 were invaluable to the company’s current success.

“For other entrepreneurs, I would say, don’t get discouraged. Winning isn’t the point of doing competitions,” he said. “Of course, it’s nice to win, but you can still make good connections, even if you don’t win.”

Chapela also said it's an exciting time for Suggestic. By the end of 2019, the app will also:

  • Be available in an Android version
  • Include a Spanish version in Mexico
  • Incorporate data from 96 different food sensitivity tests
  • Offer the ability to purchase directly from shopping lists and have food delivered

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