- Founders: Nuno M. Brilha
- Founded in: 2020
- Employees: 5
- Money raised: 250,000 euros
- Ultimate goal: To impact and empower and help people with healthier, more sustainable food choices.
Eating healthy is no easy task. Because not everything you usually buy in the supermarket is equally good for your health. And so how do you prepare that healthy food in the best way? Portuguese start-up Clevermeals wants to “democratize knowledge and access to healthy, positive and planet-friendly food,” in their own words. The company is developing an app based on artificial intelligence. That should help you make better food choices and help you develop healthier eating habits. The founder, Nuno Brilha, talks about his work process and future aspirations of Clevermeals for this episode of start-up of the day.
How did you come up with the idea for the start-up?
“We realized that healthy food choices and sustainability are at the top of a social-political agenda. At the same time, we also identified a gap in the tech industry where these topics are concerned. For instance, we have shopping list apps and other things but no mainstream platform for sustainable, healthy food choices. We wanted to provide a mass market product filled with consumer knowledge and offer people a tool to access healthier choices.”
How did you develop the business model for Clevermeals?
“We found out through research that 90 percent of potential Clevermeals users get inspired to eat food and cook with the help of digital means, so we want to take this inspiration that the consumer feels to the shopping cart. Food is also a form of entertainment, and eating healthier is more complex than it seems. Most options are based on prices or personal preferences, but we provide knowledge and help the consumer to discover healthy shopping sites.”
Which services does Clevermeals provide?
“We provide a content blog aggregated with an app that contains a digital recipe book, a digital meal planner, and a digital shopping list. Three food content creators give our platform new recipes and lifestyle testimonials weekly. Clevermeals is now building artificial intelligence to stream healthier market options near the user’s location, filtering the content based on the user’s preferences.”
How was the process of developing the technology for your business?
“We are in the middle of that process. The backbone is Google since we want to use its technology and features in our platform. We have three tech building blocks. One is for content, which is finished. The second is AI, which we are building, and the third is matching market opportunities. We are now beginning to develop this part of the food tech platform.”
What makes your product better than what’s already on the market?
“The secret sauce of Clevermeals is how we encompass food discovery and shopping lists in one solution using artificial intelligence. We have competitors that are very big on content but don’t have the technology. Some other players have the technology, but they don’t have content. Our method, plus the technology, offers consumers more options and features.”
Was it hard to get financial support?
“Funding is always an issue. Portugal is a great place to perform a beta test, but it is a smaller market, which takes a lot of work to procure funding. We initially had a few strategic partners and knew the risks, but the potential payback was still more attractive. In February 2022, we applied for a venture certificate and now have access to funding. We have since received the first round of investments and are working on the second one.”
What are the plans for your business?
“We need to finish all the building blocks of the project and go international; to date, that is 60 to 70 percent completed. We still need automation to be finished off and are working on having it ready by the end of 2023. Our plan is to offer a digital infrastructure for healthy food that works with different market players in sustainability.”