Free Startup Idea Fridays: The Food Graph

This is my latest post in my Free Startup Ideas series.

I've been coming up with business ideas since my earliest childhood memories. Most of them have been absolutely terrible. Some of them have been decent. And now I'm going to give away some of my best ones for free.

Am I really give these ideas away with zero expectation of return? Absolutely.

  1. Ideas are worthless. It's all about execution. If you want to take one of these ideas and run with it, do it. I'll even be happy to give you a brain dump with all of my notes on the idea as I’ve been thinking about most of them for a while.
  2. I take coffee meetings all the time with people looking for startup ideas. Perhaps one of these ideas will help them spark a new idea of their own.
  3. I want to get these ideas out of my head to clear some of my brain's RAM. That way I can come up with new and better ideas.
  4. I like giving things away and planting seeds.

Without further ado...

Pitch: Nowadays, technology companies know more about our lives than we do. They meticulously analyze the data we provide them and make incredibly accurate predictions about us. Most of the time, this data crunching adds value to us as a user. One area that has been woefully ignored in this department is food. I want a company to possess and analyze my food graph, and no one is stepping up to the plate.

Backstory: I am incredibly conscious of everything I put in my body. I have experimented with many diets not for the sake of losing weight, but primarily to be healthy. This involves everything from the food I purchase at the grocery store to the food I purchase when I go out to eat. I'm always looking for way to improve the food I'm consuming.

At one point, I thought that supermarkets were going to do something useful with this data. Some of them have loyalty programs where they are tracking every single item I bring up to the register. Imagine the ridiculous information they have on me. And then my grocery store cut the loyalty program. They told me that I didn't need to scan my card or enter my phone number anymore because they now have everyday low prices. Seems dumb to me, but I guess if you're not doing anything with the data anyways, it doesn't really matter.

The Food Graph

The food industry is a trillion dollar industry. That doesn't mean shit when assessing this opportunity at all, but it's how so many startups pitch their ideas. The reason I bring it up is because we as humans really don't understand nutrition at all. Watch this clip from Jamie Oliver's TED Talk if you want to be depressed our our education system. But it's not just children, it's adults, it's parents, it's scientists, it's nutritionists, it's everyone. We just don't understand food.

The first step to learning and improving anything is to measure. If all you did was show people the amount of terrible food they ate on a daily basis, you'd have a very interesting business. Take it a step further, do a little analysis and show people the nutrient deficiencies that they are creating every day. That alone is pretty cool.

Once we have that basic information though, things can get very interesting as we start to create uniquely personalized food graph. We can start making recommendations to people based on their own individual taste.

"Oh, you occasionally enjoy a cherry coke. You should really try this."

"Oh, you typically eat a crappy fast food burger for lunch on Thursdays. Why not try a burger from this place right around the block that's a little better."

It's a super interesting opportunity. You can help coach people on an individual level at a massive scale. You help people make one simple change in their diet. Substitute this for something slightly better for you. You boil the frog. You're not trying to take someone who eats fast food every day and replace that with salad. We know from decades of experience that it won't work. Maybe for very short periods, but no long term.

This food graph can be an amazing discovery and recommendation tool. It can be incredibly to improve the diets and health of people looking to improve what they eat. And most importantly, it can be an education tool as Jamie Oliver has showed that we desperately need.