We talked to Piero Linares, Co-founder and CEO at Fitia on how to lose or gain weight with a custom plan and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Piero Linares: Fortunately, we are fine so far. But this pandemic is going to be with us more time than we thought, affecting not only people health but the economy as well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Fitia.
Piero Linares: I am passionate about nutrition and fitness since I was a teenager.
I always wanted to improve my physique and performance in sports. Unfortunately, I do not have great genetics so I tried a lot of things that the market offer (fad-diets, non-sense supplements marketed without scientific evidence, “detox” juices and the list goes on…). This trial and error taught me to differentiate between what works and what doesn’t. This passion drove me to learn more through scientific research and to study a specialty in Fitness Nutrition (besides my career in Industrial Engineering).
Later, a friend of mine, which know how to code, enrolled to a nutritionist. But, in the process, he wondered if most of the nutrition recommendations can be automated following the established nutrition guidelines in scientific research. And the answer was yes. That’s when Fitia was born, and, a year after launching, we have more than 600,000 users.
How does Fitia innovate?
Piero Linares: Through user feedback, you can’t innovate if you don’t know your user. Actually, we run more than 15 interviews per week of selected users, which take a lot of time but they are very rich.
A common problem we fall before was designing features that users asked. And maybe you are wondering what’s the problem with that? The problem is that almost always, the feature requested by a user does not solve their root problem or need.
A good rule of thumb is asking 5 times “Why”. After that, is almost sure that you will know the root problem, and with this information, you can design a better and even cheaper solution compared to the originally requested.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Piero Linares: Actually the pandemic did not affect us because we are a SaaS business and we do not require physical contact with our clients.
It was even a benefit because more people are now in their houses, which means more accessibility to healthy food and cooking. So it makes it easier to follow a nutrition plan.
Which lessons did you learn in your entrepreneurial journey?
Piero Linares: To focus on product and user. Besides that, everything is secondary. If you have a great product, you have free marketing, free word of mouth, free mentions in the media, genuine interest from investors… everything turns organic.
A lot of startups now are focused on winning competitions, which takes a LOT of your time (which would you have used to improve your product). Don’t focus on winning startup competitions, focus on winning and retaining users. And the only way is through a great product.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Piero Linares: Maybe our closest competitor is MyFitnessPal, but they are recognized as a calorie counter, a thing which we are not.
Fitia does not only count calories but gives you personalized recommendations according to your specific needs. We do not only deliver results but also educate our users on how to make smarter choices and improve nutrition habits.
Your final thoughts?
Piero Linares: We have a lot to do. Unfortunately, nutrition is not a “hot” topic that investors look at. Maybe for every nutrition startup, there are more than 100 fintech startups.
And the sad thing is that 1 in 5 deaths in the world is associated with a poor diet. +60% of people in Latin America and the U.S. are overweight or obese. +95% of people who lose weight, regain it all after 1-3 years.
And this is made worse by the market replete of solutions without scientific evidence promoted by influencers, scamming people not only with their money but also with their time and hopes. Our mission is to fix that, that’s why we are here.
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