Startup Series: Meet Clear, the company personalizing your nutrition
Here we are, 2020. New year, new decade, new you right? Your resolution this year is the same as every year, to eat healthier and have a better diet. You've got the brown rice, chicken and green veg meal prepped for the next month and you're feeling good that you're going to stick to it this year. Thing is...What if that brown rice, chicken and veg is actually not responding well with your body?
Hayden Young;Yingzhao Zhu
January 3, 2020
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For years we've been told that certain foods are good for us and certain ones are bad as a flat rule. The thing is, recent research does not support this. We've been lead to think that what is healthy for one is healthy for all. Instead, the research shows that everyone responds to food in entirely their own way.
We've been fed a food falsehood (pun intended).
Rising from the ashes of this research is a shift on how we think about and approach nutrition. One of the companies pioneering this shift is Antler portfolio company, Clear.
The name is fully intentional. Clear remove the shroud of mystery over what foods are actually good for YOU so that you can know which foods provide you the optimal energy to perform at your best and it's frustratingly simple to find out...
Your response to food is personal.
— PIET HEIN VAN DAM, CEO & CO-FOUNDER OF CLEAR
The quote above was at the core of Clear's messaging during CEO & co-founder, Piet Hein's recent pitch at the inaugural Antler Amsterdam Demo Day, which you can view below:
So how does Clear work?
Clear isn't just a company sprouting some new health theories based on research. Their tagline is: "real-time precision nutrition" and they provide just that.
They bring every customer who signs up for their service into a three-week-long program. During this period, aptly named "The Clear Health Program" the user has a small white chip implanted into the side of their arm, to measure the user's blood glucose levels.
Inside the chip is a monitor that the user then registers to an app on their phone. Every time you eat something, you log the food in the app and then touch the phone to the monitor. Within 15 minutes you get a read out of just how this food has affected your blood glucose levels.
Let's have a look:
Above are actual screenshots from the monitoring app. The charts show the user's blood glucose level throughout the day (the green bar is your optimal glucose level). On the left, you can see lots of peaks and valleys meaning this person is eating foods that are causing their blood sugar to spike and then drop dramatically. This leads to feelings of tiredness which Clear states can overtime lead to feelings of burnout at work and further on, to obesity.
On the right side, you can see an example from someone who has gone through the program. After being brought out of the dark about what foods are best for them, they have been able to keep their blood glucose levels at a much more healthy range, meaning they have sustained energy levels throughout the day. After the end of the 3 weeks, Clear provides you with a personalized nutrition plan so that you can maintain this going forward.
The most striking part is that what may be causing these spikes on the left side could be foods you have always thought to be the most healthy for you (like that brown rice I mentioned earlier). Indeed, Piet Hein always starts off every new batch of users with what he calls "The Banana Test" to prove exactly this point:
"During our program, we choose one day at which we all do the banana test. Everybody eats a banana and we simply compare results. We will see that the individual responses to this simple test will range from "a good food for you" (low glycemic response) to a "you better avoid this" (high glycemic response)," says Piet Hein. The variations are quite striking in a food you always thought was healthy for you.
The Clear program provides more than diet advice through an interactive community support (a WhatsApp communication group, online and offline events), as well as individualized nutritional plans & recommendations to maximize your health. By trail tracking your diet with a light-size glucose monitor sticking to your upper arm, Clear analyzes the diets that work for you based on your activity level and food tolerance levels. After that, the smart system will provide diet competency reports to you and recommend foods and types of diet that you should go with in order to live better (and eat better). The whole program is powered by real-time AI analysis.
For the shortened version: wearable device measures blood glucose > you log food, exercise, mood, sleep > Clear analyzes > you get a personalized nutrition plan > you know what to eat to maintain energy and weight. Get to know Clear in just 60 seconds by watching the video below:
By the numbers
Don't just take our word for it. At the time of writing, only 5 months after its launch, Clear has built an impressive community growing at 10% above their projections, with over 15,000 unique visitors to the website, over 300 program participants and a EUR32K gross revenue.
The program is gaining clout in the media too. They've recently on-boarded some big names in the Netherlands, such as Katja Schuurman ("How not to die" documentary producer, VIDEOLAND by RTL), Radmilo Soda (founder of SODA Bodyfit), and Dana Albers (Dutch Olympic snowboarding athlete).
Who is behind Clear?
Piet Hein van Dam, co-founder & CEO of Clear, holds a Ph. D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Amsterdam and has successfully exited two previous startups. He has always been fascinated by building businesses that consumerize huge amounts of complicated data; especially the data that previously, consumers had no access to (like your blood sugar levels for example). Enabling consumers to be behind the wheel of their own biology.
Another key cog in the Clear machine has been the research and guidance from key advisor Georges Janssens. Georges holds a Ph. D. in Systems Biology a Masters Degree in Biomedical Sciences and is currently serving as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Amsterdam Academic Medical Center. At the core of his research has long been to understand why and how we age, so that we can do something about it. Nutritionally, physically, or pharmaceutically.
So what's next?
According to Piet Hein, Clear is currently developing its very own app that empowers people on the go. With simultaneous health updates and a real-time shopping cart enabled to track your food purchases, Clear is truly on a mission to make everyone master of their own health.
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