Startup Series: Meet Bitewell, the platform providing dietitian curated wellness
Chris Fanucchi is no stranger to traveling for work. As the co-founder of beverage companies KOIA, a plant protein drink now available at Whole Foods nationwide, and Limitless, a lightly caffeinated sparkling water acquired by Keurig Dr. Pepper in January 2020, Chris spent years traveling the country as he built two successful businesses from scratch. But Chris encountered a persistent problem as he traversed state lines: he constantly struggled to maintain healthy eating.
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July 10, 2020
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Chris's struggle wasn't fueled by a lack of selection, but a lack of understanding which products were genuinely healthy options and where he could buy these items. Making healthy eating decisions is difficult, time-consuming, expensive, and there are no existing companies that pair healthy food recommendations with delivery services. "The research on the Internet was so fragmented. I realized there was a real opportunity to create a house of wellness: one place and one brand that you could rely on for all your food decisions and I really started obsessing about that," Chris explains.
Chris's solution? Bitewell, a platform that ties data-driven dietician recommendations with last-mile food delivery. By layering nutritional and diet information on top of leading food delivery companies, like Grubhub, Peapod, and Freshly, Bitewell makes these recommendations from experts accessible and shoppable. Bitewell services will include restaurant food delivery, grocery delivery via shoppable recipes, meal kit delivery, and nutrition advice.
Chris began building Bitewell in August 2019. By January 2020 he'd partnered with Jen Widerstrom, who now leads the company's influencer programming and recruitment, to ideate, work through problem statement validation, and create Bitewell's brand and assets. But Chris ran into countless technological challenges that impeded progress in developing Bitewell's application. These difficulties prompted Chris to enter the Antler US program in February 2020. He dove straight into dedicated coaching sessions with Antler advisors and sought out technical support.
"After getting accepted to Antler, I challenged myself to push Bitewell into the world as soon as possible, especially given the urgent need to eat healthily in the COVID era," says Chris. He quickly linked up with Sameep Sheth, an engineer he met in the program. Chris told Sameep that he wanted to immediately develop a text message marketplace to highlight emerging brands along with the application. The pair dove in and Bitewell launched the text message marketplace in June 2020. (Sign up for it here.) As they finalize Bitewell's application development, the text message marketplace allows Bitewell to preemptively enroll users and build excitement before the launch.
Bitewell secured pre-seed funding from Antler after successfully pitching to the Investment Committee in June 2020. Chris's advice to founders joining Antler? Enter with a crystal clear idea of what you need from the community. Chris advises, "I knew that I wanted VC funding, backing from the tech world, and engineering help. And I'm literally getting exactly that."
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