Unhealthy eating habits is an increasing issue in the western world. In the US alone, 70% of the population is classified as overweight. Although the problem is accelerating, it is also preventable. Personalized nutrition software company, Lifesum, is on a mission to improve lives through better eating habits in a fun and easy way. We met the company founders Henrik Torstensson and Marcus Gners, to talk about the rise of digital self-care solutions.
Lifesum, founded in Stockholm, helps millions of users around the world improve their diets. With 45 million registered users and a service available in 11 languages, Lifesum frequently ranks among the top 10 in App Store's Health & Fitness category. They recently partnered up with Amazon Halo and were also highlighted at Apple’s WWDC20 conference for their innovative approach to personalized nutrition using technology.
What’s your main goal at Lifesum?
HT: We want to enable people to lead healthier and happier lives. Health is universally important — something everyone cares about, no matter who they are, and I truly feel that we can make a difference in a lot of peoples’ lives. I see our influence not just on an individual level, but on a larger scale. We’ve built a service that makes a difference for a large number of people and while making the world a little better is good, touching a lot of people is so much better.
"We’ve built a service that makes a difference for a large number of people"
MG: We hear lots of stories from a variety of users who have found that using our platform has made them happier. The stories are very different. Some of our customers are feeling lethargic and a bit overweight, so they want to learn how to eat and live smarter. Having a digital service like Lifesum that helps you along during the day, encouraging, reminding, and teaching you what to do as you go along can be a game-changer. Sometimes we encounter people with very arduous life journeys. Being a companion on the journey into who that person wants to be is amazing.
When did you know that you were onto something big?
HT: We knew that we were working on something worthwhile pretty early on. We saw the holistic health trend rise as smartphones started taking over. We noticed a gap in services that helped users improve their diets and wanted to use our experience from online entertainment to approach this problem in a modern, user-centric way. We launched in 2013 and had a big milestone already in 2014 when Lifesum was highlighted in Apple’s keynote 2014. The feature boosted our confidence and escalated our desire to enter the US, which now is our biggest market.
What does it take to succeed in digital health?
MG: If you’re looking to succeed in the field of digital health, you need to find an angle from which to approach the pertinent issues. What is useful to individuals and to larger groups of people? How do they actually think and act? Being consumer-centric and treating your users like consumers, not patients, while constantly measuring how well you are delivering value is a good formula that will take you far. Health is hard for everyone. Making it fun and inspiring is key. You need to be able to create something that utilizes existing technological innovations, even though regular people don’t really care about that. They’re simply looking for something that can change their lives and help them to solve the problems they have.
"Being consumer-centric and treating your users like consumers, not patients, while constantly measuring how well you are delivering value is a good formula that will take you far."
TH: Lifesum is a unique, high-value solution in one of the fastest-growing segments within the large nutrition, wellness & fitness market. That’s probably why we have managed to attract a loyal international user-base.
What kind of people do you surround yourself with?
TH: We are cause-driven. You only have one life, why not make the most of it? Lifesum is creating a self-sustaining connected ecosystem of healthy living and leveraging the billions of data points collected to refine and further enhance the personalized user experience. That’s a pretty interesting place to be. Today´s top talent needs meaning and strong “why’s” when choosing where to work. At Lifesum we work with one of the biggest problems in the world. To compete at a global level, we need many perspectives so diverse talent is important for us. We have more than 20 nationalities and a 50/50 gender split in the office. This leads to better ideas, but also to a fun and interesting workplace.
You’ve managed to stay afloat in an industry that’s ever-changing. What advice would you give to your younger self?
HT: It takes a long time to build a company that has an impact. With that in mind, I'd tell my younger self to "Focus on solving users' needs, make the company stronger every year and refuse to give up."
I'd tell my younger self to "Focus on solving users' needs, make the company stronger every year and refuse to give up."