Temi Alanamu, 32 is married toRob Renton and mum to Eve, age 1. She is the founder of Whatsinit?, a food ingredients and allergies app that helps users quickly and accurately understand what is in their food. Read on to find out how she came up with the idea:
We had the idea for Whatsinit? in 2015 when I and my husband Rob were made redundant and financial constraints forced us to buy and eat cheap, processed foods. Prior to this time, my genetic condition, called Sickle Cell Anaemia, meant that I had to be very careful about what I ate and I had always tried to eat fresh, nutritious food. Having to eat a lot more processed food was a bit of a shock and I would research every ingredient label on the foods that we bought to ensure that I understood exactly what I was eating. But the more I read ingredients labels, the more we realised that we had no idea what many of the ingredients in these foods meant. So, we decided to build an app that helped us and others quickly and easily identify and understand food ingredients. We partnered with professionals in the food and health industry and over two years we built the Whatsinit? MVP which was released in May 2017.
The app was particularly useful when I began shopping for follow-on milks for my daughter. The ingredients are so cryptic that before Whatsinit? you either needed a chemistry degree or hours on the internet to understand them all. Now I just take a picture of ingredients labels, and I know what each ingredient means so I can make the safer, healthier choice.
How does the app work? Users simply take a picture of any food ingredient or ingredients label. If they wish, they can also say or type the list of ingredients. What’s in it? rapidly produces the full list of all the ingredients all colour-codes according to safety with short, easy to understand descriptions that includes nutrients and potential side effects. Users can also actively avoid ingredients such as allergy-causing foods, MSG or animal by-products and they can save and share what they find.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business: The daily challenges. There is something new to learn every day.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business. The success and the failure of the business depends on us and that can be an overwhelming realisation.
How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business? It is hard to fit working and family life especially as a new mum who also works a full-time job in academia. My husband is a co-founder and my business partner and he gives me all the support that I need. But sometimes it feels like there are not enough hours in the day.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business? Yes. The entire business has been so far self-funded. We are now raising funds to expand the business and the app’s functionality to create more tailored premium features that also encourages user input.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else? No, starting a business is the best decision I ever made.
Do you have an exit strategy? Once Whatsinit? has attained the goals that we have set, we hope to integrate its function into a larger, health and fitness focused app.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come. So far, our I made it moment was the day that we launched the app. Many very good ideas never see the light of day because the process of turning an idea into the business is very difficult. Launching Whatsinit? was a product on 2 long years of hard work and we were very proud of that achievement.
Where do you hope to be in five years time? Still running Whatsinit? which would by then be a very successful business.
Temi is co-founder of Whatsinit? the new food ingredients and allergies app that allows you to scan ingredients labels to see if they are safe or to be avoided. Available to download for free at the App store and Google Play. https://whatsinitapp.com/