A Tech Startup CEO: The Rulebook

IT companies in Sri Lanka

Joel Burgess is the CEO and Founder of Nutrifix: the app that puts healthy on the map.

Since inception back in September 2016, Joel and Nutrifix had an initial twelve month rollercoaster which included a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign where they raised nearly £200,000 from 375 investors. In the same year, Joel entered the Just Eat Accelerator program, but he was “never really happy with the tech”.

In year two, Joel raised a further £250k from a private US investor and Calcey Technologies were invited onboard to strengthen and amplify the tech. Now, armed with a handsome new app, a fresh deal with Deliveroo, and a growing customer base, Nutrifix are looking to go nationwide in UK and beyond.

Clearly, it is the perfect time to catch with Joel in his favourite London coffee shop and find out about his startup CEO rulebook.

Rule #1: Know Your Market
Joel’s love of all things healthy is born from his background in sport and competition. Back in the day, he was on track to be a professional rugby player before a serious injury—and two neck operations—sidelined his dreams of playing for England.
Regardless, his commitment to health and fitness didn’t stop. In the subsequent years, he becomes a personal trainer, competed in boxing competitions, and is now studying to be a nutritionist.

It is this constant self development in the industry that he is disrupting, that means Joel truly knows his market.
“In the beginning I just chatted to friends in the gym. I kept hearing that between working out and working full-time, eating healthy was a daily challenge for many people…”
“I realised that my mission is to take away the stress of healthy eating”

Rule #2: An Early MVP Is King
Amazingly, Nutrifix’s first MVP was a simple spreadsheet made for Joel’s personal consumption. His weekly eating plan outlined all the healthiest options out of London’s ubiquitous lunch scene: Pret, EAT, Wasabi etc. His gym buddies were so impressed with it they all wanted one too. He started selling spreadsheets for £75 each.

“From that moment I knew I was on to something. If people were buying my dog-eared Excel spreadsheets, I knew there was a bigger market to explore. I did a few tests on facebook: statuses questioning my active network what would make their life easier. An app that guides you around town to healthy eating options was the answer.”

Rule #3: You Don’t Have To Be A Techie
After completing an MSC in mechanical engineering which provided him with the ability to “problem solve”, Joel had stints in the Dubai, Jakarta and Singapore property markets, before returning to the London and the restaurant development scene. He categorically states, he is not a techie and cannot build software.

Regardless, he took plunge into the startup app space:
“In the beginning I made every mistake under the sun! I passed the app production to a UK developer and we just rushed it out. By time we won a place in the Just Eat Startup Accelerator I realised the tech was awful. But I knew we had a ‘half’ an app, a decent pitch and cool idea… I wasn’t going to give up.”

Rule #4 – Be Open To Change
The app-build continued with a different developer but this didn’t work out as planned either.

And that’s when a friend with solid business connections put the feelers out for high quality software engineers and introduced Joel to Calcey Technologies.

Calcey stepped in and pitched and from the first moment I knew I was in safe hands, despite them being based 4,000 miles away in Sri Lanka!”

Joel employed a consultant CTO to oversee Calcey’s early development projects and he was very impressed from the off set.
“What I liked from Calcey was that they asked the right questions. They were determined to completely understand my business and what drives me.”

That meant Nutrifix could suddenly grow from an app that helps users find healthy meals near their location, to something with much richer technical scope:

“This now applies an algorithm to score every meal according to a user’s fitness goals, dietary preferences and their physical information—height, weight, age etc. The algorithm then recommends meal plans that according to the user’s daily targets, considering numerous technical variables including sugar, fibre and saturated fat contents.”

At present, the Nutrifix is supplying meal recommendations for approximately 5,000 regular users and there are over 90 vendors in 9,000 locations. The recent Deliveroo add on however—which conveniently enables healthy eating to user’s door—should fast track Nutrifix user user base into the stratosphere.

Rule #5: No Regrets
“If I did all again, I’d have bought Calcey in from the start”.

But Joel also knows all too well that the ups and downs of Nutrifix’s first year—and it’s stuttering tech development—made them more robust for the challenges ahead. It all also granted them extra time to fundraise which was vital in not only raising financial investment, but also for realising that lots of people were really behind his idea.

Leading a startup business in the mobile age requires confidence, courage, patience, the ability to problem solve… and?
A great team of agile software engineers that buy into your idea”.