Meet the Founders - myWellabee

Over half a billion people around the world actively avoid food allergens when shopping for food. That figure is growing and highlights the ever-growing food intolerances and allergies issue. Navigating the complex world of food allergies and intolerances is tricky, but one determined father is on a mission to change that.

myWellaBee is an Advanced Food Discovery Engine for easy identification and purchase of allergy-friendly or dietary-specific food ideas from any retailer (big or small) with an online presence.

Meet the founders, Aziz Shariff and Dr Nerissa D’Silva. They are one of the start-ups taking part in our three-month Sprout 2022 Accelerator in the Cohort IX intake.

“myWellaBee helps families navigate the complex world of food allergies with an intelligent search engine powered by a comprehensive and proprietary nutritional database - augmented by Machine Learning & AI algorithms in the near future. It allows customers to search for food that meet their unique dietary needs with a high degree of accuracy,” said Aziz.

It’s a cause close to the hearts of both founders. Aziz and his young family have a range of allergies and intolerances, so they have a complicated relationship with food. Meanwhile, Dr. D'Silva, an allergist and clinical immunologist based in the USA who has thousands of patients just like Aziz and his family, comes through her doors, struggling with all the same problems.

“A big issue for many people is they seek out help, get the information they need but often end up eating all the same foods with no variety because it can be difficult to find food or meals that tick their restrictions. We want to offer people ultimate food freedom,” said Dr D’Silva.

The name myWellaBee came from the desire for a brand name that is playful, inviting and credible and puts a fun spin on something that can be challenging and stressful for people. ‘my’ speaks to the highly personalised nature of the offering, ‘Well’ for wellbeing and ‘Bee’ for its links to health and navigation.

Their passion for finding a solution to the problem has been a driving force to get them learning the ropes in the tech space and finding the right people to work alongside to pull everything together.

“I say it’s a bit like we’re building the rocket as we’re flying it. It’s all doable, we have a strong group of software providers and technical advisors to support us, but it’s a lot to learn. That’s one of the main things we are hoping to get out of Sprout is being able to expand our team with the right people we need to take off,” said Aziz.

They have clearly defined aspirations and have planned how to reach them too. They are wanting to build a global business with annual revenues of more than $100 million. To do this, they want to unlock four key building blocks to fuel their growth:
1- B2B pro subscriptions focused on nutritionists and dietitians
2- B2C subscriptions for families
3- B2B sponsor subscriptions for food brands & retailers
4- B2B for insights and analytics

“There are a number of businesses around the world that would see the value in f the anonymised data at an aggregate level that would come out of people using our platform, so that’s an avenue we are looking at as well as the obvious pathways.”

While their current pathway is clear, it wasn’t always so. They’ve had to do a fair bit of listening to the users to figure out which path to take. In the beginning, they were keen on the idea of working with early childhood educators. After developing a concept and putting it to them, they discovered there wasn’t a massive pull. Through social media and other networks, dietitians and nutritionists started asking about their idea, eventually seeing them pivot their plan of action.

“A part of start-ups is listening to users and being open to where the demand is coming from.”

Aziz and Dr D’Silva know the impact the success of their business could have on many individuals and families, it’s a lot of pressure, both internal and external, to ensure it’s a success. To deal with feelings of doubt, Aziz always thinks back to the book ‘Seven habits of highly effective people’ which speaks to focusing on your circle of influence rather than your circle of concern.

“Essentially there’s a lot you can worry about that can lead to paralysis, that’s outside of your control. Focus on what you can control, it might take more money or time, but it will help you navigate through anything.”

While so far proving to many that having a start-up business and a young family is do-able, Aziz says his advice to others wanting to follow their entrepreneurship dreams is to jump in sooner rather than later.

“I often think it would have been easier to do this before having children, but it is do-able if you have good support - plus, empowering my family and many other families to discover food freedom was the inspiration for myWellaBee in the first place. I wouldn’t be able to do this without my wife, and I hope she knows just how appreciative I am for her support in this journey.”

Find out more about Sprout Accelerator.