Compeat Nutrition is like carrying a dietitian in your pocket. One that won’t make you feel bad about what you’re eating but instead empower you to improve your relationship with food so you can make your own informed decisions.
The app-based platform was designed by couple Alicia and Dan Edge, and takes a different approach from traditional dietitians and other nutrition-based apps. Specifically, Compeat Nutrition is more human-centered and flexible depending on the client’s circumstances. “We’re flipping the usual science-first approach and focusing on the health and the person first”, says Alicia. “We want to enable people to improve their relationship with food through leadership, positive empowerment and more human understanding”.
The Compeat Nutrition team do this by embracing behaviour change and sparking curiosity in their clients, rather than simply demanding action from people. The platform is less about prescribing and telling people what to do, and more about using positive reinforcement to empower people to make their own decisions. This flexible, person-first approach starts from the moment you download the app, with an onboarding process that relieves the anxiety and fear of an initial consultation session.
"We've automated the entire process of what would be an initial consult", says Dan. "And it's much more consumer-friendly in the sense that the dietitian doesn't have to sit across from you and give you information while making you feel judged at the same time. People are often sitting anxiously in the waiting room before they've even met the dietitian, and we really want to break down those barriers so people can feel comfortable."
After onboarding, clients can scroll through the platform's various dietitian profiles to find one they connect with or best aligns with who they are. Once they’ve chosen a dietitian, the client can start chatting with them immediately. "The first chat is all about discussing the client's needs, finding out their why, understanding who they are and what their approach to change is", says Dan.
"We really want to learn who people are and why they're here, and from there we can build a profile that fits them and their needs", adds Alicia.
Because of its personalisation, the app looks very different depending on who's using it. “The dashboard adapts and changes with each client, and the control is within the client and dietitian to design it based on what's best for the client right now", explains Alicia. The idea is to provide the right knowledge, confidence and training to allow the client to progress. One of Compeat Nutrition’s main focus points that makes it stand out from similar apps is the desire to abolish finite goals when it comes to nutrition.
Alicia says, “Whether it’s weight loss, body fat percentage, calorie count, or a personal best time, our nutrition goals are often so finite. That creates friction because people focus on the ‘what’ and not the ‘why’. And when they reach the end point, they’re left asking, what now? What’s next?” As a result, the app focuses on a person’s ‘why’ and provides leadership assistance so clients can see the reasoning behind decision making. Eventually, the goal of Compeat Nutrition is to educate and empower the client so they can go on to make their own informed decisions. "I'd prefer someone to not need us forever", says Alicia. "I want them to graduate to a place of empowerment so they can really look after themselves".
The idea for Compeat Nutrition first popped up after Alicia gave birth to their first child. Previously working as a dietitian at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, she found that it was difficult to re-enter the workforce as a new mum. "We had moved to Forster, a beautiful town but without many elite athletes in sight", remembers Alicia. "So we started thinking, does a dietitian really need to be in front of people? Are our services more valuable in person or could we add more value by integrating into someone's life?"
After some brainstorming, the couple realised that nutrition doesn't happen in a consult setting, it happens in the day-to-day. “From there, we started to develop the Compeat Nutrition technology and unpacking that person-first approach which really came to define our platform as it is today”. In line with this philosophy, one of the platform’s standout perks is that there’s no need to set appointments or wait for a suitable time to speak to your dietitian. Clients can just hop onto the app and shoot forth any questions, fears or uncertainties as they arise rather than waiting until later. It’s all a part of the app’s people-first service.
To help them develop the technology and business model, Dan and Alicia applied and were accepted into Newcastle’s Slingshot Accelerator program. The startup program gave them the tools and knowledge to bootstrap their startup and start nailing its pitch before approaching investors. Dan and Alicia especially found the Slingshot Accelerator valuable in terms of making contacts, meeting other local founders and learning about the flourishing startup ecosystem in Newcastle - all of which helped launch Compeat Nutrition into the successful app that it is today.
If you're thinking that Compeat Nutrition's person-first, integrated approach could be applied to other healthcare services, you have the right idea. Eventually, Alicia and Dan would love to see the platform applied to other healthcare providers, transforming the industry to be more about empowerment than giving and following orders. For now, though, the Compeat Nutrition team is focused on cementing their position in Australian sports and are already training several Olympic athletes and sporting teams.
To others in the midst of creating a startup, Alicia and Dan have a suggestion: choose the people you listen to, because there can be a lot of distractions. "Everyone has an opinion on what you should be doing”, says Dan. “And when you're still trying to find your way and innovate, you don't have the answers. You're just trying to build and understand things, grow things. Then everyone comes in with an opinion, and you have several different opinions, and then it can all become pretty draining".
Luckily, Compeat Nutrition managed to navigate the minefield of personal opinions to land where it is today: an industry-first technology with a unique approach to nutrition.