Wollongong startup Build My Body caters to individual needs through personalised nutrition shopping

- January 28, 2016 5 MIN READ

The one-size-fits-all approach rarely lives up to its promise, no matter the market. Countless businesses have fallen into the trap of selling their product around the world to a global market using the same products and methods of sale, not taking into account cultural and individual differences. Each market has distinct characteristics just as each individual has different needs.

Looking closely at the nutrition space in particular, there are countless recommended diets taking that one-size-fits-all approach using the most obnoxious phrase ever: “if I can do it, you can do it.” This mantra packages the consumer into one generalised box and fails to see the consumer as an individual.

The health industry doesn’t look to benefit the individual and fails to recognise that, physically, we’re not all the same. One in seven Australians suffer from celiac disease but rarely do you see a weight loss program that targets only 30 percent of the population. For instance, programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers are all out there to prove that anyone can lose weight. According to these programs, the way a mother of two kids loses weight is the same way an amateur athlete loses weight. Obviously this is not the case in reality – each have different levels of fitness and nutritional requirements.

Wollongong startup Build My Body caters to the individual to fill the gap in the health and nutrition marketplace, which founder Fabian Di Marco believes desperately needs a revision of the ‘one size fits all’ model; he believes that, for the average consumer, the sports and nutrition industry lacks innovation and development.

As a result, the startup has designed a virtual shopping cart that creates personalised boxes of nutrition products.

“The problem here is that one size doesn’t fit all, so if you look at nutrition products if you go to GNC or Coles, there’s over twenty thousand nutrition products out there and ninety nine point nine percent of them you don’t even need,” Di Marco explained.

“If you look at it this way, with pharmaceuticals or pretty much anything in health, if you want to release a new product, what they do is they do a bunch of tests and if the test works on eighty percent of the people to give them the results they want, they will release it to the public. So what about the other twenty percent, what if you’re one of the twenty, you don’t know that.”

Build My Body caters for even that one percent of individuals through specialised boxes of nutrition that only include what the consumer really needs. This is based on the information provided by the customer. Users sign up to the platform and fill out information on their goals, training and diet specifics including allergies or illnesses.

After completion the user is assigned a specialist who is able to build a box that’s right for the consumer’s needs. Once the box is filled with products, the consumer can view a breakdown of each product and see the nutritional value and ingredients. Consumers approve of the products and head to the virtual checkout where they can choose flavours or change the volume.

Di Marco wants to place emphasis on the fact that his model doesn’t pressure the consumer into buying everything.

“We understand that sometimes you don’t need everything, or some people just want to know what’s right for you and you’ll go somewhere cheaper, so when you login you see what products are right for you and in what combinations, but then you can buy the ones you want and pass on what you don’t want,” he said.

Di Marco wants to reinstall trust within the consumer and provide them with clear and transparent products that contain exactly what they say they do. Every product available on the site is globally certified or NATA lab tested – these include all nuts, Paleo cereals, oils, vitamins, and protein powders. Build My Body has positioned itself in the active nutrition category, leveraging off a highly successful US model called Trunk Club that pairs consumers with their own stylist. Di Marco refers to his startup as the ‘Trunk Club for Nutrition.’ 

Build My Body wants to get consumers used to being health conscious and wants to take away product confusion.  The concept of single aisle shopping is a hyper personalised service approach to product shopping. So instead of shoppers browsing through an eCommerce store with hundreds of products and becoming overwhelmed with the range of choices, Build My Body offers selection, where consumers can SMS or email their specialist at any time to check the quality or authenticity of the products provided. The platform targets consumers who are intolerant or susceptible to vitamin deficiencies, athletes both amateur and professional or consumers who want to find something particular.

“The people we’re speaking to, these active people, don’t have the time to go to two or three different stores and speak to different sales staff, and go in there and lug four kilos of products around. They don’t have the time to go onto an eCommerce store and browse through hundreds of products, and even if they did, how do they know which ones are right for them,” said Di Marco.

Marco explained that Build My Body is like walking into a store where everything is right for you. Currently the online store has around 80 products that can be shipped to anywhere Australia wide.

Each box works off a cost per product model so personalised boxes can range anywhere from $2 to $100 depending on the types and volume of products. Build My Box charges the retail price of each product and makes a note of not being competitive but being specialist.

“You have a specialist you can speak to any time you want, who’s also putting the program of products together, who’s researching information about you as well,” said Di Marco.

In terms of competition in the marketplace, currently in Australia the gap is wide open. No other startups are closing in on the niche market of personalised nutrition and supplements. As mentioned, the market targets the mass, not the individual. While there are personalised diets for particular needs, the eCommerce stores for supplements push out hundreds of products and lack focus. Di Marco wants to turn Build My Body’s personalised nutrition shopping into a global business. He sees the US as a viable market that’s worth over $18 billion, while in comparison Australia is only $1 billion.

The startup was officially launched on January 4 this year and Di Marco estimates that over 20,000 members will sign up in their first year. The business has brought on two international advisors Matthew Cantelo and Gavin Coombes to assist with growth.

Since launch the platform has opened up to exercise professionals and personal trainers who have already started to recommend products on Build My Body to clients. The platform provides these professionals with a virtual store they can set up for their clients and as an incentive every time their client buys a personalised box the trainers get paid for it. Di Marco believes this is a good way to scale his business and push it out into the Aussie market before going global.

Image: Fabian Di Marco. Source: Supplied