BagIQ Tries Its Hand at Streamlining Food Tracking While Gathering Data
Keeping tabs on what we eat should be easier thanks to technology—but the many different apps catering to health-conscious consumers can make it confusing.
It is a crowded space, with calorie and exercise trackers such as MyFitnessPal and LoseIt among the competing options. This month, BagIQ in New York launched its app that CEO and founder Matt Stanfield believes will make it nearly effortless to record the nutritional content of meals. BagIQ is a division of Stanfield’s company, Information Machine, which was founded in 2012 and developed a platform for collecting data from retail.
Stanfield says after users sign up, BagIQ passively records all the food they order from online sources such as Seamless and GrubHub, or purchase at certain stores with loyalty cards. Through the smartphone app, users of BagIQ can also take photos of receipts from stores and restaurants to log the food they procured.
In addition to the nutritional information that most tracking apps record, BagIQ also points out what Stanfield calls misleading terms and questionable ingredients. He compares it to having a dietitian who offers advice. The app can suggest alternative food choices that may help the user achieve nutrition goals, such as losing weight or reducing their intake of sugar.
For example, if a consumer habitually buys certain desserts, the app can recommend slight changes that, when repeated consistently, may lead to noticeable improvements, Stanfield says. “If my goal is to reduce fat, all I need to do, perhaps, is buy less Oreos and more Nilla Wafers,” he says. “It’s not a real shift in behavior; it’s just moving those purchases.”
Gathering anonymous purchase data generated by users is BagIQ’s planned path to monetization, Stanfield says. “We take out any personally identifying information and move it over to an analytics database,” he says.
The information BagIQ collects, he says, can offer insight on consumer purchasing habits, which brands can use to market comparable, alternative products to users. Stanfield believes he will gather enough data to compete with market research companies such as Nielsen, Kantar, and IRI.
There may be other, undiscovered uses for such information further down the road, Stanfield says. “Once that purchase data is collected, there is a universe of metadata about products, from warranties to FDA recalls to the latest controversial ingredient,” he says.
BagIQ, like other food tracking apps, draws upon nutrition and ingredient information available from product labels and data brokers who collect such content. Stanfield says users cannot manually add or edit the nutritional info—and that might not be a bad thing. Apps such as MyFitnessPal allow users to offer edits to nutritional info for food, which can lead to multiple entries for the same product and no guarantee the user suggestions are accurate.
Stanfield says BagIQ is bootstrapped and he may seek funding to accelerate growth. Prior to founding BagIQ, he worked for game developer Human Code in Austin, TX, which was acquired in 2000 by Sapient Technologies in Cambridge, MA. In 2011, Stanfield went out on his own to found his company.
BagIQ is working on additional features that Stanfield plans to release in the coming weeks. This may include price comparisons on food, digital coupons, and possibly online order fulfillment, with the help of retail partners, through the app. He also wants to increase the company’s capacity for passive data collection. “Anywhere there is a digital footprint of a purchase, we want to be able to support accessing that,” Stanfield says.