When we decided to apply to YES! BCFN we were in Italy. It was summer and what we had in mind was only a dream. Now, exactly two years from that point in July 2014 I can look back and see something. I see a bunch of experiences, hundreds of new faces, a company incorporated, and an impact created. It is astonishing how fast things can happen if you have the right boost and the right injection of confidence. The Barilla Center brought me back to my native Italy after years of international study. We were thrilled to be accepted into this unique community, which brought young and experienced minds in the food and nutrition world together to create ties, work for a better food future and share knowledge.
Two years ago our dream was called MindFood. It was a questionable pitch of 10 slides where we explained an idea to reward people for their physical activity with healthy food. It was an educational tool in mobile application form. There was no real business model behind it but it was already possible to envision the impact we might create. Now, it is called Feat. It is a company that gathers, collects, shares and creates: technology, people, lifestyles, wellness routines, healthy food, and community. It has been made tangible through the production of FeatApp, but continues to evolve and expand as a concept to reach a larger audience.
From our idea we started taking action. In a few short months we found partners. I joined the Food Innovation Program. I embraced Design Thinking and we started prototyping. I learned to use what resources were available to put the idea into action. I took a pre-existing step counting app and asked my fellow Master colleagues to sign up. I kept them accountable for the steps they took each day, and compiled the data from the app. I ranked their positions and started offering small rewards for those with the most steps. I took to the streets and shared my idea with passer-bys to get feedback. I approached the first food vendors and asked if they would help contribute to creating a stronger, healthier community and was surprised they were so easily on board with my plan.
All of a sudden our idea was being validated. We then moved on from prototype to business plan to technical development. We involved outside sources to help create the initial beta-version of FeatApp. We tracked data incessantly, talked to users and shared the project with everyone we encountered. By October 2015 we had the first version of FeatApp available on the App store. It was exhilarating to see what could happen in just one short year.
But the official launch brought more investigation. Personally, I didn’t see FeatApp, as something static. I wanted Feat the concept to continue to grow, and Feat the App to be a catalyst in making change When I look back at my own experiences, especially in making Feat a reality, I realize how important community is. I wanted to explore this aspect so we took Feat into the corporate world, testing out a pilot program with employees of the same company, and using it not only as an incentive for better overall health, but as a team building exercise. I believe that every opportunity to take Feat into a new environment is priceless. I’m not saying that it is easy. It has been extremely hard. I’m not saying that it is perfect, but maybe it shouldn’t be. There are countless little mistakes we make each day and should improve but I like to think that making mistakes is a result of action. That making mistakes is a sign of progress, and isn’t completely negative
We continue to move forward on various fields. We explore the technology side, trying to adapt so that FeatApp users can have the best experience for the most rewarding interactions. We continue to track data, involve researchers and write down results. But most of all we continue to share, expanding our contacts and networks and allowing Feat to take many shapes and forms.
This article was originally written for the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition website.