Ruddy is a personalized marketplace where users can order food based on their diet, individual preferences, location, daily habits, and lifestyle goals. In this interview, founder Cyrus Nejati shares his personal story and discusses the importance of knowing what you eat.
I’ve always been a fit person and have never had any issues with my weight. But during my university studies, I spent an entire year without going to the gym and I ended up gaining weight. It wasn’t a huge gain, and given my history, I was confident I knew how to get back in shape. I never imagined how hard it would be to lose those extra pounds.
I’d thought that people who struggled to lose weight just lacked motivation and weren’t dedicated enough, but after struggling for a while, I realized it was actually really hard. I was downloading a lot of calorie counting apps, trying to follow up and write down my diet plans.
My biggest issue at the time was that as a student, I couldn't cook every day or prepare my meals in advance. I was eating out a lot and I didn't have the time to follow up on the diet plans. Often the food was too difficult to cook or required ingredients that I didn’t usually have at home or that I simply didn’t like.
It took a long time before I was able to get my figure back. By that point, I was really into nutrition and I was constantly counting calories. After a while, I could make a good guess at how many calories were in the dishes I was ordering. Of course, it wasn’t exact, but it helped me to plan my diet.
I always had this mentality where I would just moderate myself and it worked out great for me. I would say to myself, “today you went to the gym, so it's okay to eat a few more calories,” or “if you're eating pizza today then tomorrow make sure that you work out harder.” I was talking to my other friends who were also into fitness and they had similar routines. Whenever I spoke to people who had trouble losing weight, I noticed a recurring issue: these people had no idea what they were eating.
It's not bad to have a pizza or a burger every once in a while because if you monitor your diet, it’ll be okay. So I thought it would be really cool if there was some sort of database showing the nutritional value of all the food eateries in different areas. This way, you can choose based on what fits you rather than creating a single meal plan for everyone. That’s how the idea for Ruddy was born.
Two years ago, I created the first prototype. We started development around August 2020 and then in November 2021, we started testing it in the market. We're in that phase of going live and we’re still doing a little bit of testing. We're looking for funding from early VCs or angel investors so we can build a management team and set up the operations to a level that can support large-scale business.
The first version of Ruddy, which we’re running right now, is a marketplace where you can order food that’s tailored to your diet. For example, if you're in Brussels and you want to eat something vegetarian with only 700 calories, you can choose those parameters in the search and Ruddy will tell you which restaurants in your area have foods that correspond to what you're looking for.
Every time you order something on Ruddy, we register it on your profile so you can see how many calories you're consuming on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, as opposed to how many you’re burning. The same goes for proteins, carbs, vitamins, and other macronutrients. Ruddy is all about that personalization.
There are a lot of apps out there that show you how to cook at home, and I wanted to give customers something different. Having access to restaurants in terms of diet and nutrition is something that didn’t exist before. I wanted to bring something new to the market. That said, we do plan to add the cooking part as well.
We want to make your diet personal to you. The more information you provide about your lifestyle, whether it’s the restaurants in your area or the food you like to eat at home, your cooking skills, and your daily habits, the better we can personalize your experience and ultimately your diet.
We try to get the restaurants onboard by increasing their value proposition. The value that we give them is mostly based on getting them involved in a new health culture. On social media, everybody's talking about diet, physical health, and mental health. People are going towards a health-conscious way of thinking. It's a completely new way for them to promote their business without spending a lot of money on advertising.
If you have a restaurant and you're looking for new ways to promote your food, you should look into Ruddy. Unlike other platforms, we’re not focused on discounts and price reductions. Instead, we focus on the popular diet and health trends among customers. We’re the only platform that does this today.
On the customer side, we have people who care about their diet and well-being. When I speak about dieting, I don't necessarily mean counting calories. You might have allergies or sensitivities that require you to avoid certain foods, or you may have cultural preferences, religious restrictions, or ideals that determine what you eat, like vegan, vegetarian, halal, kosher, and so on. In that sense, Ruddy is truly inclusive and can be personalized to any set of needs.
At this point, we’re still building the foundation for it, but in the future, we want to work closely with research centers and universities to study the eating habits of customers to help them manage and improve them.
When it comes to dieting, there’s a lot of science that people are missing. You get advice from friends or family who aren’t necessarily experts on what to eat and how to lose weight, or you might watch some videos on YouTube that are rarely based on scientific data. So I think it’s important to bring in some real research behind the suggestions that we're offering to customers.
Since we’re dealing with a regional marketplace, we're trying to have official and unofficial restaurants on our platform, so that everybody can join. We’re based in Brussels, but we’re adding new restaurants in new regions every day. You can subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll let you know once we launch in your location.
Currently, we’re focusing on growing our marketplace. We’re also adding new features for our users to help them better plan and manage their diet regarding their workout routines and the recipes that they like to cook at home.
Besides our business operations, we’re looking to partner up with investors and other brands to grow our startup.