FoodMarble: A Breath a Day Keeps the Doctors Away
One in eight people struggles with digestive problems. The thing that poses a real threat, however, is not the disease at hand, but the largely neglected medical sector behind it. The lack of resources has made digestion testing devices quite pricey, and what’s worse, not every hospital has one at its disposal.
Then, Aonghus Shortt, Lisa Ruttledge, and Peter Harte came armed with knowledge, skills, and brilliant ideas. They invented a device that compensates for all medical shortcomings. Next up - Food Marble walks around town, boasting solutions!
AIRE is the Food Marble’s gem. An app-synched device, it helps patients breathe through it. In turn, AIRE reports on the patient’s nutritional status. Interestingly, the device is not the first of its kind. Yet, it‘s the only one intended for both medical and personal use.
Read the Irish tale of Aonghus, Lisa, and Peter, who proved that a breath a day keeps the doctors away. Here’s how.
Born under the Algorithm Star
Aonghus Shortt, Lisa Ruttledge, and Peter Harte were all born in Ireland, as Millenials. Knowing this paints the perfect picture of how their childhood was spent.
It’s safe to say that these millennials had a flair for numbers and algorithms since childhood. On their first computers, they weren’t gaming, but analyzing and studying computer parts, too. Like other teenagers, the future founders were dreaming big and their dream was to study technological phenomena. They were tirelessly cultivating their passion for computers and numbers, so when the time to pick careers came, all knew it had to be something to do with computers and engineering.
Maybe it was fate that brought the founders together or the synergy between them. Either way, they all followed in each other’s footsteps and enrolled at the University College of Dublin. As fate would have it, they were Dublin’s finest students. Aonghus Shortt opened the student chapter in 2004 and ceremoniously closed it in 2013. During this time, Aonghus graduated and held his Ph.D. thesis by 2013. He finished with honors and right after college found himself a job at Electroroute, where he’d spend the next two years.
Lisa Ruttledge was also of the same breed as Aonghus. She enrolled at the University College of Dublin in 2006 and graduated first in class in 2010. Lisa studied Electrical Engineering. In 2015, Lisa became a Dr of Philosophy and was awarded the European Doctoral Student Awardee. Afterward, she became the founder of The Think Academy.
Peter Harte enrolled at the University College of Dublin in 2007 and graduated from Electronic Engineering in 2011. Professionally, he was sharp and fast-thinking, which led him to also earn a Ph.D., the thesis of which he defended in 2011.
Scientists in Their Natural Habitat
In her mid-twenties, Aonghus's wife, then-girlfriend, suffered from digestive problems that affected her overall mood and energy. The digestive discomforts aren’t health-threatening but dispute the person from doing daily tasks as per usual.
Seeing her struggle day in and day out, Aonghus desperately wanted to find a way to help. As this happened whilst still at university, Aonghus got an idea and gathered his friends, soon-to-be co-founders, to come up with a solution to the riddle.
Aonghus told his friends that he wanted to design a device that solves every digestive problem known to medicine. Birthing an idea like that is an Everest-sized task; yet, walking the road there was never an issue for the group. They next googled a stat on how many people suffered from digestive problems, and it said - one out of eight.
After learning the alarming figures, the founders could not leave the matter to rest.
Then and there, the concept of Food Marble was brought up. Climbing the mountain of success kicked off with the preparations for developing the device they envisioned.
It would be compatible with every patient’s digestive system and it would help them track their digestive health on a daily basis. When asked about their invention later on, all founders agreed that: ”Being typical scientists, we wanted to solve the world, not just sympathize.”
Learn the Ropes to Know the Ropes
After lectures or lab practice, the founders would gather and research possible dietary information and science-backed information. Once the information was collected, they then put their engineering knowledge to good work and got inventing.
The founders had to dedicate more time to the device. To speed up the process, in 2016, they applied for Sean O’Sullivan’s HAX Accelerator in China. Good news traveled fast and they were granted the accelerator. But, what the founders had really been waiting for was the $100,000 investment, as part of the acceptance deal.
In China, the friends absorbed every knowledge on prototyping, manufacturing marketing, and design. Sharper and brighter, they were ready to push their product forward. Through eagerness to start the device prototype, the team struggled to find the adequate components to build it. What they did find was online stores, where the parts were sold. After it was built, the founders named it AIRE, with Peter Harte explaining the meaning behind the abbreviation. It was a combination of words; AIRE as in air; as in the Irish words for care, and as in the Japanese word for guts.
Breathe the AIRE
The core problem of digestive problems occurs when there is hydrogen in the guts. More importantly, every digestive problem is individual, rather than generic. When food isn’t entirely processed, it ferments, thus creating hydrogen in the guts. As most of the hydrogen gets exhaled, with Food Marble’s AIRE device, patients can track the food processing by measuring the hydrogen levels in their breath. The device also works paired up with the Food Marble app.
On it, patients can log their daily food intake and register what food suits their digestive system. The app also reports on stress levels and generates a sleeping schedule.
The device works quickly and effectively. Patients breathe onto the device for five seconds and wait for the app to do the rest.
Food Marble in the Making
Following the prototype design came its marketing and presentation to investors.
This phase usually follows a series of meetups, but the founders skipped through it all, and instead promoted the device themselves. First, they put their product online to reach a target audience. Immediately after, the demand for the device skyrocketed. When word got out to struggling patients, the device was sold out in no time and has remained in demand with every restock. By the end of 2018, the company received $1 million in revenue. just from 8,000 pre-orders.
This was enough for the company to initiate production and further development of the device. The huge demand for the device reached London as well. In 2017, the company received €1.7 million in a funding round from Breed Reply, SOSU, and a few other London-based investors.
The Portrait of Food Marble
The founders initially used the profits to create a team. They grew from four to sixteen employees - all of whom held Ph.Ds. Foodmarble was launched in 2016, right where everything started – in Dublin, Ireland.
Since the beginning, seven investors loyally backed the startup, including Business Venture Partners, Halo Business Angel Network, SOSV, and Breed Reply.
In the summer of 2018, the company managed to ship off all its pre-ordered devices. The official launch of the device happened in December 2018 and made a real boom at the Christmas fair.
By 2019, the company officially stood on two healthy legs. Food Marble aimed to reach €1 million in funding but then, it actually earned it on its own. During 2019, the founders kept themselves busy in REFINING the product and enriching the Food Marble’s device collection with descending products 2 and 3.
The Numbers Speak for Themselves
The company aimed to sell the product in the English-speaking markets, and ship AIRE+ to the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Food Marble’s revenue indicates the greatest product demand is in the U.S., with $2 billion made in America and an overall profit of - wait for it - $12.9 billion.
Digestive discomforts are a thing of the past, all thanks to Food Marble and the glorious team to develop who led it to recognition. From utter professionalism to determination and practicing what you preach, it took a team of three to grace millions of patients with a device that efficiently proves that a single breath can save lives!