University News

App acts as personal nutritional assistant

Users can download Atbee on iPhones to order situational packages of healthy food, supplies

By
Staff Writer
Friday, October 16, 2015

Brown undergraduate and graduate students have joined with community partners to launch a new app called Atbee that acts as a personal nutrition assistant. Atbee aims to “personalize health and nutrition to make your life easier” and make healthy food more accessible, said Alexandro Pando GS, a doctoral student in biology and the chief operating officer and co-founder of Atbee, Inc.

Consumers who are in Atbee’s service location can download the app on their iPhones, sign up and select a specific situational package. The “starving artist package,” which is popular among Rhode Island School of Design students, includes blueberries, a healthy energy drink, nuts, moist towelettes, drawing paper and green tea with ginseng.

For those experiencing difficulty falling asleep, the “sleep package” has “everything that’s healthy to help you sleep,” Pando said. “Instead of taking pills, you can call Atbee.”

After the order has been placed, Atbee producers deliver the meal or situational package within 40 minutes, Pando said. “This is a self-sustaining economy,” he added.

Pando had the idea for the app while observing friends who needed remedies for particular situations, such as the inability to sleep. He and other co-founders sought to tackle this problem by launching Atbee months later, over the summer.

Currently, the app’s only service location is Providence, Pando said. But he hopes to expand to Boston by the end of the year, he added.

The process of launching Atbee entailed several months of development and collaboration with various people, including Matthew Cooper ’18, who helped with coding, Pando said.

Pando reached out to Cooper for assistance with iOS coding after attendeding a “Hack the Ratty” event, which was a series of mini hack-a-thons, Cooper said.

The startup community and the computer science department at Brown provided a supportive environment in which to launch the app, Pando said. In particular, Pando was able to attend Hack@Brown in February, where he met other members of the startup community and learned more about their own ventures.

Brandon Murphy ’17, a junior at Emerson College, assisted with social media and marketing for Atbee before leaving Providence for Boston. “My hope for the app is for it to reach as many consumers who are vegan and vegetarian that I know will benefit from it,” said Murphy, who has been vegan for 10 years.

“I have always been conscious of what’s in my food and what my food will do to me,” he said. “We have Uber; we have GrubHub. But we don’t have an option for consumers that is health-conscious in the college setting.”

The app also includes the nutritional value of the food, Murphy said, adding that he believes this information allows for the transparency and quality of Atbee.

“We’re not just a delivery service,” Pando said. “This is a customer-driven venture.”

So far, the response to the app has been positive, wrote Tracy Zhao, who served as an intern and brand ambassador for Atbee last spring, in an email to The Herald. “When I would tell people about Atbee, they would say, ‘Great, it’s about time something like that comes around,’” Zhao wrote.

Looking ahead, Atbee aims to expand to Android, “fine-tune” the items contained in each situational package and make delivery more efficient, Pando said. “I hope Brown students are excited that something that started here is tackling a big problem.”