Markus Falk, CEO, Lifesum On: Scaling The World’s Leading Digital Nutrition App

With over 50 million users spanning 250 countries and territories, Lifesum has solidified its place as the world’s leading digital nutrition app.

In the eight years since its launch, the Swedish company, founded by Tove Westlund, Marcus Gners, Martin Wählby and Henrik Torstensson, has evolved from a calorie tracking app to a full-scale platform that motivates users to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle with tailored plans for better eating.

Such is the brand’s remarkable growth, even market turbulence related to the pandemic couldn’t slow it down. In 2020, its user base grew more than its two closest competitors — Noom and WW — combined. Partnerships with world-leading organisations, including Google, Samsung, Apple, Nike and Amazon, as well as the backing of Nokia Growth Partners, Balderton Capital and others, meanwhile, have also helped to bolster its positive trajectory.

But the ambitious company isn’t done yet. 

Its vision of simplifying the path to long-term healthy living for millions of people around the world continues to guide business-wide innovation across everything from its use of artificial intelligence to the cultivation of customer relationships to its newly appointed Health Advisory Board — who, also tasked with helping the company remain innovative, will provide additional expertise in fields impacting nutritional success.

Realising the huge opportunity that still exists within the fast-growing, multi-billion-dollar personalised nutrition market, Lifesum continues to make inroads into adjacent categories including corporate wellness and consumer tech, at the same time, furthering its goal of empowering individuals to take control of their health.

To find out more about how Lifesum is planning on staying ahead of the curve, how changes in consumer behaviour around personalised nutrition are driving business growth and why tackling unhealthy diet culture is both the brand’s biggest challenge and opportunity, we sat down with CEO Markus Falk……

On helping to steer Lifesum’s trajectory……

Over the last 7 years, it has been incredibly exciting to see Lifesum grow into the world’s leading nutrition app with over 50 million users spanning 250 countries and territories in 11 different languages. 

As Lifesum’s CEO, my focus is on empowering people to improve their diet and live healthier and happier lives — and to use health tech to improve disease prevention and management. 

My team and I are shaping the company’s vision by putting nutrition and health at the heart of everything we do while acknowledging that everyone is different and there are many ways to eat healthily. As a result, Lifesum is personalised to each individual; with science-backed nutrition guidance, recipes, meal plans and trackers. It’s like having a nutritionist in your pocket, which our users love. 

Another way that we’re shaping the company’s vision is by creating strategic partnerships with the world’s leading organisations, including Google, Samsung, Apple, Nike and Amazon. This is helping to empower new users to understand the importance of nutrition and to eat healthily. 

On getting the user journey right……

We have all kinds of users; those with specific health goals and those who just want to eat better to feel better. As part of the initial onboarding process, users are asked what they want to achieve, and we explore their lifestyle to determine the best route for them. This information is used to create an individual personalised plan and solution for each user. 

As users engage with Lifesum, the app offers feedback on what they’re eating and how they’re progressing towards their goal. Equally important, we inspire people to make better choices and suggest healthy food that tastes amazing and is easy to cook. 

Lifesum also offers water, fruit, veggie and fish trackers, and our award-winning Apple and Google watch apps and widgets make it easier for users to track their progress throughout the day. 

On the importance of personalised nutrition……

First and foremost, we recognise that there’s no one way of eating healthy. Nutrition is complex and based on a number of biological and lifestyle factors, which is why Lifesum’s science-backed nutritional guidance, meal plans, healthy recipes and more are personalised to each user based on their goals, dietary restrictions and lifestyle. 

Our sophisticated technology, including AI-powered food rating algorithms, allows users to receive feedback based on the quality of the food tracked and helps them to reach their self-identified goals. Meaning they’re not getting generic feedback, but guidance based on who they are and what they’re trying to achieve. 

Our nutritional guidance is backed by the NHS and WHO, and our in-house team of nutritionists, food scientists and dieticians are involved with every aspect of the company, from product to design, to ensure that nutrition is truly at the heart of everything we do. 

Markus Falk, CEO, Lifesum On: The Scaling The World's Leading Digital Nutrition App
Image: Lifesum

On staying ahead of the curve……

We continuously listen to our users, which helps us to understand what they want and how we can successfully evolve the business. 

Our in-house team of nutritionists, dieticians, chefs and data scientists actively monitor and identify the latest developments and trends within their fields. This is balanced by our amazing product and engineering team that constantly look for ways to improve the app and user journey. 

Earlier this year, we launched our inaugural Health Advisory Board to ensure that Lifesum remains innovative and ready to meet the nutritional demands of our evolving user base. Current Health Advisors include the best-selling authors and stars of the Forks Over Knives documentary, Dr. Alona Pulde and Dr. Matthew Lederman, Founder of the Behaviour Design Collective, Andrew Zimmermann and MS, RDN, LDN and RYT, Christina Meyer-Jax. 

Our growing Health Advisory Board comprises experts from every field relating to nutrition, which helps us to approach sustainable habit-building from every possible angle. 

On the growing role of AI……

Our sophisticated technology, including AI-powered food rating algorithms, allows users to receive feedback based on the quality of the food tracked, which helps them to reach their self-identified goals. 

Additionally, we’re exploring ways to integrate A.I and machine learning for predictive tracking to enhance the user experience and make the journey as simple and easy to navigate as possible. 

On recent growth drivers……

It was during the pandemic that Lifesum surpassed 50 million users, as people realised how many of the underlying conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 — for example, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension — are all directly related to nutrition. 

At the same time, COVID shone a light on just how much our current healthcare systems could be improved, especially when it comes to disease prevention and controlling baseline health — and paying more attention to what’s on your plate is the pivotal first step. 

As a result, we’re seeing an increasing number of users engage with Lifesum, as well as organisations, such as PayPal, coming on board as part of our Lifesum For Work initiative, which allows companies to empower their employees with the best nutrition guidance, recipes and meal plans according to their individual goals and lifestyle.

COVID has forced governments, healthcare systems and insurance companies around the world to focus more on using nutrition to improve their populations, and this represents a huge opportunity for Lifesum to empower people everywhere to eat healthily. 

On the corporate wellness opportunity……

Companies are starting to realise the important role nutrition plays when it comes to enhancing their employees’ health and productivity. And they want to offer better solutions that work for their staff. 

There’s a huge opportunity as companies want consumer-grade products, rather than corporate products that have no traction among consumers. 

Lifesum for Work (LSFW) is our scalable nutrition program that encourages healthy eating to boost employee wellbeing and performance. LSFW has experienced triple-digit growth so far this year as employers globally look to better support their workforces during the pandemic. 

By making LSFW available to employees of leading global brands, we’re able to introduce the Lifesum wellness program, which includes nutrition advice, recipes, personalised health advice, as well as on-demand and live-streamed wellness content, to millions of people, which is helping to improve their nutrition and productivity.

On future innovations……

We have some very exciting plans for Lifesum for the year ahead, to create an even more personalised user experience, particularly when it comes to nutrition guidance and recommendations. We’re also developing better ways to provide feedback and support users along their journey. 

We’re also mindful of how society’s increasing toxic diet culture continues to negatively impact the way we think and feel about food. For Lifesum, this means being mindful of the user journey; using non-violent communications and incorporating psychology and behavioural science when explaining and sharing credible, trustworthy, science-backed nutrition guidance. 

On Lifesum’s biggest challenges and opportunities……

Moving forward, our biggest challenge will be to help consumers understand nutrition when unhealthy diet culture has skewed our thinking and when consumers are faced with an overwhelming amount of often conflicting information. 

Our biggest opportunity is advancement in consumer tech. Companies like Apple, Google, Samsung and Amazon are making this even more possible with infrastructure that we can leverage via mobile and wearables to better track and provide feedback to users.