Early this year, Santiago, my co-founder, reached out to me for the first time, having originally connected via a co-founder social network. He had an idea that he had been working on for over two years, actively began developing the prototype a few months ago, and was now looking for a partner to help drive this into a venture that could make a huge impact on the world. I must admit, I didn’t immediately grasp both the scope of the problem as well as the proposed solution. This however was not a reflection of Santiago’s ability to communicate (I will soon tell you about his superpowers), but instead a proof of my inability to connect with the problem.
So, why didn’t I connect with the Problem?
At this time, I had lived the entirety of my life in Nigeria where conversations around food intolerances, allergies and dietary preferences were hardly mainstream. Additionally, online grocery shopping is way less commonplace in Nigeria than it is in the UK. For context, online grocery retail is a £25B market in the UK and still a $142M opportunity in Nigeria (although with a faster growth rate than the UK). You can therefore imagine my struggles as Santiago described the shopping challenges faced by individuals like himself who had food allergies, intolerances or dietary preferences. These hassles had been compounded by the Pandemic and the attendant social restrictions, with as high as 1 in every 3 households in the UK having to buy their groceries online. Unfortunately, online grocery sites don’t cater well to 70% of people who shop with specific food preferences. Tedious reading of individual ingredients list of products and poor recommendations, leave consumers tired, frustrated, and having to stick with what they are used to.
…and the solution?
As I listened, I couldn’t deny Santiago’s brilliance and passion when he spoke of his personal connection to the problem (and his background as a prodigy entrepreneur who had made some money on arbitrage trading of vintage watches). He discovered at a young age that he had corn allergy, comes from a household of diverse food intolerances and personal dietary choices, and soon realized that he only always had the same set of food. As a result, he began to reimagine a world where households like his don’t have to spend an extra 3-5minutes reading the food label of every single food item they purchase, spend much more money in trying to cater to diverse dietary requirements or shut out a world of food because finding a new safe product for the family can be time-consuming and stressful. What would a solution that takes away all these hassles look like?
His timing was perfect but I needed time to also align my thoughts and plans! I was soon going to be a father and had been reflecting deeply about the kind of world I was building for my child. In addition, I was just finalizing my migration to the United Kingdom as an exceptional digital talent under the Global Talent scheme. In the end, it felt serendipitous. With my background in CPG manufacturing and marketing, I began an extensive study of the problem and soon comprehended the scale of potential impact that could be made. After a few weeks, with a lot more conversations and envisioning, I was convinced that we were onto something great.
Avoiding one or more food allergens — for years or for life — to protect one’s health is no easy task. It takes an incredible amount of dedication, time and research by food allergy patients and their care providers to ensure they are making the right food choices when they shop, as well as when they eat away from home. The hurdles are even greater for socioeconomically disadvantaged households.Food Allergy consumer study conducted by FARE
Clickerance (Click + Tolerance) is on a mission of re-imagining and simplifying grocery shopping for households with dietary requirements (restrictions or preferences). Starting out, we are building a browser plugin that serves as a trusted assistant for users to easily know what the entire household can have, can’t have and discover safe substitute recommendations previously walled off to them. However, we recognize that the scale of the mission would require more than the product solution described above. Nonetheless, I am convinced that if there is any one team on the face of the earth with the ambition, expertise and credibility to pull of this mission, it would have to be the trio of myself, Santiago and Anas (our genius CTO whom I will write about in the future) alongside the three amazing engineers on the team (Yusoof, Naufal and Fajri).
It’s always Day 1
I believe we are in the very early days of what promises to be an exciting journey (with anticipated highs, lows and in-betweens). We recently closed our pre-seed round to get this mission started. A big thank you to the many angels who have put their faith and precious capital behind our ambitions and given us fuel for getting to the next level. For us at Clickerance, it’s always Day 1.
*P.S: …and one other very important story. I became a Dad on June 25, 2021.
* Originally published on my personal blog