Use this food app to manage chronic diseases

Vivek Narayan, founder and chief executive of GorMonjee, set out to create a platform that would not only help people make healthy food choices, but also lead to better health outcomes.

Narayan is a doctor who also holds a master’s degree in psychoanalytic theory and an MBA in health care administration. He grew up in Australia, attended medical school in India, and has family practicing medicine around the world. So it is safe to say Narayan has an informed opinion about health care and the role food can play in mitigating disease.

Not a Food Diary

“We’re not a food diary and we don’t want to be a food diary,” Narayan said about GorMonjee, an app that helps users customize healthy meals. “The idea is to provide contextual answers to what one should eat at any moment in time.”

Narayan got the name GorMonjee by combining two French words: gourmand and manger. He said the idea for GorMonjee came to him while he was working at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, Ohio as the director of program management and entrepreneurial education.

Narayan worked on GorMonjee while also holding down his full-time job until he left in 2014, after being accepted into a software accelerator in Cleveland.

Early on, Narayan focused on food’s role in the prevention of disease. Many of the women in his family have struggled with diabetes and they would ask him what they could eat. His family loves to cook, but diabetes was preventing the maternal people in his life from knowing what was okay to eat, and what foods could make them feel better.

“It became a very personal issue for me,” Narayan said.

As Healthy as Possible

So Narayan designed a platform that initially asks people what they want to eat, then helps them add or modify ingredients that make the ultimate meal as healthy as possible. GorMonjee then double checks and asks if a pre-designed meal was eaten. The idea is to clearly show how one’s diet impacts health.

Narayan knows he is wading into confusing territory. Diets, nutrition, and grocery shopping are complicated topics, and many consumers ultimately give up after trying solutions that lead to no discernable results.

But Narayan is trying to reach consumers at points where they start thinking about food—at the beginning of the day or before a meal—so that instead of having to track points or calories, one can instead get real-time information that guides them to making better decisions.

“Our job is to get all this complicated information and amalgamate it so that we can visualize and present it to you in a meaningful way,” Narayan said. He is also hoping that GorMonjee’s focus on prevention could ultimately mean lower healthcare costs for everyone in the future.

Fitting Your Lifestyle

To that end, Narayan and his team are adapting GorMonjee to fit people’s lifestyles. Some features, he said, are available on-the-go via an app, while others like menu planning are native on desktops or laptops.

GorMonjee will ultimately go wherever consumers need information about food, from the grocery store to the restaurant to the dinner table.

Narayan came to Gigster to develop the front end of his platform after having already developed the underlying algorithm. He said Gigster helped him create modules of work that he could afford on an a la carte basis.

GorMonjee is currently in beta, and Narayan is hoping his medical background, family roots, and business experience come together to help people manage and enjoy what they eat.

“I have a very good idea of how medicine works globally,” he said. “If the philosophy is food as medicine, then we’re very much on the prevention side of things.”

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