Taryn Fixel is the founder of Ingredient1, which is transforming the way people discover healthy food. The Ingredient1 mobile app is a unique lens to discover foods you’ll love, see friends’ recommendations, and learn where those products are sold. Prior to ingredient1, Taryn was an investigative and documentary producer for CBS News and CNN.
How did you get into the health/tech industry?
In my former life, I was a documentary and investigative journalist with CBS and CNN. I loved my job, however I realized that it probably wouldn’t exist in 5-10 years. I started exploring innovations in content consumption, and how we use tech to collect, personalize, and share information uniquely. I left CNN thinking I would join or start a news company and along the path came up with the idea for Ingredient1.
Tell us about Ingredient1. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
Ingredient1 is transforming the way people discover healthy foods. We are creating your FOOD ID - a unique lens to discover foods you'll love, see friends’ recommendations, and learn where those products are sold. The Ingredient1 mobile app catalogues all natural and organic foods, allowing you to search by multiple granular ingredient and diet variations - so you can find exactly what you are looking for within a click of a button.
My mom and I were discussing how overwhelming grocery shopping can be - we could customize a car on our iPhones, but couldn’t figure out what foods matched our personal preferences. So I went to an industry food show and started asking why nothing like Ingredient1 existed yet. It became clear this would create a solution for both consumers and natural/organic brands that have a high failure rate because there is no clear path to discovering great products. So I started building it.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Ingredient1's success?
We want to know what our favorite chefs and food influencers eat, so we created the In1 Daily, a section of the app where you can find daily curated food recommendations, so you don’t have to stand in the grocery aisle wondering what the best kale chips or gluten-free bread is.
We also work directly with over 350 natural, organic, and specialty brands to verify that we have the most up to date selection of products that shoppers want to discover. These range from household name brands like Amy’s and Applegate to growing artisan ones. We make it free for natural and organic brands to participate, so there is no “pay to play” here.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
Food is personal. We expect cleaner, tastier choices - and as awareness increases about how food impacts our health, physical, and socio-political environments - mission driven entrepreneurs are filling the market gap by creating more of what we want to eat using sustainable practices. On the other side of that, large companies like Target are doubling their organic offerings this year. Three out of four stores are now selling organic foods, but if you’re only there for 40 minutes, there’s not enough time unless you want to move in. You might share about a restaurant on your Facebook feed, but even Stacy’s Pita Chips (which are awesome) won’t end up there. Ingredient1 creates a
discovery platform, and a seamless way to share products, which will help those brands to grow, thrive, and make more of what you want.
Everything, absolutely everything, happens for my greater good.
Be Picky! We’re reclaiming the phrase - you should get what you want. Our mission is to help people feel a sense of community, discovery, and joy when they shop for foods, whatever they're shopping for. We bring knowledge, health, and global change through the one thing everyone does every day: Eat. Dollars spent on food have stronger impacts than votes, yet there is no search and discovery tool to help people make personalized and informed decisions.
Your greatest success as founder/CEO of Ingredient1?
Creating the largest consumer facing dataset of natural and organic products that can be tailored and searched based on your specific dietary needs. Building a product that removes the chaos of the grocery store for shoppers and at the same time improves the success rate of healthy foods.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Find a person from whom you choose to have no secrets - someone you respect personally and professionally - who you can share your fears and successes without being embarrassed or seeming boastful. Even better if its someone you enjoy thinking through problems with. Someone detached from the outcome of your business, who roots for you and your long term wellbeing. It’s important to to detach your sense of self-worth from the success of your company. The support of someone who’s appreciation and respect for you isn’t tied to work will help you see that reflected back at you when going gets tough.
Describe the ideal experience using Ingredient1.
Create your food ID. Set diet preferences, like Gluten Free, and ingredient preferences, maybe you don’t want Refined Sugar, or hate Cilantro. You can then discover or search for foods that match these preferences, see the ingredients, allergens, nutritional information. In NYC, you can also see where to buy them. Get recommendations each day through the “In1 Daily” or friends lists. Create a Shopping List. And the best thing is, Ingredient1 evolves with you as your needs that day evolve - so you can adjust the settings any time - and discover a new selection of foods!
How do you motivate your employees?
It’s vital to make sure every person understands why what they are working on is important - and how that contributes to the whole or current sprint focus. Equally, it's important for each person to understand what their colleagues are working on, and appreciate how that gets us closer to the team goal.
Every team member juggles many projects at a startup. When people understand the mechanics of what is being done and why, they are more motivated to work on a task - even if its tedious. I should add, my team is sitting here saying “You motivate through Positivity and Awesome Food.” Often homemade. Or Dark Chocolate.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Sashimi and fruit infused water. I guess when it comes down to it, I have simple tastes.
What literature is on your bed stand?
Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
The Complete Works of Shakespeare by Christopher Marlow. Just kidding. Maybe.
Using interactive storytelling to contextualize and personalize information.
Favorite travel destination?
If forced to choose: Cape Town for its trifecta of mountains, ocean, and great food. London for the theater. The Hamptons for a short city respite.
What's next for Ingredient1?
We want to be the best food discovery network and then partner to close the loop to delivery. Eventually, Ingredient1 will be the lens through which you make any food purchasing decision.