To realize that the United States is in the throes of a nutritional crisis, all you have to do is pay attention. We are a country festering with obesity, eating disorders, and nutritionally caused conditions such as diabetes. As the founder and CEO of a new company targeting this crisis, alumna Alaina Hanlon Adams has her finger on the pulse of a country in big nutritional trouble. Her company, NuPlanit (http://www.nuplanit.com/), empowers people to sustain healthy, balanced eating habits using mobile technology and a network of nutrition experts. The mission of NuPlanit is quite simply “to help people establish healthy, balanced eating habits by empowering self-improvement and connecting to expert support.”
As John L. Brooks III, president and CEO of the Joslin Diabetes Center, explains, “NuPlanit is solving a substantial unmet clinical need by delivering a compelling behavior change solution that is cost-effective, engaging, and impactful.”
Adams says that “I was inspired to start NuPlanit because more than 100-million people in the U.S. are either struggling with their weight, struggling with their body image, or need to modify their eating habits to improve their health. Yet, the countless options available fall short of addressing the root of the problem.”
Adams recruited an expert to help her launch NuPlanit, its co-founder and COO Robert Jahreis, with over 30 years of experience in business and tech management for care management, managed care, physician, hospital, academic, and government entities.
NuPlanit is attempting to solve a very complex problem with a simple, elegant solution. As the company website explains, “We make over 200 nutrition decisions every day, and each decision has a direct impact on our physical and emotional health. Our eating behaviors are complicated. A simplistic calorie-counting and dieting approach will fail in the long run and can cause deeper harm, bringing about feelings of guilt, shame, and failure. NuPlanit is there to help people succeed by making these decisions easier and less emotionally driven and connecting to the right level of support when it is most needed. The NuPlanit technologies are founded on evidence-based principles of phenotyping, nutrition science, behavior science, and machine learning to deliver lasting improvements in physical and emotional wellbeing.”
Additionally, NuPlanit provides tools for nutrition experts (dietitians, for example) to better support their clients, grow their practice in innovative ways, and maximize insurance reimbursement in a changing healthcare environment.
Adams has over 10 years of experience in preventive, self-diagnostic, technology development and running technology start-ups. She also has a deep personal understanding of the challenges associated with nutrition behavior modification and how preventive technologies can play a critical role in helping increase the success of patients and their clinicians.
As Adams explains, “After struggling with a nutrition-related illness eight years ago I began exploring how remote sensing and preventive technologies could be innovatively applied to healthcare for preventing physical and mental illnesses. It was at this point that I realized I had the personal experience with an illness to deeply understand the problem, the training in engineering to solve this complex problem, and the passion for entrepreneurship to turn a solution into a company.”
NuPlanit is also doing a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo until January 13, 2015: http://igg.me/at/nuplanit/x/8997799.
NuPlanit actually evolved from an earlier start-up by Adams. In 2009, she co-founded PhenotypeIT, Inc., which provided health and wellness software solutions to help individuals and organizations better identify and manage chronic health issues, and then she led the pivot of that company into NuPlanit in 2013.
While she was a grad student at UMass Amherst, Adams also co-founded Condition Engineering Inc., a civil engineering company that produced equipment to monitor the physical integrity of earthworks such as dams, levees, and tunnels. This company was honored with several awards, including winning the $50,000 UMass Innovation Challenge in 2007 and a grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.
Adams has also been awarded fellowships from NASA, the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium, and the Isenberg Fellowship from UMass Amherst. She has received numerous honors for her work in the area of engineering, entrepreneurship, and innovation, including the 2010 UMass College of Engineering Outstanding Junior Alumni Award for “serving as a worthy ambassador for the college and demonstrating extraordinary effort and notable success in her early career.”
In addition, she has worked with organizations such as NASA, General Electric, and a therapeutic medical device start-up.
Adams received her B.S. in Marine System Engineering from Maine Maritime Academy and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from UMass Amherst. (December 2014)