MyNutribox Founder Noora Al Askar Wants To Help People In The Arab World Lead Healthier Lives
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
This article is part of a series on pioneering entrepreneurs in Kuwait that Entrepreneur Middle East has built in collaboration with Kuwait Finance House. Kuwait Finance House is considered a pioneer in Islamic finance or Sharia’a compliant banking, with it being the first Islamic bank established in 1977 in the State of Kuwait, and is today one of the foremost Islamic financial institutions in the world.
Founded in 2018 by Noora Al Askar, MyNutribox is a health and wellness platform that acts as your "virtual pocket nutritionist" personalized to the individual’s nutritional needs and health goals, with the mission to empower the Arab world live healthier life lives.
The platform also gives users access to a network of global experts who can offer personalized diet plans, virtual nutrition consultations and product recommendations to make informed choices towards healthy living. With its algorithm, the app will send healthy habit modification aps and reminders to personalize a user’s journey. The tech entrepreneur is a US board certified clinical nutritionist, with an aptitude for entrepreneurship. She obtained her BSc in Human Genetics from the University of Leeds, moving on to obtain her MSc in clinical nutrition, with research in the area of obesity prevention and management. She took this further with PhD level research in human nutrition, focusing on obesity management in young adults.
Her journey to entrepreneurship was ignited at 23 years old, when she built the clinical nutrition department at a top private hospital in Kuwait, which got accredited by the Joint Commission International and turrned it into a top operating profit center. In 2013, she also co-founded and managed a holistic juice company, and later entered the Idea Track of the MITEF Startup competition with MyNutribox as an idea on paper (and with a different name too). It was inspired by her patients at the clinic and the consistent pain points she was witnessing. The idea was selected as one of the top finalists, after which, they also became finalists for the Health Innovation Challenge for the FIFA 2022 World Cup. In 2016, she resigned from her position as Director of Nutrition at the hospital and began her journey to becoming a tech entrepreneur.
In part, she says she was also inspired from her brother Khalid Al Askar and cousin Mohammed Jaffar, who built online food delivery platform Talabat and wherein she spent days learning and absorbing information from the team on social media, sales, marketing and product development. After researching extensively and talking to various developers and engineers, she built her core team and began actual development of the platform in iOS. In 2017, she won the Zain Great Idea competition and was selected as one of the top 10 startups to be a startup in residence at an accelerator in Silicon Valley. After licensing the company, hiring a strong core operations team and creating operational systems and process, Al Askar credits Sheraa’s seed program in May 2019 as one that gave them a boost in direction as it’s through the program that they fine-tuned the customer journey and value proposition.
Initially self-funded, the startup is raising their first seed round from angel investors and are gearing up to launch a nationwide campaign in the Kuwait market in March, with UAE and KSA next this year too. On being an entrepreneur, she comments, “It’s tough, and being an entrepreneur is not fun and games, but it’s an adventure, and I love adventures! If you have a passion for the problem you’re solving, a solid business model, and that desire to really do good and benefit people, your passion will fuel you through! You have to have guts, gumption, heart, and solid faith.”
As for their future plans, Al Askar says they envision to be the go-to nutrition and weight loss platform in MENA region that delivers results and truly helps you transform your life. Eventually, they plan to “become a growth machine and enhance our entire customer experience and business process through behavioral science, automation and machine learning.”
Excerpt from a conversation with Noora Al Askar, founder and CEO, MyNutribox:
What has been the most negative feedback on your products/services/business solutions that you have received and how did you go about it?
The most negative feedback was actually constructive, it was always about ways to make the product simpler, and we always take that onboard. We listen to our users, experiment, perform some AB testing, and roll out updates on a consistent basis.
What are the three main pillars of the profit model of your business? How has that changed over time?
We’re a young business, having launched into the market in March 2019. The nature of our business is very data driven, and I believe at this stage at MyNutribox what’s important is having a solid backend architecture and data analytics dashboard, effective digital marketing and a having sustainable way to deliver value to our customers while increasing engagement, growth and retention.
What are some of the main considerations that entrepreneurs should keep when starting up a business in Kuwait and why?
Unit economics is key and truly understand the market you’re entering and love it. Enter a market you have a passion for, don’t just start a business for the sake of it. Have a purpose, solve a major problem and solve it proficiently. When you truly understand your market, you can see opportunities and pathways that others may not, and this will really help when faced with challenges.
What are some of the opportunities that you see available in the Kuwaiti market today and what would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
We’re very blessed in Kuwait to have a very strong and supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem, and my advice would always be to start small! Don’t be afraid to test your product or hypothesis out first before diving deep into building your business. Anything is possible, literally anything and you can and will succeed but only if you go about it diligently, and start from the bottom up, it really is a journey on so many levels, and that’s the only way you’ll learn as an entrepreneur and succeed as a business. Especially in tech, it’s a whole different ball game. Just have faith, believe in yourself, understand your market, listen, be diligent and solve a problem in a way that truly adds value to your customer.