Aberdeen-based LiberEat was founded to make life “safer and easier” for people will food allergies or dietary requirements, according to co-founder Barry Leaper.
In recent months the startup has raised eyebrows both in the Scottish tech ecosystem and further afield, and was named as one of Tech Nation’s ‘Rising Stars’ earlier this year.
The firm’s technology significantly reduces the risk of errors in ingredient and allergen information in menus, labels and supplier data, which in turn improves safety for both the business and the consumer.
Additionally, the LiberEat app, available to download on iOS or Android, assists users with dietary requirements or allergies when grocery shopping, eating out or simply looking for recipes to cook at home.
Ahead of Impact Summit 2021, DIGIT spoke to Barry Leaper to discuss the company’s journey so far and what the future has in store for LiberEat.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Barry.
My career up until now has primarily been in oil and gas and finance so it’s safe to say LiberEat is a fairly big departure from that and I’ve since become completely immersed in dietary requirements and food safety.
Founding LiberEat was an opportunity to make a positive impact and do something I really cared about, while hopefully creating an exciting business in the process.
What inspired you to create this company?
Our other co-founder, Louise Cahill, as a busy nurse really struggled with her dietary restrictions and finding suitable foods when grocery shopping and eating out and looked at a number of apps and other solutions, but nothing really helped.
Two of my family members were struggling with similar issues and we realised there was an opportunity to create something that could make a real difference to a lot of people.
How has the company developed over time?
It changed a lot. The concept has continuously evolved with the more information we have gathered.
The initial focus after founding the company was focused on getting out to speak to potential app users as well as supermarkets, restaurant brands and food producers to make sure we understood the problems we’re trying to solve.
Our technology is unique and was very challenging to develop – it’s taken years to get it where it is now.
We’re now at the exciting part where we are growing rapidly. We have been adding several thousands of new app users each month and have partnered with restaurant brands like Pret, All Bar One, Miller & Carter, Browns and Harvester.
We’ve also just announced a major partnership with the Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark and been named as one of the ten most exciting tech startups in the UK by Tech Nation.
What have been the biggest challenges the company has faced so far?
The technology was very difficult to develop and we’ve also found that launching an app and bringing on users can be very challenging. Fortunately, there is an excellent team with a wealth of experience at LiberEat, who are really behind what we are trying to achieve, and they have been able to get us to the stage we are at now.
How have you found the startup scene in Scotland?
I think the startup scene in Scotland is really exciting at the moment. There are some fantastic startups doing innovative things in everything from space-tech to life sciences to agriculture.
It’s a friendly and open environment and our experience is that start-ups in Scotland tend to be very supportive of each other. we are also lucky with the level of support available through organisations like Scottish Enterprise, who have helped us a lot.
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What advice would you give to entrepreneurs or founders embarking on the same journey?
Get out and speak to as many people as possible before you spend too much time and effort building anything!
What are your ambitions for the firm looking ahead?
Our aim is to expand internationally. Ultimately, we want to make life safer and easier for millions of people with dietary requirements and to make our technology the industry standard in helping food businesses to protect their customers from allergens.
What other tech startups do you admire and why?
There are almost too many to mention in Scotland at the moment, especially in the Tech for Good space.
It’s great to see the success Current Health have had with their recently announced Series B investment round and there are several startups in Scotland that have already been making a positive impact such as Talking Medicines, Neatebox, Cognihealth and our fellow impact summit finalists SolarisKit to name a just a few.
What do you hope to gain from the FutureX Silicon Valley programme?
The exposure to founders, companies and investors from such a different and highly dynamic environment is an invaluable learning opportunity.
We have ambitions for international expansion and I think the program would be really useful in shaping our strategy around that.
How important are initiatives such as the Silicon Valley programme for providing opportunities to entrepreneurs and startups?
I think they are hugely important, especially for first-time founders like us. The learning curve can be very steep and initiatives like this can really help set early-stage companies on the right path.
It just takes one introduction or one person to hear the right pitch at the right time to elevate a business to a completely different level, which could open up new opportunities for businesses ready to scale or get technology in front of millions of new people.
Impact Summit 2021 | Register Now!
Held on the 19th & 20th May, Impact Summit is Europe’s leading purpose-led business event.
Hosted online, the 2021 summit will feature talks from a range of speakers, including:
- Chris Gale, Head of Social Impact at eBay UK
- Christian Kroll, Founder of Ecosia
- Thandi Dyani, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Girls are Awesome
- Rebecca Baron, Head of Activism & Sociual Mission, Ben & Jerry’s Europe
Impact Summit 2021 operates a ‘pay what you can’ policy, with ticket information available at www.impact-summit.org