A North East entrepreneur has secured funding to turn the software he created to help a family member's battle with an eating disorder into the UK's first and only online diet programme not aimed at dieters. Newcastle-based Paul Dayan is now working full time on preparing PlanMyFood, an online service helping people with medical conditions like diabetes, irregular cholesterol and eating disorders monitor their diet.
PlanMyFood came about when Paul, who has worked in software for over 30 years, designed a software programme to help a family member battling an eating disorder monitor their calorific intake. Paul used his software skills to develop a small desktop programme, before realising that the software he had designed had commercial potential.
"It just occurred to me that all the existing online diet services were aimed at slimmers, I'd come up with something completely new" he said. "Nothing out there was aimed at people who need to manage their diet but aren't trying to lose weight. Not just people with medical conditions, but sports people following a specific nutrition programme or parents making sure their children are eating healthily."
PlanMyFood could eventually bring together up to 100,000 foods to show users what nutrition they are getting from the meals they eat compared to the nutrition they need, and as well as allowing then to track and set targets for things like their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.
Paul has now secured Proof of Concept funding to develop the software, with a view to the site being up and running by summer 2011. He was supported by Sunderland Software City , the regional initiative supporting the growth of the software industry in the North East, and credits their Software Ventures programme - which helps budding entrepreneurs develop their software businesses before presenting their ideas to a panel of investors - with connecting him to the sources of funding he needed to turn his idea into a business.
"Software Ventures is like a writer going to an agent rather than a publisher with their book. If a publisher gets your book through the post unsolicited the chances are they'll just ignore it no matter how good it is - but if the book comes to them from someone they know only brings them the best products, they know it's something worth looking at," he said. He was also supported by Software City's Intelligence Service which provides rapid market research to help new software businesses better understand their market, customers and competitors in as little as 48 hours.
Bernie Callaghan, Sunderland Software City's Chief Executive Officer, said: "Sunderland Software City is all about taking the best software ideas in the North East and giving the people behind them the support to turn those ideas into profit-making products. "Paul has come up with a unique and ground-breaking piece of software, not to mention one which could have a huge impact on the quality of life of a lot of people, and we're delighted to have been able to help him get his business off the ground".
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