Interview with Iris Allen, creator of app No Targets Just Routine

Iris Allen created her app, No Targets Just Routine after years of figuring out what her family should eat led her to research food. What she found out changed her life – and inspired her to create a business that might change yours.

What’s your career background?

I spent many years as a carer, combining it with childcare, so my career began once my kids left home for university.

I became interested in researching food and began analysing studies from the scientific community, university papers and special reports from think tanks and charities around the world.

The more facts I discovered about ‘healthy’ processed food the more sceptical I became about packaging and advertising. I learned that all calories are not equal and came to appreciate the importance of the consumption of real food as part of a daily routine.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Having come to understand the complexity of food and its health issues I wanted to create a simple way to convey this to a bigger audience to offer practical tips and an easy way for people to see and understand how to eat food that helps protect your health rather than risk damaging it.

How did you move from idea to actual app?

The idea required a new way of looking at food, developing a formula to point foods on the basis of the quality of their nutrition and designing the graphics to make the information clear and easily understood.

The biggest challenge was enticing a team of IT specialists to build the application programming interfaces (APIs) within a secure and robust operating environment. Operating on a very tight budget, this required detailed planning and drive to win the commitment of my preferred developer and his team. This included precise guidelines around essential functionality for the building of the APIs.

The app had to be a food guide as well as a meal planner and tracker, so recording and visualising key components in regular food consumption would be essential to enable:

  • Tracking how food intake stacks up on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
  • Viewing variety of diet.
  • Management of balance and moderation across core food groups.
  • Seeing what proportion of nutrition is real food.
  • Monitor what proportion is processed foods.

This was not to be a calorie controlled diet. It was to be a ‘friend’, helping develop a better understanding of food to contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

The build was divided into a number of phases, with a rolling trial and feedback process to include further design enhancements as we progressed. The initial development phase focused on building the database and creating the food diary and planner. The second major phase was all about the addition of recipes, favourite meals and the ability to save and share, including images of what we cook and create.

By March 2017, a year after we started the build, we were ready for submission to the Apple store. Now V2 enhancements are under development.

What’s your USP?

Enabling people to judge food on wider health benefits rather than just on the energy it provides. You can find out more here.

Who’s your target audience?

People interested in food for better health, something which I believe will be of special interest for talented ladies.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Through my website, No Targets Just Routine, which reports on research into food, exercise and sleep, as well as via my real food app – Just Routine.

What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?

Facebook. My app downloads have grown from 200 to over 4,000 in the last two months across the UK, Canada and Australia, adding more app users daily.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Creating and managing our unique real food database.

And your proudest moment so far?

In March when Just Routine was accepted in the Apple store.

Why is work so important to you?

Having discovered how wonderful real food is, and how easy it is to enhance our health and those of our loved ones with real food, I want to spread the word.

Who inspires you?

Women who think outside the box and then act on it.

How do you balance your business with your family?

I get them all involved in the business – after supporting them, they now support me.

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

  1. Do it – as long you are genuinely committed to the project.
  2. Be humble – engage with others, don’t be afraid to ask for help, but listen carefully, especially for words of experience, not just words of encouragement.
  3. Be objective – own your mistakes and rectify them quickly.

 You can find out more about No Targets Just Routine on their website