Masayoshi Nemoto, Representative Director of ESCARE, Inc.
Most conventional health services have been geared toward “health-conscious” people. However, the reality is that the majority of people are not really health conscious. We interviewed Mr. Masayoshi Nemoto, the Representative Director of ESCARE, Inc., who launched a FoodTech business that can reach even non-health conscious people after his father’s kidney disease and his own leukemia.
―What kind of business does ESCARE, Inc. do?
We develop and provide systems and services that can resolve dietary issues. Up until now, health services have inevitably been geared toward people who are highly interested in their health. Some cooking apps, for example, require users to take pictures, so the users cannot continue unless they are quite health conscious. Instead of leaving less health-conscious people behind, we are trying to create a society where everyone can be healthy.
―How can you approach those who are less health-conscious?
There are two approaches. One is an approach to a group of people. For example, a company can change the menu of its cafeteria without being noticed by the employees. In other words, the company can change the dietary environment of its employees so that all of them become healthier without conscious effort. A variety of companies around the world are now adopting this approach.
The other is an approach is to target individuals. The aim of this approach is to change the behavior of less health-conscious people by promoting their interest in things other than health. We are developing our business with these two approaches in mind.
―Specifically, what services do you provide?
One is our WELL-being JOURNEY, a fully automated nutritional management service. It automatically converts users’ purchase records at supermarkets and other food stores into nutritional information and informs them of missing nutrients and recommended foods, recipes, etc.
―How is the service used?
Currently, the service is available on the shopping app provided by U.S. M. Holdings, which operates Maruetsu, Kasumi, MaxValu, and others. When a user shops at these stores, the service automatically integrates the user’s purchase records and graphically visualizes the nutritional balance on the app.
It recommends necessary nutrients and appropriate products by saying, for example, “This is the food you need because you lack minerals.” There is no need for active personal management, such as taking pictures of what you buy. In the future, we plan to visualize CO2 emissions and other data.
―Since the service does not require users’ active action, it seems like it will be able to reach even less health-conscious people. What other businesses do you have in the works?
We have a system called ”Tsuginavi” that helps users navigate cooking steps. This service parses and organizes information such as procedures, instructions, and manuals.
For example, when you order a meal kit, recipes and instructions are provided on paper. However, it takes time to cook while reading what is written on paper. Even if they are provided on video, the screen of your smartphone may get dirty when you operate it while cooking. This service can help solve these problems.
―What exactly does it mean to navigate through the cooking process?
It is based on the same principle as a car navigation system, with step-by-step video and voice instructions read out loud. If you want to hear the next step, just say “Next.” If you want to hear a step again, just say “Repeat.” All necessary operations can be done only by voice commands, so you can finish cooking in no time.
―This service is very convenient for those who cook, but is it aimed at the health-conscious?
It is true that cooking for yourself is very important for your health. However, the service also has features that can reach even non-health-conscious people. Various characters (navigators) will teach you how to cook, so the service enables even those who are not interested in cooking to enjoy cooking, using the characters as hooks.
Do you know any mothers or fathers who would want to cook with their children if, for example, they had an Anpanman kit to make Anpanman bread with Uncle Jam? Using this kind of entertainment, we are trying to encourage behavioral changes in non-health-conscious people.
―By the way, do you also run any business that can specifically reach health-conscious people?
For those who are somewhat conscious about their health, we also conduct a nutritional survey as part of our nutrition services. We use validated analytical tools for dietary researchers to identify individuals’ and groups’ dietary trends and issues. For example, by analyzing on a company-by-company basis, we can analyze the nutritional status of that population. Based on this analysis, the company cafeteria menu can be changed to improve the health of the population at once.
―You run a health service business that can resolve dietary issues. Why did you decide to start such a business?
There are two reasons. One is that my father got a kidney disease and had started dialysis. Even still he is still having a hard time with the procedure. In addition to my father, there are about 13.3 million kidney patients in Japan who are considered to be potential dialysis patients.
The most important thing for these people is to reduce salt, but this is so difficult that they often cannot keep that up consistently. Although my father became health conscious due to his illness, he still has a hard time reducing salt. From this experience, I realized that it was necessary not only to emphasize the importance of health, but also to provide systems and services that can manage people’s health even while they are not conscious about it.
―What is the other reason?
Actually, I myself was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017. I had had a bone marrow transplant and gotten prosthetic joints because my hip joints had become necrotic due to the treatment. I founded my company with the intention of supporting my father, but after experiencing such a difficult disease myself, I also am keenly aware of the importance of staying healthy. Therefore, I want to continue running businesses that help everyone stay healthy, including not only those who are conscious about health but also those who are not.
|Company name：ESCARE, Inc.
|Number of employees：3名
|Main businesses：FoodTech business, EdTech business, and content business
This article is part of a series of articles introducing venture companies working together as ICF members to resolve societal issues.