Healthier Eating? There’s An App For That
6 AM Health aims to make healthy eating easy. A team is developing an app for the company to make accessing nutritious food more convenient than ever.
Brad Callow wants to make healthy eating more convenient. To do that, he’s working with a team from the DALI Lab, an initiative of the Magnuson Center for Entreprenreuship, to develop an app that makes ordering nutritious food simple and efficient.
Callow, who graduated from Tuck in 2013, worked in the healthcare space before launching 6AM Health in 2017. Callow made healthy meals and snacks at home and delivered them to client’s doorsteps before 6 a.m. (hence, the company name). The company was Callow's side project for a year, until he was confident going all-in with the idea.
“I wanted to test it out, and I found that I really enjoy this and people were super interested,” Callow said. “The market is right in the Boston area. People want to eat healthy and there is a willingness to pay for that. Plus, it’s something I'm passionate about.”
In order to grow the company, Callow needed a way to deliver more product that was less burdensome than individual home deliveries. He began using fresh vending machines and later moved on to refrigerators that operate on the same premise. Today, the company has “Fresh Fridges” at businesses and transit hubs throughout the Greater Boston area.
Still, Callow wanted to automate the process even more. Food retailers from coffee shops to fast-food giants are increasingly turning to apps to streamline the ordering process, and Callow felt that would be important for 6 AM Health. When Dartmouth externs working with 6 AM Health told him about the DALI Lab, he was intrigued by the lab's reputation for innovative solutions and quality work.
“I thought DALI is the partner we could work with to develop that for our company,” Callow said.
6 AM Health was accepted as a DALI Lab partner in January 2019 and has been working with a team to develop the app since then. The app will allow users to reserve food from the 6 AM vending fridge and even order their favorites meals ahead of time. Knowing exactly what customers want will allow 6 AM Health the minimize waste and improve service to customers. “Their food is right there waiting for them,” Callow said.
To develop the app, Callow has been working closely with a team from the DALI Lab, including Thomas Monfre, ’21, the lead software engineer on the project.
“I’ve learned quite a bit about mobile app development through the 6AM Health project,” Monfre said. “I’ve had to think hard about the structure of the entire system, and how to effectively build a product for scale. It has taught me to research and think hard about particular tech stacks before implementation.”
That dedication has impressed Callow. “Thomas is one of the smartest kids I’ve ever met,” he said.
Monfre worked on the project for two terms before taking a term off campus. He was happy to see that his code and documentation allowed another developer to step into the project seamlessly.
Over the last year, the team working on the 6AM Health project has faced some challenges. Issues with one tech provider, for example, lead to delays on the project. Callow said that those unexpected challenges, while frustrating, provide great experience for students working in the DALI Lab.
“For students to see the pain points is as important, if not more important, than seeing the wins,” Callow said. “There's only so much you can learn about entrepreneurship in a classroom. You need to get out there and encounter those pain points to experience how hard it really is.”
For Monfre, working in the lab has been an extremely valuable supplement to coursework.
“It has taught me more about software engineering and teamwork than most classes at Dartmouth,” he said. “The DALI lab has provided me with great learning opportunities that I now seek to provide to others in the remaining terms of my Dartmouth experience.”
For Callow, working with the DALI Lab has allowed him develop the digital solutions that his company needs to flourish.
“The level of talent there is pretty remarkable,” he said. “We’ve genuinely had an amazing time working with them.”
The motivation and energy that students bring to the table has been inspiring, Callow said.
“The whole community comes together and says ‘How can we help?’ not ‘What do we have to do?’ These students are taking the initiative to do this, so there’s a self-selection of talent. So, you already know they’re going to do quality work.”