Despite her young age, Chiara Cecchini is already Co-founder and CEO of an high rewarded innovative project, FeatApp. We have met in Milan, during the Feeding Fair at EXPO 2015 and we have immediately discovered how much our lives and the projects we are part of have in common. It has been one of those encounters that make you feel better and give you more hope for a better future. Now Chiara will tell us more about FeatApp and her story.
- You are part of a really innovative project. Can you shortly describe it?
Now FeatApp is finally alive. It is a digital app that makes something real: it transforms steps into real, healthy, tasty rewards. Every 500 steps it deposits one coin into your personal piggybank. Coins allow you to access healthy, tasty food for a discounted price. FeatApp is a dream which is coming into reality. I aim to bring physical activity, healthy food and fun in everyone’s life: a really ambitious mission which I’m approaching step by step, slowly and consistently.
- FeatApp is about movement and health – why do you think these two aspects are so strictly connected and how can FeatApp help to decline them in everyday life?
They are health. Health can be defined as the result of several elements, and the main 4 are: eating, moving, sleeping and being satisfied. Eating properly is not enough, as well as doing sport is not. I’m trying to close the circle. I’m trying to offer to fitness addicted an incentive to eat better and to foodies a push out of their sofa. Happiness and satisfaction are embedded in the experience we aim to create. (Sleep we will surely come by itself!)
- How have you decided to start the project of FeatApp? And has there been an encounter that has been particularly important for your choices?
FeatApp was just an idea and, as it often happens, valuable people around me have been helping me to translate into reality. I love sport. I used to play volleyball and it was amazing. A team that supports you, supporters not to disappoint, challenges to win. Than I had an injury and I had to find another way to do physical activity, while having fun, sharing experiences and rationalise who wins and who loses. It was hard!! At that point I started approaching wearables and fitness tracking apps, they were a way to rationalise if I got my goal, to share them with my friends and also to reward myself for the good performance. At the same time , I left home and I figured out that eating properly was not so easy as I thought! Without mom around and my well-known farmers, it has been pretty difficult.
FeatApp came out at that point: creating a fun, social and reward based experience around physical activity, linking it with an healthier, easier and more involving eating experience. I put it down for the first time in mid-2014 and it was soon selected by BCFN among 10 international ideas able to create a positive impact around food related problems. This opened me valuable opportunities and I finally decided to leave Moscow (on March 2015) and get back to Italy.
It was the time when I arrived to Food Innovation Program. There, I prototyped, tested, validated and again prototyped, tested, validated. I involved all the students, checking their steps, giving scores and providing food prices – it was amazing! First, because it was really fundamental for the project itself, but also because I got everyone on board. They are part of my dream, they support me as my sport team did and they criticise me as a good coach does.
I kept being part of the business incubator of my University – MGIMO University in Moscow – I have found the support of YouCanGroup in Bologna, and I have recently presented the project in several occasions: London Food Tech Week, Vivaio Padiglione Italia – EXPO, Feeding Fair , Corriere Innovazione, Food Immersion. I have also been elected as one of the 4 first Social Innovation Citizen in Italy. A growing path! I managed to get here thanks to all the people I have had the chance to meet along this path who fell in love with the project. They have been fundamental to me.
- You are working every day on your project, FeatApp, and you really believe in it. Where have you found the motivation? And, can you tell us the difficulties (and satisfactions) young people can meet in following their dreams?
It’s amazing. Motivation firstly comes from your inner part: I think that if you believe in what you do, you have already done half of the job! I think that in this moment of my life, in this market scenario and with these people around, FeatApp is the best thing I can do!
And here comes the second fundamental half: people.
Without my partners I’d never gone further: there are some hard moments when we really need to feel to be part of something bigger. FeatApp is not mine, it’s ours. And it would not be as good as it is today if I would have been alone. At the same time many people around me are giving me so much energy: every nice email, every ask for an interview, every text from an old friend who has heard about it and wants to congratulate and ask about the project, it is a boost of adrenalin. It’s fundamental to keep on going!
And about difficulties, I think being quite young and at my first entrepreneurial project is the main one. I’m dynamic, passionate, willing to listen, discuss and improve, always, but I’ve not so much experience. This is a limit in making decisions. My role is to make them, but sometimes I feel like I do not know enough. But it is all part of the process, I’m unbiased and always willing to improve – time after time I will have more experience and I will know better how to deal with decisions!
Young people have to follow their dreams, there is no better moment than now! 🙂
- FeatApp is perfect to be used in everyday life. But what about holidays? Do you think an healthy lifestyle can be maintained also on holiday? If you would have to choose between one of the inspirations we propose our travellers, which inspiration would you follow?
I think an healthy lifestyle is about feeling well-balanced and feeling good. This is what we try to pursue everyday and on holiday we do the same: we listen to our body and we need to stop when it is not feeling well anymore. While traveling there are some more variables to take into account which make everything slightly harder, but it’s part of the game! You have more fun and you sleep less. You walk more and you eat more. You try new foods and you are more satisfied. This is travelling for me, and this is also the reason why my inspiration would be innovation. Travelling is discovering, pushing ourselves completely out of our comfort zone and proving to myself that I can. Travelling is a strong experience where I want to be impacted by something huge, and in this overwhelming environment I want to make an impact as well, always a positive one!
If travelling is for you, as for Chiara Cecchini, a strong experience, something that bring you out of your comfort zone to discover new horizons, you may like to visit Filippo and the Tribewanted Community in Monestevole and feel part of a true rural and innovative project in the green heart of Italy.
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