A step-by-step guide into how we built a $ 1M calorie counting & diet mobile app in less than four weeks.

12 mins read

Aical helps users keep track of their daily nutrients intake and adjust their diet. With aical, you don’t have to fill unfriendly forms and search for your food to monitor your nutrients intake. The artificial intelligence algorithms within the calorie counting app, estimate your intake of calories, fat, carbs, proteins, and fibre from just seeing a photograph of your meal. All you have to do is snap a picture of your food, scan a barcode from a product you are consuming, or tell Siri what you ate. Simple as that.

We started building aical with the aim of creating a calorie counting & diet application algorithm that would deliver nutrition reports, better and faster. We went MVP-first, with the goal to develop a mobile application that would provide the best experience for the users while collecting the user feedback from the market to validate our idea. We invested over $50K in building the first version of the mobile app. Within three weeks, we had already had buying offers ranging $230K. Here’s a look into how we did it:

Help people create a healthy lifestyle while keeping track of their diet.

The challenge.

Aical was envisioned as simple to use, and human-centric mobile application that keeps track of your calories throughout the day. Since we were building a subscription-based business model, we knew we had to make it as simple as possible to use, so as to perfectly blend into the lives of our users. Hence, we took a daily activity like taking pictures and snapshots with your mobile phone and taught of making it the core of the application. As a user, you could take a picture of your meal and the algorithm would interpret the portion size, ingredients and nutrients for you. Easy, huh? Yes, but then we took pictured out our soups and realised how much of a challenge it is to be able to extract exact information on the ingredients in a soup bowl. Another problem we identified was that besides the main meals, users frequently enjoy a small snack during their day.

The solution.

At this point, we knew we had to come with a few other solutions for logging food into the calorie counting mobile app. Thinking of the many life scenarios users could be in while enjoying their meal, we came up with more ways of keeping track of calories and nutrients: scanning the bar code on a product, manually logging your food, and telling Siri what you ate.

Building aical, the AI-powered calorie counting & nutrition iOS app.

Mobile App Business and Product Strategy. We started with the business-critical side of the calorie counting & diet mobile application. Although the problem we aimed to solve was pretty clear from the very beginning, we wanted to be sure that before getting into building the app, we have a clear vision of the buyer personas, as well as real-life scenarios of users interacting with the mobile app.

Moving on to the functionality side of the application, we went through a feature prioritisation phase, in which we created a roadmap of all the features the minimum viable version of the digital product would contain.

We brought the platform we were going to make the first release on into discussion and looking at a few stats, numbers and the users we are going to target, we decided to go iOS first.

UX Design & Mobile Prototyping. Having the users personas of the mobile applications defined, provided a robust framework for creating the user flows and engineer pathways for users to interact with the application. We started with paper and pen, sketching all the app scenarios we could think of, on paper.

UI Design. Following the same principle of simplicity, we aimed to offer aical a clean look. We used white and black, with pink as an accent colour.

Mobile App Development & Testing. The development of the aical mobile app lasted for about one month. Following an Agile approach and building in a Lean manner, development was done in one-week sprints. The architecture of the mobile app paid a great deal at this stage. We had a cross-functional team of designers, developers and testers continuously collaborate and iterate on the app functionalities.

Launching aical. Before getting the mobile into the App Store, we made sure to have the right analytics tools in place, craft an eye-catching description and make sure we have a bug-free mobile application, ready to interact with the users. We launched a few advertisement campaigns, and the first month of having aical on the App Store brought us, 9000 users, out of which 150 were premium subscribers.


Taking a quick look at a few numbers, you see that 40% of new startups and digital product fail within their first month of activity. The same numbers tell use that few startups reach market validation in their first days of activity. Building aical showed us how if you are looking to reach a high ROI with your app, going MVP first and testing the idea with the core functionalities of a mobile application can save you loads of money. It gave us a better understanding of how to get the most out of the data your app collects and to make sure that the money we invest in building aical is solving real deal problems for our users.

Looking to build your next mobile app? We hope that this story of how we build a $ 1m calories counting mobile application inspires you to bring your idea to life and launch a new product on the market.


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