Gluten-Free World at Your Fingertips

App enables gluten-free eaters all over the world to share their favorite spots
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Whether in your hometown or traveling abroad, the Gluten-Free World app aims to help you find pubs, restaurants, bakeries, cafes and even stores so you can relax and enjoy yourself instead of wasting time researching. The app provides not only the name but also hours and directions to each spot.

In the beginning, there was beer…

PinPub@3xIt all started when two blokes in London—one of whom with gluten intolerance—found themselves struggling to find a place to kick back with a gluten-free beer after work. Finding the process of researching pubs and bars highly inefficient, they developed the app London Gluten Free, which listed pubs in London where they had found gluten-free beers. As the app gained traction and positive feedback from users, the blokes thought, “Why limit this to London? Why limit it to beers?” Those two simple questions led them to develop and launch Gluten-Free World in August 2015.

Now covering more than 200 cities in 55 countries, the app grows daily as its expanding user base (currently more than 1,000 people worldwide) shares their favorite places for a good beer, meal with friends or quick cup of coffee—and all gluten free. Based on a crowd-sourcing model, anyone can add a gluten-free spot to the map.

Ever-expanding Gluten-Free World

In addition to its users, Gluten-Free World has a team of researchers working to fill the map in areas where the app does not yet have any entries. And anyone can directly contact them about adding coverage for an area. For example, a user whose hometown does not yet have any entries or even someone with upcoming travel plans to an uncovered locale can email the team, who can then research the area and add appropriate places to the map.

gluten_free_world_logo_darkblueThe tremendously interactive relationship between the Gluten-Free World team and the app’s community of users works both ways, too. Followers of the Gluten-Free World Instagram account
are asked for their opinions on proposed new features before any resources are dedicated to development. The team also asks for and welcomes feedback about user experience, including bugs, and missing features that would make the app more helpful.

This collaborative effort led to the app’s September 2016 update, which improved search by allowing users to find a destination by business name, city or keyword. Future updates will add reviews and ratings as well as indicators to distinguish between celiac-friendly establishments and those that simply offer gluten-free items—a direct result of feedback from users with celiac disease who raised concerns about cross-contamination.

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Young entrepreneur develops a phone app for gluten-free cooking

iStock_000019777742SmallAlex Hutchinson, a 21-year-old college senior, has a prizewinning idea for a smartphone app that transforms most regular recipes into gluten-free dishes.

His “Gluten Free Converter” app grabbed the judges’ attention at the Elevator Pitch Competition at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Conference in Chicago last month. Aspiring college innovators each have 90 seconds – the approximate length of an elevator ride – to pitch their business proposal.

Though the app is still in design stages, once completed it will automatically substitute ingredients and adjust cooking procedures to make gluten-free cooking much easier.

Hutchinson received an honorable mention for his idea, beating out more than 100 other young entrepreneurs and earning a $500 cash prize to patent Gluten Free Converter.

He says the app will alleviate “doubt and insecurity” for those cooking gluten free. It’s the perfect tool for those who have been recently diagnosed, family members who need to change their cooking habits and anyone following the diet, according to Hutchinson. He notes that home cooking is the best way to guarantee a contamination-free environment.

“Many recently diagnosed with celiac disease [think] that this lifestyle change means the elimination of many foods that they enjoy,” Hutchinson says. “However this app will let them keep all the meals in their diet, just converted into a safe, gluten-free alternative.”

Alex Hutchinson
Gluten-free entrepreneur Alex Hutchinson

As more young people turn to technology in the kitchen, smartphone cooking is a rising trend among gluten-free diners of all ages.

“The great thing about the app is its universal appeal,” Hutchinson says. “It is for anyone who wants to start cooking gluten free for any reason. However, the popularity of smart phones with younger people makes them more adventurous in trying new things with apps. So I believe the exposure to this demographic will be especially appealing.”

A marketing major at Southern Illinois University, Hutchinson knows the challenge of gluten-free cooking first hand. He was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 4 along with his father and brother. He’s no stranger to entrepreneurship either. Four years ago he founded a landscape construction company and plans to use the profits to attend law school.

The judges praised the idea and emphasized the importance of this emerging industry. They also suggested that Hutchinson market toward gluten-free companies for sponsors and advertising.

Since placing in the competition Hutchinson has contacted several app software developers and marketing agents to make the smartphone app a reality. He hopes to offer the product across all digital platforms in the mainstream market.

“I plan to revolutionize the gluten-free dining experience for anyone looking to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle, entertain for others or simply try [living] gluten free,” he says. “I hope to change the perspective that gluten-free cooking is a difficult routine for a niche market, but rather a new trend of eating that can appeal to anyone.”