Carbs & Cals
Carbs & Cals

Helping half a million people manage their diabetes


Key Results

  • Rebuilt app and web platform from the ground up
  • 900% revenue increase over two years
  • Helps over 68,000 monthly active users
  • Over 30,000 active subscribers

From Niche Books to Digital Platforms: The Evolution of Carbs & Cals

Fifteen years ago, Carbs & Cals started with a goal to help people with diabetes manage their diets through books. These books offered key nutritional details and introduced an easier way to understand portion sizes using photos instead of scales.

These resources quickly became popular in the diabetes community and among NHS professionals, leading Carbs & Cals to develop a mobile app in 2012. This app made the helpful information from the books available in a more convenient format, quickly gaining a strong following.

Overcoming Digital Challenges

By 2014, although their apps were initially successful, Carbs & Cals faced difficulties when trying to improve them. Issues with app developers, including bankruptcies and incomplete projects, stalled their progress, wasting significant investments and causing a decline in user satisfaction and app rankings.

A Strategic Shift

Everything changed in 2017 when a team member from Pocketworks, who was diagnosed with diabetes, saw the potential in the app despite its outdated state. In 2018, Pocketworks reached out to Carbs & Cals, suggesting a partnership to update the app and introduce a subscription model to support ongoing improvements. This led to a new 10-year plan for the app's development.

Carbs & Cals

User-Focused Development

From 2020 to 2022, the team worked to completely revamp the app. They improved the design, introduced a new payment system, and updated the content. They used analytics to see how people used the app and conducted surveys to understand user preferences. This constant feedback from users helped shape the app’s features and pricing.

Technological Improvements and Market Impact

Choosing cross-platform technology like Flutter allowed the team to develop more efficiently and update the app for both Android and iOS at the same time. The app also got a custom CMS to manage a vast database of over 150,000 food items.

Behind the scenes, the apps have a custom CMS for managing over 150,000 food data items.

Impressive Results

The new app was launched in July 2022. After ironing out initial issues, it saw rapid growth to over 30,000 active subscribers and 70,000 monthly active users. This led to a nine-fold increase in revenue, funding further research and development, and confirming the success of Carbs & Cals' strategic pivot.

Take a look behind the scenes

There's a fair bit that goes into developing and growing a consumer app. In case you're interested, here's the end-to-end process we follow for Carbs & Cals.

Annual Mobile Strategy Workshop

Every app needs an aspirational goal and a strategy to get there. We spend a few days reviewing this each year as a team.

Quarterly Roadmap Management

There's always so much to do, so we pick items that fit our strategy and try to blend bug fixres, quick wins with bigger features.

User Interviews & Surveys

The team run continous user research around the roadmap. This helps us design for the people that will use the app.

App UI/UX Design

The voice of customer informs how we design our features. We do fairly light design leading into development, and tweak and tidy up as we go.

Flutter App Development

Carbs & Cals is a Flutter app. This prevents us having to duplicate work on two platgorms, allowing us to get features out to customers faster.

Product Analytics

We're in the "measure what you need" camp and the apps have well thought out analytics that help us understand enough to make good roadmap decisions. We pay attention to paywall conversion rates, 7-day retention, 30-day retention, subscription churn and feature usage.

Cloud Web Portal and API Development

Carbs & Cals is backed by a custom CMS that helps the team manage the data.

App Store Optimisation & Experiments

Our app store presence performs well, and we're always running an experiment with screen shots or text to try and improve that.

A/B Testing and Conversion Optimisation

Alongside feature development, we're always running growth experiments to improve our conversion rates. This also includes experiments to help users have more success in the jobs they're trying to get done in the app.

Retention & WinBack Push Campaigns

The app changes over time, so we like to try and encourage people to try it again.

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