Brian Witlin

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Brian Witlin
Chicago, Illinois, United States
ResidenceMountain View, California
Alma materLehigh University B.S. In Business and Economics
Stanford University Masters in Mechanical Engineering and Design
OccupationChief Executive Officer at Yummly

Brian Witlin is an American businessman, designer, fine artist, and professor. He is a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded a number of tech companies including Leverworks, Shopwell, Golaces and has led Yummly as its CEO both before and after being acquired by Whirlpool in 2017.[1][2] Witlin participates as a lecturer at Stanford University's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.[3]

Early life[edit]

Brian Witlin was raised near Chicago, Illinois. He attended Glenbrook North High School. Witlin graduated from Lehigh University with a bachelor's degree in business and economics. He served two terms as class of 2001 President[4] and founded his first software company in his dorm room. Brian later completed his master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and Design at the Stanford University School of Engineering.[5][6] For his Master's thesis, Witlin Co-Founded RootPhi, a new product development incubator with partner Doug Patt.


Witlin's career began while a senior at Lehigh University. He co-founded a custom software development company called Lever Works with Keith Schacht and Zach Kaplan. In December 2001 Lever Works was sold to Leo Media for an undisclosed sum.[7]


While completing his master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and Design at the Stanford University School of Engineering, Witlin Co-Founded RootPhi,[8] a new product development incubator with partner Doug Patt. The company's success and approach to portfolio innovation garnered media attention for Witlin. On September 4, 2007, while in partnership with Timbuk2 making limited edition messenger bags out of RootPhi's Reclaim Brand recycled fabric, Timbuk2 and RootPhi received a Cease and Desist letter from TARGET for using the bullseye logo within the Reclaim fabric. This fabric was utilized in a line of limited edition messenger bags manufactured by Timbuk2 (Lamitron Bags).[9] This move by TARGET halted production of the recycled bags angering many and sparking controversy around copyright law and recycled and repurposed materials.[10] Although the collaboration with Timbuk2 ended prematurely, RootPhi was able to successfully sell another of their incubated companies, GoLaces, LLC, a footwear accessory business to a publicly traded footwear company for an undisclosed amount in February 2008.

IDEO and Shopwell[edit]

After the sale of Golaces, Brian, in conversation with founder David M. Kelley, joined global design firm IDEO as Entrepreneur In Residence in June 2008. He co-founded a personalized nutrition app, Shopwell that provides healthy food recommendations for users, based on their unique dietary needs.[11] The company raised venture funding from New Venture Partners and IDEO. He led a team of engineering and registered dietitians to create the first personalized nutrition scoring algorithm leveraging machine learning and dietetics.[12][13] Shopwell was acquired by HarvestMark in 2013, which was again acquired by Innit in 2016.[14][15]


In 2009, Witlin was appointed as a head of mobile & platform of the personalized recipe recommendations and search platform, Yummly by their board of directors. He handled day to day operations and opened its API to other companies as a paid service. By 2014, it has 15 million active users in the US and was named "Best of 2014" in Apple's App Store.[16] He became the chief executive officer of the company in October 2016. Under his leadership, Yummly grew from 1M to 27M registered users, before acquired by the appliance manufacturer Whirlpool in 2017 for an undisclosed amount.[17][18]

Public speaking[edit]

Witlin speaks frequently at conferences and industry events on the topics of artificial intelligence, marketing automation and user growth, such as SXSW, Growth Beat, VentureBeat Webinars, Smart Kitchen Summit and Health 2.0 conferences.[19] He has also participated in the design forums and has given lectures at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.


Witlin holds 8 patents that are registered in his name.[20] He is the current advisor of startups, including Directly, Zeel and Upside, and has also served as an advisor 500 Startups, StartX, and the Designer Fund earlier.[21] He is also the founder of Diamond MMA, a premium martial arts protective equipment manufacturer[22] and an Apple watch band company, Apart from business, Witlin is also a trained fine art artist and photographer. He is also a lecturer at the Stanford University’s at Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, where he runs executive education programs and coaches students about entrepreneurship.[23]


  1. ^ "Whirlpool acquires Yummly, the recipe search engine last valued at $100M – TechCrunch". Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  2. ^ "Yummly". 2012.
  3. ^ Doorley, Scott; Witthoft, Scott; University, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (2011-12-30). Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118172513.
  4. ^ "Lehigh University 2000s Class Officers". 2001. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011.
  5. ^ Business Week (2006). "Translating Innovation Into Market Success". Archived from the original on 28 January 2007.
  6. ^ Business Week (2006). "The Talent Hunt - Desperate to innovate, companies are turning to design schools for nimble, creative thinkers". Archived from the original on 18 April 2011.
  7. ^ Lueken, Abbie (6 June 2005). "Student Entrepreneurs Make Dreams a Reality". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011.
  8. ^ "RootPhi". 2006. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011.
  9. ^ "Cease and Desist Letter From Target Stores". September 4, 2007.
  10. ^ "Timbuk2 and Target". October 23, 2007.
  11. ^ "Stanford sails to StartX · Articles · Global University Venturing". Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  12. ^ "ShopWell gives food buyers new tools for healthy eating". CNET. 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  13. ^ "Xconomy: Ideo Spinoff ShopWell Says Better Health Starts at the Supermarket; Part 2: Ingredients of a Startup". Xconomy. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  14. ^ "YottaMark Acquires ShopWell Nutrition App". Supermarket News. 2013-05-29. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  15. ^ "Startup Innit Acquires Food Resource App Maker ShopWell". eWEEK. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  16. ^ "Apple Says These Are the Best Apps of 2014". Time. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  17. ^ "Whirlpool launches Yummly 2.0 app for your digital kitchen". VentureBeat. 2018-01-08. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  18. ^ "Can't Think Of What To Eat? Point Your Phone At The Fridge And This App Will Tell You". HuffPost UK. 2018-01-12. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  19. ^ "Brian Witlin". SKS 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  20. ^ "Brian Benjamin Witlin Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search". Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  21. ^ "Yummly Announces Appointment of Brian Witlin as Head of Mobile and Platform". Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  22. ^ MMA, Diamond. "The Diamond MMA Founding Team". Diamond MMA. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  23. ^ "Who will be the next millionaire? | Meine erste Million | Juni 2007 | NZZ Folio". (in German). Retrieved 2018-04-26.