One Decision: Creating a Pregnancy Test for Food
This is part of a series of blog posts on decisions we’ve made in the course of business, to provide some insight into our company and product development process. Posts are not chronological. This post examines how we approached creating a much faster and simpler allergen test, from our co-founder and CEO, Shireen Yates.
I’m leading a team building a device that has never existed – un-chartered territory. Think Pluto Mission, but instead of a spacecraft, it’s a tiny portable device that fits in your pocket, and instead of Pluto, we are seeking proteins in foods to start. If you’re on-board with food transparency instead of space transparency, read on.
The team at Nima is developing portable devices that enable millions of people to test their food and to maximize their chances of staying healthy and happy. And, we are starting with that sneaky gluten protein as our first target, moving to peanuts, dairy and other allergens soon after.
A lot of people ask about our technology and chemistry. How does it work? What is it? The easiest way to describe our technology is a pregnancy test for food. What do pregnancy tests have to do with food? Let’s look back just 40 years ago to the nature of pregnancy tests to see why.
In 1970, women could get a physician-administered pregnancy test four days after potential conception. In 10 steps to prepare the test and two hours later, you would have your result.
In 1975, the Error Proof Test was developed. Beyond the reliable testing methodology, three additional words revolutionized this test: at-home testing. Women could now easily administer a pregnancy test in the comfort and privacy of their home – no laboratory needed. The first EPT tests took two hours at home. They now take minutes and with much more accurate results.
So what does this have to do with food? When looking at the current landscape for food testing, the issues keeping these tests from being widely used by consumers are similar to those of the early pregnancy test. There are pipettes involved, two solutions and vials – essentially an entire chemistry set – to test food. Sample prep is cumbersome and then still takes 10 to 15 minutes for a result. It just doesn’t seem like a test you can take on-the-go and bust out at the dinner table.
If we apply similar technology of an EPT to testing for gluten proteins in a food sample, we can reduce the time and hassle of allergen tests on the market today. Nima is a totally new approach that you can use anytime, anywhere. At Nima, we are focused on creating a solution that works at the dinner table. We want you to be able to know what’s in your food and get the results quickly enough that your food doesn’t get cold. We want you to regain social freedom and enjoy the dining experience again.
Our team has worked tirelessly to create this new approach to food testing. We can’t wait to navigate the unchartered dinner plate with our device and allow you to eat the foods that make you feel great.
–Shireen Yates, co-founder and CEO, Nima