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17. Nima

Founders: Shireen Yates (CEO), Scott Sundvor (chief product officer)
Launched: 2013
Headquarters: San Francisco
Funding: $14.2 million

Shireen Yates, co-founder and CEO of Nima
Source: Nima
Shireen Yates, co-founder and CEO of Nima

Nima is a San Francisco-based company that has devised a small portable device that can tell people if there is gluten in their food. The creators of the sensor — Shireen Yates and Scott Sundvor — met at MIT in 2013 and discovered that they both suffered from food allergies and sensitivities, conditions that make eating out more anxiety-provoking than enjoyable. They knew plenty of other folks shared the same conditions and decided to create a sensor that could be used by individuals to test food for the presence of gluten.

Here's how it works: Users place a tiny bit of food in the disposable capsule, insert it into the Nima device, and hit the power button. In about three minutes the palm-size device displays the results — a wheat symbol if there's gluten in the food or a smile emoticon if the food is safe to eat.

The device costs $279 and comes with three of the disposable capsules, a charger and carrying pouch. A dozen additional capsules costs $72.95, but the price drops to as low as $59.95 if customers sign up for a monthly subscription. Users can also download an app that identifies restaurants in their area that are popular with gluten-free diners.

The company began shipping the device last fall and is currently working on a sensor for dairy and nuts. Even with the hefty price tag, investors are bullish on the company. Nima raised $9.2 million of its roughly $14 million in funding in May from Foundry Group, Lemnos Labs, SoftTech, Upfront Ventures and Nest co-founder Matt Rogers.

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