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Article originally published May 19, 2016
How do you know when to put all of your weight behind a successful product?
In 2013, MIT alums Shireen Yates and Scott Sundvor launched a company called 6SensorLabs with the goal of making going out to eat easier and safer for their fellow food allergy sufferers. Three years later, the startup just raised $9.2 million in a Series A financing round and announced that it is changing its name from 6SensorLabs to Nima, the name of its first product. Nima is a portable sensor that tests whether food contains gluten within minutes.
“We feel like Nima is much more known to our consumers and for our potential customers. It’s more of our outward facing name,” Yates, the company’s co-founder and CEO, told Entrepreneur. “We wanted to streamline our efforts and really strengthen the brand by merging the two, our corporate identity with our first product. Nima means fair and equitable [in Persian]. It really stands for everything that we’re doing in regards to food transparency, giving everyone a chance of enjoying their meal and having that peace of mind.”
Now available for purchase on the company’s website, Nima starter kits, which include the sensor, three one-time-use test capsules, a charging cable and carrying case, are priced at $279. Yates and her team are also currently developing tests for peanuts, tree nuts and milk. Nima also makes an accompanying iOS app that shares results with other users, searches for gluten-friendly restaurants and provides scores of restaurants based on reviews from diners.
To date the company has raised $14 million from investors such as SK Ventures, Lemnos Labs and Nest founder Matt Rogers.
Yates says that while technology can be compelling, it can only take a company so far. “I recently went back to our original pitch deck. In order to develop something that’s new to the world, that’s a brand new product category, it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of rigor. You have to make sure you’re making the right product for the consumer. [With technology], you have to really understand if it’s what people want.”
Nima is one of many companies that have changed names to better align with customer name recognition. Canada’s Research in Motion rebranded as BlackBerry in 2013 to reflect its well-known mobile devices, while Apple Computer simply became Apple in 2007. And back in 1958, Japanese electronics manufacturer Totsuko changed its named to Sony after the success of its first product, a megaphone.