Legal Name: Spira, Inc
Location: Los Angeles, CA
INDUSTRY – Food Tech
Projections: $250B by 2022 (Source: Research and Markets)
Spira is a food technology company creating plant-based ingredients from spirulina microalgae. The startup aims to develop easily growable food ingredients using algae that can solve the global malnutrition problem and provide an alternative to the use of unhealthy practices in the food industry.
Spira develops plant-based ingredients using spirulina microalgae through a process that requires fewer resources than conventional food growing and synthesis processes. Using this process, it creates ingredients that are intended for applications ranging from food colors to protein ingredients.
The startup envisions enabling access to basic nutrition anywhere, effortlessly. It uses filamentous cyanobacteria as a basis for creating better-tasting, more nutritious, and cost-effective staple food source that is accessible to all.
Spira claims that its technology is capable of reducing carbon emissions, providing access to a healthy protein source, and providing employment and food security to communities affected by or at risk of malnutrition.
Spira’s flagship product and the first to be commercially available is Electric Sky™, a rare, healthy blue pigment that is the first natural alternative to Artificial Blue #1, a coloring pigment widely used for food processing, packaging, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, etc. The natural pigment is found only in spirulina microalgae and comes with various health benefits such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects.
Origin and Founding Team
The team at Spira comprises Co-founder and CEO, Elliot Roth, Co-founder and COO, Peter Lee, and Co-founder and CTO Surjan Singh.
Spira began with an idea in a garage in January 2016 and was incorporated soon after in April 2016. The idea for it was inspired by NASA’s research into ways of providing air, water, and food for astronauts in a closed system. After some research on vertical farming and hydroponics, Elliot decided to focus on spirulina, which is the fastest-growing, most nutritionally-dense, and least resource-intensive organism to grow.
Elliot began his own research in the area and decided to grow all of his nutrition-based food in a tiny space with only light, water, and a few simple salts. He soon began selling mason jars of spirulina starter culture to his friends to enable others to grow their own. Further experiments with growing the algae at a greater scale led to him developing methods to grow nutritional algae in a manner that tastes well and can be farmed anywhere effortlessly.
Performance and Trends
Spira has raised $130k in funding so far.
In April 2016, Spira was selected for the world’s first synthetic biology accelerator, RebelBio. Through the program, the team received access to scientific expertise and resources in the biotechnology field to kickstart the development of an MVP for Spira.
In August 2016, Spira received a grant from Lighthouse Labs in Richmond, Virginia and was also a part of the accelerator program where the team received guidance on business development, product development, marketing, and lean startup practices.
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