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Dutch startup, born from son’s allergy scare, locks €500K funding

Dutch mother co-founded this startup motivated by son's allergic reaction: Now cements €500,000 funding

One in four children in Europe suffer from food allergies, leading to significant healthcare costs and impacting their well-being. However, recent research suggests a potentially transformative solution: introducing potential allergens to babies early in a controlled manner. 

This approach, known as early allergen introduction (EAI), is the foundation of Vini Mini, a Dutch startup that recently secured €500,000 in seed funding to develop products and solutions promoting EAI.

Earlier last year, Allermi, a San Francisco-based healthtech startup providing a customized approach to allergy relief raised a $3.5M seed round. Moreover, the same year, one allergy drop startup raises $2M to bring at-home allergy testing to everyone.

Vini Mini’s journey so far in terms of raising funds

Vini Mini’s funding journey has been fruitful. Prior to this €500,000 seed round, they received backing from APX, a German early-stage investor, and Rabobank, a Dutch bank. Their success continued when they were named the winner of the FEM-START Up Awards 2023, securing a €100,000 investment from Antler, a prominent global early-stage investor. 

This current round further builds their support with the participation of notable figures like Irene Groenink (a healthcare entrepreneur and investor from Vrederijk Investments), the Donor Impact Investment Fund (focused on supporting impactful businesses in the Netherlands), business angels from The Angel Initiative, and Rabobank, demonstrating broad confidence in Vini Mini’s potential.

What is Vini Mini trying to do

Laurie Lancee’s personal experience with her son’s severe allergic reaction fueled the co-founders’ passion to develop solutions. This firsthand understanding of the challenges faced by families dealing with food allergies adds a powerful layer of motivation to their mission.

Founded by Jozien Boersma and Laurie Lancee, both experienced entrepreneurs with over 15 years in the consumer goods industry, Vini Mini aims to:

  • Develop safe and effective nutritional products and supplements for babies.
  • Facilitate early allergen introduction in a controlled and personalised manner.
  • Ultimately, help prevent food allergies and improve the lives of millions of children.

The science behind early exposure

Vini Mini’s approach hinges on the growing body of research supporting EAI. This concept suggests that introducing potential allergens like peanuts and nuts to babies early in life, ideally between four to six months, can significantly reduce their risk of developing allergies later.

What are Vini Mini products 

Vini Mini offers a range of products designed to simplify and personalise the EAI process for parents:

  • Starter kits: These kits introduce specific allergens gradually, starting with very small amounts.
  • Follow-up kits: Tailored to individual needs and risk profiles, these kits maintain consistent exposure at appropriate levels.
  • Snacks: Designed for older babies, these allergen-containing snacks provide a convenient way to continue exposure.

Securing funding for growth

Vini Mini’s recent seed funding round of €500,000 demonstrates the potential and promise investors see in their approach. This funding, led by global early-stage investor Antler and including the Donor Impact Invest Fund, highlights the company’s potential for both social impact and commercial success.

Vini Mini plans to utilise the funding to expand its product distribution across various markets and strengthen its sales and marketing teams. Their ultimate vision is to become a leading player in preventive paediatric healthcare, offering solutions that benefit millions of parents and children across Europe.

RJ Schuurs, Partner at Antler, comments, “Jozien and Laurie are a highly experienced and motivated founding team addressing one of the biggest challenges in paediatric healthcare. They combine commercial experience with a strong sense of purpose and they could have a positive impact on millions of lives in the Netherlands and across Europe. I am delighted to have backed them and have every confidence in their future success.”

Important considerations: Consulting with a paediatrician remains key

While Vini Mini’s approach holds promise, it’s crucial to remember that EAI is a relatively new approach, and further research is ongoing to fully understand its long-term efficacy and safety. Consulting with a paediatrician before introducing any new food or supplement to a baby remains essential. Parents should rely on professional guidance to determine the most appropriate approach for their child’s individual needs and risk profile.

Vini Mini’s journey and recent funding success are testament to the ongoing efforts to combat the rising tide of food allergies in children. Their innovative approach, coupled with the support of experienced investors and a passionate team, offers a ray of hope for families seeking to prevent this potentially life-altering condition. While questions remain to be answered through continued research, one thing is clear: Vini Mini’s innovative approach has the potential to significantly impact the lives of countless children and their families.

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