Peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish, oh my! Allergy Amulet Founder and CEO Abigail Barnes (FES ‘16) and Member of our General Partner Nels Friets (YC ‘83) have more in common than a passion for entrepreneurship. Abi and Nels initially bonded over their shared struggle with severe food allergies, and after the company became part of our portfolio, Nels has continued to advise Allergy Amulet as Bulldog's liaison.
For many people, dealing with food allergies can mean life or death. According to Abi, dining out while “avoiding foods with certain allergens or ingredients is all too often a game of Russian roulette,” since even a small mistake by the wait staff can have dire consequences. Dr. Joseph BelBruno, a chemistry professor at Dartmouth College, tree nut allergy sufferer, and leading expert in sensor technologies, has been working with Abi and a team of highly-qualified individuals and advisors to develop the Amulet.
The Amulet device consists of a reader and a single-use disposable test strip. The reader is a portable device the size of your thumb, which can even be worn as a fashionable piece of jewelry or incorporated into everyday items like key chains. Users will insert a test strip into their food and then plug the test strip into the reader, which will alert the user to the presence or absence of the target allergenic ingredient within seconds. The Allergy Amulet team is focused on ensuring a high degree of accuracy, and optimizing for selectivity, sensitivity, and specificity. Currently, they are selectively binding target molecules in common food allergens in under a minute at low part-per-million concentrations.
With beta testing on the horizon, they are planning to go out for their Series A this January, which will take them through beta testing and product launch. To date, the company has raised $1.5mn from venture capital and angels. Allergy Amulet’s sound science and passion for the greater good makes us excited to continue our support for the company, both in mentorship and follow-on funding as it enters the market.