Start-up Vini Mini develops products to prevent allergies. A lot has happened since the last time we spoke to Laurie Lancee. For example, she won the FEM-START Up Award – and with it €100,000 euros from investment company Antler – and Vini Mini’s product range was expanded from three to seventeen products. IO called Lancee for an update.
Allergic to eggs
It all started when Viggo, Lancee’s little son, was diagnosed with an egg allergy. “When I gave him a piece of egg, his body reacted very violently: his ears got thick, he started spitting up, his feet turned blue and his body became increasingly flaccid,” Lancee previously told IO.
After examination at the hospital, it was found that Viggo also had an increased risk of developing other allergies, something more common among people with food allergies. Lancee wanted to prevent that at all costs. “Together with the medical team, we started giving Viggo weekly small amounts of protein from products to which many people are allergic, such as peanuts and tree nuts.”
Minuscule amounts of peanut
That’s how Lancee came up with the idea for Vini Mini. The company sells tiny amounts of peanuts and nuts in capsules or sachets. By slowly adding more peanut powder to children’s food, the chances of them developing food allergies are significantly reduced. The LEAP Study (one of the largest studies of food allergy) found that only three percent of children developed a food allergy after being gently exposed to peanuts. In the other study group, which was not exposed to peanuts at all, seventeen percent had developed a food allergy.
Whereas last year the company only offered a solution for peanut allergy, they expanded their innovation to include cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts. The form of administration was also expanded; parents can now give their children the substances via chips. This diversity in supply is a strategic move to reach and protect more children from developing allergies.
Vini Mini products specifically target babies from four months to one year, when immune system development is at a crucial stage. Lancee: “The annoying thing is that if you start later, you almost can’t get over your allergy. So then you have a permanent chronic disease.”
Platforms for women: much needed
In recent years, Lancee’s company has raised nearly 400,000 euros in funding. She dragged in a quarter of that by winning the FEM-START Up Award. “Platforms specifically for women in start-ups are crucial to ultimately achieve more equality,” the entrepreneur believes. “For example, you also have The Angel Initiative: an investor collective of women with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences who invest in women-owned businesses. These kinds of initiatives, events, and networks are badly needed; women are severely underrepresented in this world. Only two percent of all investments in the Netherlands go to women entrepreneurs. A stage where women take center stage is very important.”