Nomiku, a pioneering kitchen tech startup that helped bring sous vide to the consumer market, is shutting down operations effective immediately.
In an email sent to customers this morning, Lisa Fetterman, Nomiku founder and CEO, wrote that the company will be shutting down all operations, including both its sous vide appliance business and its sous vide ready meal business, Nomiku Meals.
In an interview with The Spoon, Fetterman said that while the company saw strong growth in their meal delivery business after the company pivoted one year ago – she said they doubled revenue since the launch of the food business – it just wasn’t enough.
“We just couldn’t get the company to a sustainable place,” said Fetterman.
Fetterman indicated that for long term survival, the company would need to raise capital and that that was going to be challenging in today’s environment. She said that while being a hardware company made it hard to raise additional capital, it was going to be even tougher as a “food tech” startup focused on food delivery.
The demise of meal kit companies “have put a chill on the market when it came to raising funds,” said Fetterman.
The exit of Nomiku from the market marks the end of what has been a fairly rough of couple years for the first wave of startups in the connected cooking market. Sansaire, which started around the same time as Nomiku, shut down in February of 2018. Hestan Cue, maker of a guided cooking system, downsized its team in April, and just a few weeks later ChefSteps, another sous vide startup, had to layoff a significant portion of its team before it got acquired by Breville.
According to Fetterman, the company has been in discussions with potential acquirers, and while she hasn’t ruled out a potential deal, nothing has evolved to the point where she could move in that direction yet.
So for now, at least, Nomiku is no more.
I asked her what that means for existing customers, both for owners of the Nomiku sous vide circulator and of the meal delivery service, and this is what she told me: For food delivery, anyone who has been charged will receive their food. For any new orders in the last week or so that haven’t been charged, those will be cancelled. For those with a circulator, they will continue to support those still under a year warranty “as long as supplies last.”
Fetterman said that those with the circulator can reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org for updates and continuing support.
For me, the news of Nomiku’s demise is a real bummer. Fetterman has been one of the industry’s most outspoken and innovative entrepreneurs, and her absence will leave the space just a little less interesting.
For her part, Fetterman is still sorting through how to feel as she shuts down the company she spent the last ten years building with her husband, Abe Fetterman.
“I started the company when I was 22,” said Fetterman. “I’m 32 now. I’ve grown up as an entrepreneur and a person, publicly. It is very easy to feel a huge of sense of defeat failing publicly as well. That’s par for the course.”
When Fetterman started her company a decade ago, she was among the first to see the opportunity in bringing sous vide to the masses. Over time, others entered the market and the competition wasn’t always friendly. At times, the elbow throwing between Nomiku and competitors even spilled into public view.
“When I started Nomiku, I always knew the tremendous risk it held to invent a category and then fight against really cut throat competitors,” said Fetterman.
Despite the outcome, Fetterman said she’s still very proud of what she and the team have accomplished, including centering the company’s manufacturing in the US.
“There were things I couldn’t control, but I feel proud of the way we have run the company, that we always tried to do the right thing and not cut corners. I feel proud that we moved the manufacturing back to the States.”
Fetterman doesn’t know what’s next for her and is planning to take a little time off after ten years of running a startup. When I asked her if she plans on starting another company in the food space, she said it’s too soon to say, but she did think there is still lots of opportunity for innovation in cooking.
“People will always need a simple solution for dinner. That is obvious to everybody. I think the next great food tech company is out there, even in the next year, but it’s hard to say what that looks like right now.”