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Nirmal Nair

Sempera Organics Mentioned in Nutrition Business Journal, Aug 2022 Edition

From page 9: 

“The capital experience for brands in 2022 doesn’t have to be bleak, it just needs to be grounded. That’s what Nirmal Nair learned launching his Sempera Organics mushroom ingredient company “in the thick of the pandemic.” The secret to getting funding, he says, is “a crisp vision.” “We were able to hit the early milestones and that was very attractive to investors,” he says, recalling success in a $1.8 million seed round. Success in the A series round that Sempera is entering now requires more than early success, but Nair says having a built facility hasn’t just been proof of concept, it’s been proved that his team can make things happen. Nair and his crew built the Bay Area facility in late 2020—”Everybody was hunkered down and sequestered at home. I was going to work every day,” he says— and having a working operation was crucial to securing funding in the seed round. “I built a facility, I could build a product. And that was probably the single biggest selling point. I did not have fancy presentations. My presentation was to invite every investor to come and see what I’ve got,” Nair says. “That was the aha moment for almost everyone.” Most of his investors were from Silicon Valley, a place Nair knows from a series of software startups. None were from the natural products industry. Going into an A series round, he has to reach past that tech-heavy network and he is already facing a different set of questions. They want to know nuts and-bolts numbers about costs, production, projected sales and the mechanics of scaling the operation, he says. “We’ve already started some initial conversations, and those are important questions that are asked less often in an exuberant market or maybe in a different market, because in tech and software, the usual thinking is, ‘go for market share’ and ‘go get eyeballs and we’ll worry about profitability later.’” Profit, Nair says, is very much on the minds of the institutional investors and other funds he is courting now. The questions are demanding, but Nair says he expected demanding questions when he stepped from software into health and wellness. “My goal right from the beginning was not to just build a brand but to build something foundational,” he says. The questions are harder, but the work is also more important, he notes. “My big revelation and wanting to really take the plunge and go into wellness and food was, ‘you can’t eat software.’”

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Anand Vaid

Sempera Organics' staff writer seeks out all the latest mushroom news to keep you informed and up-to-date.