HBAN angels drive €1.2M FoodMarble investment round

By hban.org
Friday, 11th September 2020
  • FoodMarble has developed the world’s first personal digestive tracker, helping users to control food intolerances
  • Funding to be used for R&D and to support expansion into the US and Canada, where the company has deals with Best Buy and Amazon
  • Company achieved €1M in sales in 2019, its first year of sales, and predicts sales of €4M by year-end 2021
  • Funding follows €160K HBAN angel investment last year

HBAN (Halo Business Angel Network), the all-island organisation responsible for the promotion of business angel investment, and a joint initiative of Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest Northern Ireland, today announces that Dublin start-up FoodMarble has raised €1.2M in a funding round which included HBAN business angels from the MedTech syndicate who invested alongside Enterprise Ireland, SOSV and Delta Partners. The investment will support the company’s ongoing research and development, along with expansion into the US and Canada.

FoodMarble is the world’s first personal digestive breath analyser; helping people who suffer with digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to identify what foods they should avoid in order to prevent uncomfortable symptoms. Approximately one in eight people worldwide have IBS and FoodMarble for the first time have taken breath analysis out of the hospital setting, to help people overcome this challenging condition from the home. Linked to a smartphone app smartphone, it detects and tracks in real time what foods impact a user’s levels of bacterial fermentation. To date more than 15,000 devices have been sold worldwide, and in 2019, FoodMarble’s first year in business, sales topped €1M.

The company reports that there has been recent increased demand from hospitals. In-hospital breath analysis is costly both for patients and health services. However, since COVID-19 shut down testing facilities, clinicians in the United States, UK and Ireland have been contacting FoodMarble to obtain devices for patients, thus shortening waiting list backlogs in a cost-effective way, and reducing the risk of patients requiring additional treatment.

By year-end 2021, FoodMarble expects revenues to have quadrupled to €4M, fuelled by expansion into the US and Canada. The device will launch in Best Buy’s Canadian stores this month. Earlier this year, the company secured a place on the Amazon Launchpad programme, which is dedicated to introducing consumers to products from innovative start-ups.

Further US expansion is being supported by investors from the MedTech syndicate along with other HBAN investors, who last year invested an additional €160K in FoodMarble. Based on the angels’ industry knowledge and insights, the company expanded its clinical advisory board to put greater emphasis on US clinical relations; research and development in conjunction with US-based hospitals; and reimbursement for patients. Meanwhile, the angel investors’ industry networks in the US are providing FoodMarble with valuable business connections.

Aonghus Shortt, co-founder and CEO, FoodMarble, said: “This was very much a personal project for me in the beginning. My fiancée, Grace, suffers from IBS and it was often difficult for us to plan outings because she was unsure how she would feel. Once the product was developed, we knew that we had something very powerful and we wanted to offer it to others as an aid for them to be able to get on with everyday life comfortably.

“Along with our expansion in the US, we are continually innovating to ensure that we retain our position as the market leader for personal breath testing devices. With the support and advice of our business angels, we are well on target to achieve sales of €4M by the end of 2021.”

Niamh Sterling, Consultant, HBAN, said: “FoodMarble’s impressive sales in its first year of trading instantly impressed our investors. By uncovering a worldwide market gap, the potential for growth is huge.

“Business angel investment is extremely valuable to start-ups like FoodMarble, who have their eye on international expansion. Their multinational industry experience allows them to share insights and connections that can be transformational for a new business. This has already opened doors for FoodMarble in the US market and is supporting their continued innovation.”

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About HBAN

HBAN is a joint initiative of Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest Northern Ireland, dedicated to the all-island promotion of business angel investment. The HBAN umbrella group supports the early stage entrepreneurial community across the island of Ireland and actively works to increase the number of angel investors investing in early stage companies.  The all-island umbrella group works on a regional basis to support the formation of new angel networks and works with existing angel networks to develop their capability and capacity, and across a range of industry sectors. HBAN also acts as a voice to Government, stakeholders, business and the media to promote the interests and needs of the wider angel investment community. HBAN is managed by Dublin BIC in partnership with the regional Irish BICs in Cork, Galway & Waterford and with Clarendon Fund Managers in Northern Ireland. Further information is available at www.hban.org

About Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. The organisation works in partnership with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets. In this way, Enterprise Ireland supports sustainable economic growth and regional development, and help create and sustain employment in Ireland. www.enterprise-ireland.com

About InterTradeIreland

InterTradeIreland is the only organisation which has been given responsibility by both governments to boost North South economic co-operation to the mutual benefit of Northern Ireland and Ireland. InterTradeIreland is a powerful resource for business growth, helping SMEs through a strong mix of funding, innovation supports and meaningful contacts. www.intertradeireland.com

About Invest Northern Ireland

As the regional business development agency, Invest Northern Ireland’s role is to grow the local economy. The agency does this by helping new and existing businesses to compete internationally, and by attracting new investment to Northern Ireland. Invest NI is part of the Department for the Economy and provides strong government support for business by effectively delivering the Government’s economic development strategies. www.investni.com