Spira uses spirulina to combat malnutrition and food insecurity.
Spira started at Indie Lab, a community science laboratory, in winter of 2016. The concept was to create a home-grown meal replacement. Elliot Roth had been doing freelance consulting work for a number of clients around the area but business wasn’t going well. He was running out of funds and decided to move out of his apartment, and into his girlfriend’s place to save money. At the time, the only remaining cost for him was food.
Frustrated by the wastefulness of his previous roommates, Elliot shifted to a mostly liquid diet supplemented by leftovers and whatever he could find. After one particularly challenging day, he realized that he could grow his own food, thus eliminating all of his costs in order to focus on what truly mattered to him. After a brief investigation into vertical farming and hydroponics, Elliot decided to focus on the fastest-growing, least resource-intensive and most nutritionally-dense organism: spirulina.
He had come across spirulina in a NASA article when doing research and writing about synthetic biology. Taking his last paycheck, along with funding from a previous failed startup, he ordered a starter culture, and started growing. He started harvesting and eating spirulina as a supplement in late February. After a month of growing, he had to double the tank again, eventually ending up with multiple green bubbling tanks. Elliot started to sell mason jars of spirulina starter culture to friends to enable others to grow their own.
In April 2016, Spira was selected for the world’s first synthetic biology accelerator, RebelBio. The program provided scientific expertise and access to resources in the biotechnology field for a jumpstart .
In August 2016, Spira received a grant from Lighthouse Labs in Richmond, Virginia. The acceptance to their renowned accelerator program provided fast-paced business development and mentorship. They also provided guidance through partners that specialize in design, product development, marketing, talent building, fundraising, and lean startup practices.
In April 2017, Spira was selected for the World Food Programme bootcamp to build a social impact model to help people grow nutrition in the developing world. Their Innovation Accelerator gave our company a better scope of design-thinking and other invaluable resources to better provide for people around the world.
In July 2017, Spira was selected for the Halcyon Incubator in Washington, D.C. This program focuses on empowering social-conscious companies by providing funding and other vital resources to enable a thriving team.
In January 2018, Spira was selected for AccelerateDC and the BeGreen Hub, both programs that focused on customer discovery and development.
In March 2018, Spira was selected for the NSF I-Corps program. We are one of the first non-university teams to be accepted for this prestigious award.
We’re more than excited to continue our journey to provide better food.