The popular gluten-detecting device, Nima Sensor, had nearly disappeared overnight after being acquired by a medical device company in early 2020. Did the Nima Sensor go out of business? Or is it back in business again? This article will provide a summary of all that went down. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
Update on September 16, 2021: After more than a year of being MIA, Nima Sensor has announced it is rebranding as Nima Partners. Nima Partners is a NEW company that will sell Nima Sensors directly from its website with, what it says, will be consistent inventory, an updated app, and a committed customer service line. Please read this article to read my article with the new CEO.
In early May 2020, the founders of Nima Sensor sold their business to Medline, a leading medical device company. In June 2020, Nima Sensor founder, Shireen Yates, made the announcement “official” in an email to Nima Sensor customers.
She wrote, “I’m delighted to share that Nima has been acquired by one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of healthcare products. You can continue to purchase Nima products on Amazon.”
“In Nima’s new home, we are thrilled to have found an avenue which will help realize the scale we had always envisioned for Nima,” she concluded the email, offering the reassurance we needed to know Nima would not only live on, but also that it would grow and help more people. A beautiful message indeed!
Since that fateful day, however, Nima Sensor users have not been able to purchase test capsules on Amazon or through Medline, capsules which are essential to being able to use the Nima Sensor device.
This has led to a variety of frustrations, speculations, rumors and downright anger among the Nima Sensor community, most of whom have invested a lot of money in the device that has been rendered useless without its accompanying test capsules.
I contacted Yates so see if she knew what was up with Medline, only to find out that she didn’t know what happened either. When she sold the company, she said Medline assured her that the Nima Sensor would continue and be in good hands. She said she was just as upset and frustrated as the rest of us, so she posted the following message in the Nima Sensor Users Group on Facebook in July 2020:
“I no longer have any visibility into the operations of Nima (this is really hard for me!!). I, too, am now waiting for capsules! That said, I spent a lot of time with the folks who are taking the baton for the next phase of Nima and I am confident Nima is in great hands,” she wrote.
Medline was telling everyone different stories, sending confusing mixed messages about the fate of the beloved brand. Medline told most of us that Nima Sensor was out of business and that the test capsules, the exact ones that so many of us relied on, would no longer be available for purchase.
On September 1, 2020, I emailed the Medline public relations manager. She replied within a few hours, thanking me for bringing this matter to her attention and vowing to get to the bottom of it.
On September 9, 2020, she replied to me with the following statement, “It has been a very unusual year, and the healthcare global supply chain continues to be impacted by external forces such as COVID-19. Unfortunately, these circumstances have also affected many products we distribute, including Nima. We are working to find ways to restart the Nima supply chain so that customers can access the supplies, as we know how important these products are to the lives of Nima users.”
She followed up this email with a phone call, where she reiterated the company’s official statement on the matter.
Over the past year, I have reached out several times to talk with this same public relations manager, and my emails have been ignored.
In the meantime, Medline tweeted this beauty of a message a few weeks later, on September 30, 2020:
The one thing that became very clear to the Nima Sensor community in all of this is that Medline Industries is a mess and cannot get its story straight.
In fact, dozens of people in the Nima Sensor User Group have shared their frustrating, confusing and inept conversations and communications with Medline, and most of us, at this point in time, are being told that Nima Sensor is indeed out of business.
New Hope for Nima
In September 2021, more than a year and half after the original owners sold their business, Nima Sensor came back to life as a newly rebranded company known as Nima Partners. Fans were thrilled at the notion of having their beloved gluten-testing device back.
When Nima Partners launched its new website on September 24, 2021, I ordered two boxes of capsules. Unfortunately, according to the new Chief Executive Officer, David DellaFave, the company experienced an “unforeseen” issue with the ecommerce system during its launch and could not fulfill any of the orders after all.
DellaFave emailed everyone who placed an order, approximately 500 people, telling them he is refunding all orders and will need to relaunch at a later day. (The company has since successfully relaunched.)
Interview with David DellaFave
After the launch debacle, I emailed DellaFave to request an interview. He was happy to oblige. On October 4, 2021, we spoke for 45 minutes over the phone.
I first asked DellaFave what went down with Medline and how did this deal with his company, Nima Partners, transpire?
He told me Medline contacted him to become a “partner” and help revitalize the brand. He was thrilled to be a part of it because, he says, he also has a personal stake in the community as his four-year-old son has a gluten intolerance. He said there are other “partners” as well but was unable to elaborate.
I pressed DellaFave to better understand what “partner” meant and if he owned the company, or Medline owned the company, or what?
I couldn’t help but notice that DellaFave was choosing his words carefully. He continually skirted my probe to fully understand the partnership that formed between him and Medline, and to be honest, I’m still confused.
All he said he could tell me is that Medline, and “other investors,” are “partners” in the new Nima Partners business.
I told DellaFave that Medline left a negative impression on so many people, and that the company basically ran the Nima Sensor into the ground. I told him how numerous people contacted Medline and were told that Nima Sensor was out of business.
DellaFave defended Medline saying, “I disagree that Medline ran Nima Sensor into the ground. Medline kept the company afloat when the original company couldn’t keep it afloat.”
I also asked DellaFave about the flubbed launch of Nima Partners in late September 2021. I asked him if he perhaps thought he launched prematurely, before the ecommerce system was in place and before he even had the chance to forward the old website (nimasensor.com) to the new website (nimapartners.com). He also didn’t have access to the new social media handles at the time of the launch (and still doesn’t have access to them but says he soon will).
He defended the launch saying the platform in place was well tested, but it still failed. He switched to another provider that he says he “trusts more.” The new ecommerce platform should be up and running and ready to accept orders “soon.”
He also noted that transparency is important to him, and that he was committed to full transparency about what happened on the launch day. He says he’s now focused now on getting the 1,800 loyal Nima Sensor owners the products they need. (He said that 1,800 individual people have purchased from Nima Sensor since the company’s original inception.)
Update: While Nima Sensor put its customers through a roller coaster of emotions, two other portable gluten-detecting devices began making their way into the hearts of the gluten-free community, promising to give Nima a run for its money.
First up is the ALLIS Sensor, which launched its pre-order sale in the summer of 2021. The company says it will be widely available in November 2021. The ALLIS Sensor promises to provide more accurate results and less limitations than Nima. You can learn more about ALLIS Sensor here or preorder one here. (I pre-ordered one and anticipate it in November 2021.)
Next is the beautiful Allergy Amulet, which won’t have a gluten-detecting device available until sometime in 2022. The Allergy Amulet is beautiful wearable that can be worn as a wristband necklace, or keychain.
How the Nima Sensor Works
Now that you’re up to speed on the Nima Sensor debacle, let me share a bit more about this device in case you’re interested in investing in one of your own. Remember, before investing in Nima, compare and contrast it to the new ALLIS Sensor, to decide which is a better fit for you.
The Nima Sensor is a portable, pocket-sized gluten detecting device. To test a small portion of your food for gluten, you add a pea-sized amount of food into one of the single use test capsules. (You can also test your food for peanuts using a peanut test capsule.)
As you can see from the above photo, the test capsules are an essential component to using the Nima Sensor.
I have written extensively about the Nima Sensor in my article, 13 Things You Need to Know about the Nima Sensor, and I’ve tested dozens of restaurants for hidden gluten, which you can continue to access inside my Eating Out library.
Nima Is Back, Baby
Before ordering, be sure to look at the pros and cons of competitive devices: