The Nomiku team just completed their second successful Kickstarter campaign, which is for a smaller, simpler, and more powerful version of their product. It also features wi-fi for increased connectivity, and a mobile app to create and share recipes. In this video, top chefs explain why sous vide is the way of the future, and the team shows what’s new in version two:
We recently sat down with Nomiku co-founder and CEO Lisa Fetterman at their headquarters in San Francisco. Here, Lisa shares the maker story behind this amazing invention.
What makes Nomiku so unique?
Nomiku is the most state of the art thing that you can own in your kitchen. It’s the smallest immersion circulator ever, with a unique heating element that never burns out. My husband, our CTO, and I made it together. He comes from a physics background, with a doctorate in plasma physics. So if you can imagine Tony Stark making a kitchen appliance, this would be it. My background is that I worked for my heroes, the top chefs in the world: Jean-Georges, Mario Batali, Joshua Skenes of Saison. I also have a background in journalism, as an editor at Hearst.
What problem did you set out to solve?
In 2010, my husband and I were dead broke in the lower east side of New York. I was lamenting about how food never tastes the same when I cook it at home; I just couldn’t get that restaurant quality. There was one thing that made a big difference: the immersion circulator. Back then it was this huge, hulking thing for thousands of dollars. Totally inaccessible. And he said: “you know, we could just make one ourselves.” With hardware finds, we created our first prototype and cooked an egg at 64 degrees Celsius. When you do that, the yolk actually coagulates before the whites. You open it and its cooked inside-out. It tastes like liquid sunshine.
What were your next steps in turning your idea into a marketable product?
The next step was to make some for our friends and family. We created a bunch of these machines, and I watched in awe as one of our friends who usually burned water, could make a restaurant-quality meal with our machine. We saw this and knew it was a game changer for home cooks. We quit our jobs, made a polished model, and put it on Kickstarter. It became the number one most-funded project in the food category, and since then we’ve raised over $1.3 million through two Kickstarter projects.
You’re making the new Nomiku in the US. Can you tell us about manufacturing locally?
Our new version is all manufactured in the Bay Area. However, it’s folly to start a sophisticated tech product in the US. You will not get the sourcing; it won’t be lean. We were very lucky to have first learned in China. We spent a year side-by-side with our factory, engineering our own line. If we didn’t have that experience, we wouldn’t have the confidence to start something in America, because when you start in America you start from zero. You have to make your own “Frankenfactory”, with tools from here and parts from there. It’s not a very elegant process in the US, and it’s something that you can control better through experience.
Nomiku’s first Kickstarter campaign funded the team’s numerous visits to China, which allowed them a hands-on approach to the entire manufacturing process. The team sent updates to their supporters throughout the entire process, from China.
The Nomiku team drew a lot of inspiration from Pebble, who at the time was the top funded project on Kickstarter. “So many people make amazing products that could change the world, but they never go anywhere because they don’t get the word out,” says Lisa. “Pebble did a great job at this. It all comes down to how you make people feel, and how you communicate with them.”
The team outsources a bit of engineering, and working with external manufacturing partners, but does everything else in-house. Meet the makers: