Portfolio Impact: An Interview With Si-Ware

We are immensely proud of the impact that our portfolio companies have had on their industries and the wider ecosystem. We hope to showcase this impact through a new series of interviews between the founders of our portfolio companies and Sawari partners. We are excited to spark a conversation about how these startups and Sawari Ventures are joining forces to leave a distinct imprint on the region.

This time, we are turning our attention to Si-Ware. Si-Ware’s NeoSpectra all-in-one, universal material analysis solution platform, built on a family of single-chip FT-NIR spectrometers, enables businesses to bring the lab to the field and makes the concept of analyzing anywhere with a high return on investment a reality. Combining portable analyzers that have unprecedented performance and accuracy with the NeoSpectra Lab Store, a secure place to discover and download test methods developed by FT-NIR technology experts, Si-Ware’s solutions deliver instant insights to industries such as agriculture, food, life sciences, and others.

In 2022, Si-Ware won the Best Product Award at the MEMS and Sensors Executive Congress.

To better understand what sets Si-Ware apart, the kind of impact it has had, and where the company can go, we asked Si-Ware CEO, Youssri Helmy and Sawari Ventures Chairman and Partner, Ahmed El-Alfi to share their insights.

Youssri Helmy, what would you say sets Si-Ware apart from other players in the ecosystem/industry? Where do you think you will be able to have the biggest impact?

Si-Ware has a proprietary technology that enables it to move the material analysis market from the mainframe to the PC era. SiWare’s technology miniaturized bench-top lab equipment to a portable form factor with a 10x reduction in price, which is the definition of a disruptive technology.

The direct impact is that soil, food, and animal feed can now be lab-quality tested by any quality worker with little or no training for a flat monthly price that’s close to a mobile phone plan.

We created an ecosystem around the technology that’s empowering third parties to build solutions that we haven’t foreseen. For example, we have three global food companies building supply chain remote quality inspection solutions with their suppliers to eliminate out-of-spec shipments, which reduces cost and carbon footprint. Also, global philanthropy is building a credit-scoring application based on the soil quality predicted by our sensors to fund farmers in Africa.

Ahmed El-Alfi, when deciding to invest in Si-Ware, what kind of impact were you hoping the company would have? Both on the industry as well as a wider ecosystem/society?

I believed from the beginning that Si-Ware was a unique company. And investing in a company like Si-Ware, which had been successfully developing a product for over ten years, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Si-Ware’s technology is transformative in many markets. Having invested in companies using the desktop spectrometers Si-Ware is replacing, I had a sense of some of the potential markets.  I have come to realize I was wrong; the potential for Si-Ware is so much larger than we originally thought it was.

Youssri, how was Sawari able to help you capitalize on your impact potential? And what would you say is the value add an investor can generally bring to a company like yours?

Sawari is a true partner. They are helping Si-Ware with recruiting, fundraising, and strategic connections to prospective partners. Alfi is an investor with a strong entrepreneurial track record, and his value add is unique because he understands both sides of the table.

Alfi, looking ahead, where do you see Si-Ware in 2/5/10 years? What are you hoping its long-term impact will be?

A global company that has transformed material sensing for business clients and possibly for consumers.