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Why we invested in Mycoworks

November 17, 2020
Paul Straub
Founding team of Mycoworks - creators of a sustainable, bioengineered fine mycelium based alternative to high end leather for fashion and retail.

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Bioengineering a sustainable, high-performance alternative to fine leather

Details

When I first met Matthew Scullin in 2009 he was launching a nanomaterials startup following his PhD at Berkeley. To explain his innovation, he shared images from an electron microscope, and casually noted that they had recently been displayed in an art exhibit at New York’s MoMA. That mention was illuminating. Matt was scientific and deeply technical, but possessed a design aesthetic along with strong artistic and cultural instincts. Years later, when Matt told me about his new company Mycoworks, it made perfect sense.

Mycoworks is on a mission to change the way things are made using high performance biomaterials. Global brands are responding to consumer demand for healthy, sustainable alternatives. Restaurant chains have partnered with Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Resale programs like Patagonia Worn Wear, Levis SecondHand and REI Used are core strategic initiatives. Every week new commitments are made to purchase renewable energy, eliminate unsustainable palm oils, or reduce packaging waste.

Mycoworks’ first product, Reishi, is a premium material that helps the world’s leading designers create beautiful products while meeting consumer demand for sustainable, planet friendly solutions. Reishi offers superior performance to animal leathers and petroleum-based synthetic leathers. It matches or surpasses the strength, versatility and durability of leather while retaining the beautiful look and sensual feel that is the essence of luxury leather products.

Wooden table with leather and leather-working materials and a "Made with Reishi" logo
Made with Reishi (photography by Jesse Green, courtesy of Mycoworks)

The Mycoworks team is a diverse group of scientists, engineers and manufacturing specialists working closely with artists, designers and brand marketing experts. This team perfectly reflects Matt’s own uncommon blend of technology, design and business talent. They’ve already begun scaling production and have earned the confidence of their first brand partners. Soon, some of the world’s most iconic fashion and performance brands will launch Reishi products.

I’m also excited to partner with Matt again. A decade ago, I led the seed round in Matt’s first startup, a materials company serving challenging industrial markets. Over seven years, we experienced big up and down swings, without ultimately realizing a big win. But we built tremendous respect for Matt and knew we wanted to back him again if we ever had a chance. We’re thrilled to support Mycoworks and its ambitious mission to change how things are made using high-quality biomaterials.

Founders

Phil Ross, Sophia Wang & Matt Scullin

Themes

Bioscience, Sustainable Fashion

First Investment

Series A, 2019

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