Q. Evolved By Nature describes itself as a new type of biotech company. Can you explain what that means and what makes EBN special?
Biotech companies are often preoccupied with synthesizing materials to mimic those found in nature. And there are a lot of valuable and worthwhile reasons to do that.
But at Evolved By Nature, we focus on unlocking powerful materials that already exist in nature. We use the tools of molecular and chemical engineering to create and exploit a vast library of peptides derived from the inside of silk fiber. We’re then able to use the principles of biotechnology and molecular engineering to alter, manipulate, combine, and enhance silk peptides through a rigorous design and complexing process that creates new, novel materials.
The feedstock is harvested from nature, but the patented end molecule products have never before existed. We find that by creating technology this way, from a feedstock that can be raised sustainably, our end products are in turn as sustainable as possible and exist in support of a circular economy.
Q. As a scientist, what got you excited about silk?
Silk as a biomaterial is incredibly diverse. Prior to founding Evolved By Nature, I was working on silk-based medical devices for soft tissue reconstructions. The success of that project was a breakthrough, but it also felt like beginning of something rather than the completion of research involving silk peptides. What we came to quickly realize is that there is such a universe of potential within silk protein that there are applications in almost anything with a surface. Essentially, if something exists as a barrier – be that human skin, textiles, leather, preservative coatings – silk has the potential to make or keep that barrier sustainable while increasing the inherent performance characteristics. So, unless it’s a soundwave or a rainbow or something without an actual surface, there’s an avenue of innovative there.
That’s also why we’re always looking for scientific talent to join the Evolved By Nature team. There’s so much potential, from therapeutic applications to sustainable, green chemistry – there’s incredible avenues of research and development, in almost any focus.
Q. As a founder and leader how do you personally connect to the mission/vision of EBN?
Evolved By Nature’s mission is to advance human health and the health of the planet. That’s because human health is deeply entwined with the health of our ecosystems. A skincare product might be nontoxic on skin, but it gets washed off, down drains and into waterways where it eventually finds its way into human bodies via environmental exposure, and now it’s doing harm. Many of the things we rely on to make our products efficacious are derived from the fossil fuels that are driving climate change and pushing us past the planetary boundary of novel chemical pollution, both of which directly affect human health in a myriad of ways. As the co-founder of a company, I feel that the only way forward is to connect with a vision for a healthier future. What alternative is there?
Q. Congratulations on your latest funding round. What is on the horizon that you can share with us?
Thank you. We’re building out a large-scale facility for the production of Activated Silk™ biotechnology, which has been very exciting. We’re also amplifying the amount of scientific talent that we’re dedicating to build out our future library of silk peptides for applications from therapeutics to apparel coatings. And we’re building out various service offerings to help facilitate market adoption of our innovations. So, brand building, marketing, distribution, creative services for brand partners in personal care and skincare to help launch brands based on our proprietary polypeptides. The funding has really allowed us to increase research, production and services in a synergistic way that we feel is going to be very impactful for us.
Q. What have you found to be most helpful in working with your investors?
Our investors have been incredibly in helping to audit the market viability of our various business units. Our technology has such limitless optionality that at times it can seem like almost any avenue is available when it comes to R&D and eventually going to market. Of course, hard decisions need to be made in terms of what to focus on first to make the most amount of progress, and our investors have been incredibly valuable in helping to assess where focus should be directed in the near term.
Q. What is one of the best pieces of advice you received when you started as a founder?
Surround yourself with people you can learn from and learn as much as you can from them. It’s not about simply plugging people into roles, it’s about finding real subject matter experts that can elevate everyone’s knowledge base, while leveraging their experience to move the project forward faster and more efficiently.
Q. Do you have any advice for new founders?
Work to find the right balance. Founding a company isn’t something that you do once, it’s something that you have to do with discipline every single day, and it can be easy to get completely consumed by it. There’s a long road ahead and there are ways to set and achieve aggressive goals by hiring an incredible team, working efficiently and taking calculated risks, without having to work 24/7. As a founder, you are an invaluable asset to the company, so you need to stay healthy and effective by finding the correct balance for yourself between work and life.
About Evolved By Nature
Founded in 2013 in Boston, MA, Evolved By Nature is a biotechnology company that creates renewably sourced solutions to human health needs. Activated Silk biotechnology leverages natural silk protein to create sustainable molecules with the potential to protect, repair, and enhance the barrier function of anything with a surface. Enabling the next generation of products that advance the health of people and the planet, Evolved By Nature has unlocked applications for Activated Silk biotechnology within textiles, personal care, aesthetic and medical treatments, therapeutics and more, with limitless possibilities. www.evolvedbynature.com