New York-based sustainable biomaterial producer TômTex announced yesterday the closing of a successful seed round at 2.25 million US dollars, winning the support of Happiness Capital, who led the round, and key partners US-based venture capital firm SOSV, environmental non-profit Parley for the Oceans and MIH Capital. The company had raised 1.9 million US dollars in a previous pre-seed round, bringing the total to 4.15 million US dollars.
“I am excited about our recent fundraising success, which will fuel TômTex's team growth, key hires and expanded manufacturing. Beyond scaling, it's a strategic step to secure new contracts and revenue, strengthening our market position,” commented TômTex founder Uyen Tran in a press release.
TômTex has been spotted on the catwalk
TômTex takes its name from the Vietnamese word for shrimp, tôm, Tran’s birth country. The company made headlines with their new type of textile made from chitosan, a biopolymer abundant in seafood shells and mushrooms, when the leather-like material was used for catwalk creations at New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week by designers and brands like Peter Do, Di Petsa, Dauphinette and Maitrepierre.
“These collaborations in high fashion showcase the versatility of TômTex’s material—which can be custom-moulded, stamped, 3D-printed or simply embossed in different animal leather-style patterns,” explains the company.
The building material is a white, sandy, odourless powder, which can be found anywhere in nature. The scalability comes from this use of existing food waste matter rather than a lab-grown new material, which can be time-consuming, and costly.
“We now mainly extract it from shrimp shells because that is a major waste stream from the shellfish industry, but it is in everything, including mushrooms, coffee and insects,” explained TômTex engineer Nicole Sved in an earlier interview with FashionUnited.
TômTex uses shell seafood waste and mushrooms
Since then, TômTex’s biodegradable material has been divided into two series depending on its origin, Series WS made from shell seafood waste and the new Series M made from mushrooms. The chitosan is then mixed with other “green” substances according to the company in a “100 percent green” chemical process to create the textile.
The startup recently achieved its first continuous roll-to-roll material production milestone, producing 100 linear feet in this initial run with a plan for a ten times larger follow-up in the next few weeks. “This will mark the start of the full-scale production ramp aimed at serving larger commercial orders—a major hurdle in the ‘alternative leather’ segment,” according to TômTex.
“We are thrilled to be part of TômTex's journey,” said Eric Ng, general partner at Happiness Capital. “Their biomaterial technology is a game-changer, not just for its viability in the market but also for its sustainability. Investing in TômTex means investing in a scalable platform that has the potential to revolutionize industries while making a positive impact on our environment.”
“As you read this, you likely have at least four synthetic leather items, which are, in fact, plastic. These items will persist in our environment for centuries,” added Tien Nguyen, general partner at Earth Venture Capital. “We are incredibly proud to support TômTex to address this problem. As a major player in the global shrimp industry, Vietnam witnesses the massive waste of shrimp shells, aligning perfectly with TômTex's philosophy: ‘Waste is the new luxury.’ Now is the time for TômTex to scale. We are committed to this critical stage of the company, driven by a strong belief in the future of sustainable fashion.”