Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital just invested $20 million in Woodoo, a startup making wooden alternatives to steel, cement, and glass, after seeing this pitch deck
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- Woodoo is a biotech startup creating alternatives to leather, glass, cement, and steel using wood.
- The Paris-based firm, founded in 2017, just secured $31 million in a mix of equity and debt.
- We got a peek inside the 8-slide pitch deck it used to raise from Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital.
It’s been about a decade since Timothee Boitouzet quit his job as an architect specializing in anti-earthquake wood structures to go back to school.
Having worked with traditional building materials, Boitouzet headed to Harvard and MIT to study chemistry, molecular biology, and material science, with the purpose of developing a material to build the cities of the future while also tackling climate change.
Now his company, a biotech converting wood into alternatives for emissions-intensive materials such as concrete and steel, has just secured $31 million. The cash injection is made up of around $20 million in venture capital led by Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital, with the remainder being debt and loans, Insider understands.
Paris-based Woodoo – aptly named to represent the company’s “magic” – uses a chemical process to extract lignin from planks of wood to create alternatives to leather, glass, concrete, and steel.
Lignin is a molecule that makes up about 25% of wood but is its “weak” building block, as it is food for insects and degrades over time, Boitouzet said. By replacing it with a bio-based filler, which changes depending on the wood type and end use-case, Woodoo can change the physical and optical nature of the material. “It’s like molecular gastronomy,” the founder and CEO said.
Founded in 2017, Woodoo’s process works with low-grade and even diseased wood, meaning that when a tree is culled due to infection, it can still be put to use. All of Woodoo’s wood is certified and comes from suppliers near its manufacturing site in Troyes, France; the site was specifically chosen to ensure a short supply chain.
Boitouzet is set on becoming the go-to option for building materials, having already seen traction in the luxury goods market. Woodoo won’t rely on its green credentials to convince buyers, but by outperforming traditional materials in their strength, look, and cost, Boitouzet said.
“New technologies have to come at least at cost parity with old technologies, they have to be way better for the environment, and they have to be cool, either in terms of what they can do or how they look, because not all customers are interested in environmental points. Some of them will buy the technology because it’s cool, and not necessarily because it’s the best for the environment,” he added.
Woodoo’s materials are currently more expensive than conventional but costs will come down when the company reaches scale, Boitouzet said.
The company’s go-to-market strategy is to work with individual partners on hyper-focused use cases to establish proof points. It has secured a partnership with European plywood manufacturer Garnica, which is betting on biotech playing a role in the future of construction. The building and construction sector is on track to miss its 2050 net zero goals; it accounted for around 37% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021.
Measured from when a tree is cut down to when a product leaves its factory gate, Woodoo’s glass, leather, and aluminum alternatives have respective carbon footprints that are seven, 30, and 229 times lower than conventional versions, Boitouzet said.
Swiss-based climate fund One Creation, French VC Purple, and angel investors participated in the round. Woodoo will double its headcount over the next 18 months from its current size of 40 people.
The company is focused on expansion, building out its commercial team while investing in technology and filing more patents. As well as having its own manufacturing sites, it has a subcontractor strategy to scale up quickly while remaining capex light – a move that resonated with investors, Boitouzet said.
Check out the 8-slide redacted pitch deck the company used to secure the funds: