TômTex, a producer of bio-based materials using Chitosan made from seashell or mushroom waste, has recently raised a $4.15M seed round led by Happiness Capital. Earth Venture Capital, SOSV, Parley for the Oceans, and MIH Capital also participated in the round.
The fashion and automotive industries are racing to discover leather alternatives to displace the current animal, plastic-based materials. Taking its name from the Vietnamese word for shrimp - tôm, TômTex produces 100% biodegradable materials, including Series WS (made from shell seafood waste) and the new Series M (made from mushroom). TômTex uses raw chitosan, a biopolymer abundant in seafood shells and mushrooms, for both materials. The chitosan is mixed with other green substances to create the textile through a green chemical process. The final material is breathable yet durable. It looks like real leather, yet soft enough to be hand-stitched or machine-sewn. It’s naturally biodegradable, free of plastic, and made using green, water-based chemistry.
The inherent scalability of TômTex comes from using existing food waste matter to create its material rather than lab-growing new material, which can be time-consuming and costly. The startup recently achieved the first continuous roll-to-roll material production milestone, producing one hundred linear feet in this initial run with a plan for a 10x follow-up in the next few weeks. This will mark the start of the full-scale production ramp aimed at serving commercial orders.
"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. We are incredibly proud to support TomTex to address this problem. As a major player in the global shrimp industry, Vietnam witnesses the massive waste of shrimp shells, aligning perfectly with TomTex's philosophy: 'Waste is the new luxury.' Now is the time for TomTex to scale. We are committed to this critical stage of the company, driven by a strong belief in the future of sustainable fashion." Stated Tien Nguyen, General Partner of Earth Venture Capital.
Uyen Tran, TômTex’s founder and CEO, was born and raised in Danang, Vietnam - one of the world’s leading textile manufacturing hubs. As a trained designer, Uyen witnessed the impact of textile pollution from polyester and synthetic garments first-hand. She realized nearly 1 million tonnes of aquaculture waste is discarded annually in Vietnam at the same time. In 2022, TômTex collaborated on runway pieces for New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week shows for Peter Do, Dauphinette, Di Petsa, and Maitrepierre collections. The material is also in joint developments with BMW, Mercedes-Benz Group, etc. These collaborations showcase the versatility of TômTex’s material - which can be custom-molded, stamped, 3D-printed, or simply embossed in different animal leather-style patterns.
“I am excited about our recent fundraising success! The funds will fuel TômTex's team growth, key hires, and expanded manufacturing. More than scaling, it's a strategic step to secure new contracts and revenue, strengthening our market position. Heartfelt thanks to our dedicated team and investors who believe in the power of scalable and sustainable TômTex’s biomaterial technology platform. Together, we're forging a path toward a more sustainable, innovative future. Exciting times ahead!” The Founder said.
The funds will be used to grow TômTex’s Brooklyn-based team with key leadership roles and expand the company’s in-house and contract manufacturing capabilities. Beyond scaling up, the new funding is a pathway to securing new contract orders and revenue streams, solidifying TômTex’s position in the market.