Matt Scullin is an American businessman. Currently, he is the CEO of MycoWorks, a startup that produces fungal leather. However, Scullin was also the CEO of a start-up called Alphabet Energy that went defunct in 2018 before that.
1. Is a Materials Scientist
Besides being a businessman, Scullin is a materials scientist as well. For those who are unfamiliar, materials scientists are pretty much exactly what they sound like, which is to say, they are focused with concerns such as the design of new materials, the discovery of new materials, and the investigation of existing materials. Their work has important consequences for a wide range of processes at a wide range of organizations. Something that explains why materials science is its own field rather than just a sub-field of chemistry, physics, and engineering.
2. Worked On Methane Emissions Reduction
Apparently, Scullin worked on methane emissions reduction, which is a topic of interest for a wide range of parties. In short, methane is a greenhouse gas, meaning that methane emissions are contributing to climate change. What makes it particularly notable is that it is much better at trapping heat within the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, with the result that it has a disproportionate effect. As a result, there is enormous interest in both methods that can be used to remove methane from the atmosphere and methods that can be used to prevent methane from entering the atmosphere.
3. Co-Founded Alphabet Energy
As mentioned earlier, Scullin was the CEO of Alphabet Energy. Said startup was involved in producing electricity by using waste heat, which is unsurprising considering what he has worked on as a materials scientist. In fact, it should be mentioned that Scullin was one of the co-founders of Alphabet Energy.
4. Has Talked about Using the Waste Heat of Vehicles
Generally speaking, when people think of producing electricity by using waste heat, they think of using the waste heat from power plants and the like. However, it is interesting to note that Scullin has talked about producing electricity by using the waste heat from vehicles. Theoretically speaking, the resulting electricity might be used to power the vehicle, thus providing two benefits through one process. One benefit would be an improvement in the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The other benefit would be reducing the waste that results from the vehicle’s operation.
5. Currently Working with Fungi
MycoWorks is a very meaningful name. After all, myco- is a prefix that indicates that something is connected with either mushrooms or other fungi in some manner. As a result, it stands to reason that a company called MycoWorks is using fungi to make some kind of product.
6. Currently Working to Produce Fungal Leather
To be exact, Scullin is running a company that produces fungal leather. Making fabric from non-animal sources is both a recent thing and a not so recent thing depending on how one contextualizes it. There is evidence of textiles from about 27,000 years ago, which is well before the invention of written history. Simultaneously, the use of clothing is much older, so much so that there is evidence that it was a thing as far back as 100,000 to 500,000 years ago. In any case, humans have thousands and thousands of years of experience with making fabric from non-animal sources such as flax and cotton. Even so, fungal leather is something that is very new in that context.
7. Has a Big Potential Market
Fungal leather has a big potential market. Scullin says that about $150 billion of leather products are sold on an annual basis. A figure that means that there should be plenty of room for fungal leather for a couple of reasons. One, there are those who might see fungal leather as a more ethical product than animal leather, some of whom are presumably currently consumers for animal leather products and some of whom are presumably currently not consumers for animal leather products. Two, there are those who will see fungal leather as a less problematic product from an environmental perspective. After all, the rearing of livestock is very resource-intensive, with this being even truer for cattle than for every other common kind of livestock.
8. Has an Advantage Versus Plastic Substitutes
Scullin’s fungal leather has an advantage versus plastic substitutes for leather. After all, most plastics are made out of fossil fuels, meaning that they come with the same environmental issues as other uses for said substances. Thanks to that, even though plastic leather might be seen as being more ethical than animal leather, it still loses out when compared with fungal leather. Having said that, Scullin’s company faces a lot of competition from other companies producing either the same or similar materials, so he doesn’t exactly enjoy absolute freedom either.
9. Understands that His Product Needs to Be Practical
It is interesting to note that Scullin has a keen awareness of the fact that his company’s fungal leather needs to be practical if it wants to substitute for animal leather to a meaningful extent. There are presumably people out there who are willing to buy a product made out of an inferior material because it is seen as being more sustainable. However, their numbers won’t be enough to make for widespread adoption, which is what Scullin and the rest of MycoWorks are aiming for.
10. Planning to Scale Up Production
Recently, MycoWorks raised $125 million in a fresh round of funding. Apparently, this sum will be used to scale up its production of its fungal leather, which will presumably mean more production at a lower per unit cost. Both of which are characteristics that should make MycoWorks more capable of carving out a foothold in its target market. In any case, the intent to scale up production on the part of MycoWorks’s leadership makes it clear that the company has confidence in its product, so it might be a good idea to keep an eye out for further news in the days ahead.