Windfall Bio is seeing strong demand for its methane-eating microbe startup | TechCrunch

Windfall Bio is seeing strong demand for its methane-eating microbe startup | TechCrunch

When Josh Silverman Started shopping around the idea for his methane-eating microbe startup, Windfall Bio, eight years ago, the market wasn't ready. “Nobody cared about methane,” he said. Companies were instead focused on reducing their carbon emissions. But after a few years, the market is starting to come around.

Menlo Park-based Windfall Bio raised a $28 million Series A round to expand its commercialization efforts. The round was led by Prelude Ventures with participation from Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund, Inksite Ventures and Positive Ventures, among others, as well as existing investors including Mayfield.

Windfall works with industries that produce large levels of methane, such as agriculture, oil and gas, and landfills. The startup supplies methane-eating microbes that absorb methane emissions and turn them into compost. Companies can either use the fertilizer themselves, if they are in the agriculture sector, or they can sell it as a revenue stream.

“We believe there is a huge opportunity to take advantage of this natural ecosystem that provides us with a low-cost solution without the need for massive capital investment as we are seeing for these other carbon capture technologies. are,” Silverman said.

While it took a few years to really get investors and companies on board, Silverman said since Windfall raised its seed last year and emerged from stealth in March 2023, demand has been strong.

“We've had a massive influx from all continents and all verticals. Huge amounts of enthusiasm,” Silverman said. “It's a win-win for everyone, regardless of industry. Everyone wants to reduce their carbon footprint, and they want to do it in a way where they can make money and there aren't many solutions.

Carbon capture was the only focus for so long, Silverman says, because once carbon is in the atmosphere, it lasts forever compared to methane's 10- to 12-year lifespan. A few decades ago, when people thought about climate change, they were looking for more long-term solutions. But now that the effects of climate change are becoming more pronounced and worse, people are waking up to the need for both short-term and long-term solutions.

“We've missed literally every single climate goal we've set,” Silverman said. No single G20 country has the policies necessary to reach this. The Paris Agreement's emissions reduction targets, For example. “If what you're doing is looking into the future and not doing it day-to-day, you lose sight of those goals and miss what's right in front of you. Needs to be managed, or we won't be around to deal with it long term.

The lack of attention to methane is also surprising because methane can actually generate better ROI for companies from their carbon reduction efforts.

Carbon is waste, which means that when companies capture it, they only do so to get rid of it, as opposed to turning it into something else. In comparison, methane is energy, which means it can be captured and regenerated much more easily than carbon. Essentially, companies can reduce carbon for potential cost savings down the road, or a highly legal carbon credit, while focusing on methane can actually make them money if they work with a company like Windfall. do

The deal also stood out to me because Windfall is in a growing category of startups focused on mitigating today's climate problems, not just the ones down the road. While it is good for companies to focus on mitigating the long-term effects of climate change or trying to prevent future climate change events, we need solutions now.

He reminded me Convective Capital, a venture fund I've written about before is dedicated to wildfire tech. It is dedicated not to technology that helps prevent them, but to technology that helps society adapt to the effects of the now-increasing wildfires. Bill Clerico, the firm's founder, told TechCrunch in 2022 that while it's great to develop a long-term solution, it doesn't make sense if your home is at risk from a wildfire this summer.

Silverman said the market is still in the early stages of coming around to the potential benefits of investing in methane-reducing technology. But progress is good, and although he may be biased, Silverman is happy to see funding a climate company that isn't just another carbon credit startup. I agree with him there.

“It was a long road to get here, a lot of years of zero traction,” Silverman said. “Now that there's traction and there aren't as many people working in this area, there aren't as many competitors. We're the best of very few options. As I've said, 'In my country of the blind, the one-eyed.' is the king.'

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