If you think it’s frustrating trying to get that last drop of ketchup out of the bottle, or toothpaste out of the tube, imagine having to waste and clean valuable and sticky substances from pipes or tanks in a factory.
A startup called LiquiGlide has raised $16 million in a new round of venture funding to bring its patented slippery coatings to manufacturers around the world. Co-founded by CEO J. David Smith and Chairman of the Board Kripa Varanasi, LiquiGlide is an MIT spinout that made its debut at the school’s business plan competition the MIT 100k in 2012.
Smith explained here’s how the company’s coatings work:
“Think about putting oil in a frying pan. It’s a great lubricant. But oil wears off over time and can get into your food. This is a permanent, liquid impregnated surface. We lay down a textured solid layer, something like a thin sponge, that traps liquid there through strong capillary force. Then, whatever you want to slide on top of that can move around because the liquid is mobile.”
LiquiGlide’s proprietary formula consists of flavorless, odorless and already FDA-approved ingredients, Smith said. The coating does not interfere with recycling. The CEO said, “Eliminating the need to wash out a container improves the chances that someone will recycle it. And clean materials are easier to recycle, so we can improve the sustainability of packaging overall.”
TechCrunch asked Smith if LiquiGlide employees use the coating to make anything for their own fun, like lightning-fast snowboards or a ridiculously effective Slip-N-Slide. The CEO said not yet, but the Cambridge, Mass.-based startup has been inundated with inbound requests from students, inventors and businesses that want to use the coating in a wide range of applications.
Staying focused is a challenge, he admits. But investors expect LiquiGlide to use its funding for hiring as needed, and to focus on “packaging and tanks,” i.e. companies that make consumer packaged goods and packaging, or businesses that make industrial tanks or require their use.
Investors in LiquiGlide’s new round included: Structure Capital, Valia Investments, Struck Capital, Pilot Grove and others who Smith did not have permission to name. The funding brings the company’s total equity raised to $25 million to-date. Its last round of $7 million was led by Roadmap Capital.
Managing Partner at Structure Capital, Jillian Manus, said: “We brand ourselves as the ‘architects of the zero waste economy.’ And LiquiGlide is like a poster child for us in a lot of ways. It represents the entire thesis here because this helps reduce wasted water, solvents, energy, product and packaging.” She said the company is facing a massive, and immediate, global market opportunity with urgent interest from automakers in both the US and China.
While Smith did not have permission to name all of the corporations that are testing or using LiquiGlide’s coatings in their packaging or equipment already, the company previously announced deals to work with Norwegian packaged goods conglomerate Orkla, Elmers the glue makers, and the Pact Group in Australia, a major packaging maker there.