INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (August 31, 2020) – In the height of a global pandemic that eliminated in-person pitches to potential investors, MITO Materials CEO and Co-founder Haley Marie Keith has achieved the impossible, oversubscribing the $500,000 seed investment round in her advanced materials technology startup by a multiplier of two. With six investors including VisionTech Angels joining force, MITO Materials closed the round with more than $1 million raised. Fifteen VisionTech Angels members invested a total of $157,500.
Joining VisionTech Angels in the round are HG Ventures and Elevate Ventures, Indianapolis; round leaders Dipalo Ventures and Clean Energy Trust, Chicago; and CavAngels of Virginia. When the round closes, the National Science Foundation offers a two-to-one match, potentially bringing the raise up to $1.5 million.
Keith wasn’t sure what to expect when COVID-19 sparked a global economic lockdown on March 13. “We were scheduled to do in-person pitches, including VisionTech Angels’ five-city pitch week in late April, when everything was literally shut down. Fortunately, the investor groups quickly moved their pitch events online. It was hard presenting virtually and fielding questions from 60-plus investors. We had no idea if investors would have a stomach to put money in a startup in the middle of an economic shutdown, but VisionTech’s members surprised us by investing far more than anticipated.”
MITO Materials develops and produces chemical additives for manufacturers seeking superior performance, flexibility, and durability in polymer composite products. The company’s flagship graphene product enhances toughness up to 60 percent and increases glass transition temperatures in coatings, sealants, fiber-reinforced thermoplastics, and other materials. These attributes are important to industries like aerospace, automotive, freight trailers, recreational vehicles, and wind turbines that want to lightweight products without sacrificing performance. Light-weighting reduces fuel consumption, which in turn reduces carbon emissions.
VisionTech Angels Executive Director Ben Pidgeon has two reasons to celebrate his group’s investment in MITO Materials. “This was our first virtual pitch event and I had no idea what to expect from our group, which is spread across five cities in two states. Nearly 70 VisionTech Angels participated in Haley’s pitch and 25 liked what they heard, advancing the deal to due diligence. Ultimately, 15 of our angels invested.”.”
Keith says investors were swayed by the uniqueness of MITO Materials’ technology and the company’s ability to scale and bring customers on board. Currently, MITO Materials is completing a pilot program with a major Indiana-based freight-related manufacturer that wants to transition from metal framing to composite materials. Other customers are in the pipeline.
Funds from the seed investment round will be used to scale MITO Materials’ manufacturing operations with Monument Chemical as well as ramp up sales and marketing efforts. Funds will also help prepare for its Series A round, which is anticipated in the next 18 months.
MITO Materials was founded in Stillwater, Oklahoma, using technology developed at Oklahoma State University. The company relocated its headquarters to Indianapolis to be closer to potential customers and the Midwest’s growing capital market.