Molly on stage during her pitch at the 2012 Deciding Round. Photo by Roy Beusker
BLOGPOST, Wednesday August 28th 2013, by Molly Morse
I feel that the phrase commonly used to describe parenthood fits equally well to the life of a start-up company: the days seem so long but the years seem so short. In some ways it seems like just yesterday we found out Mango Materials won the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. On one hand, I vividly remember repeatedly practicing my 10-minute pitch in front of the Amsterdam hotel bathroom mirror and going over key talking points with my team members at odd hours of the night. However, in other ways the 2012 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge seems like it was ages ago. When I think of where we were as a company – how many employees we had, what technical milestones we were striving to meet and what our biggest obstacles where – the events of last year feel like they were from a different era.
In the past year a lot has happened – we have spoken at numerous conferences and events, hired new people, bought new equipment and supplies, formed new partnerships and dreamed of even more ways our bioplastic could positively impact the world around us. Aside from the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, Mango Materials was also awarded a $500K Phase II award from the USA National Science Foundation. We have used this funding to scale-up and in mid-August completed our first bioplastic production run in our new, larger lab space with our newly assembled bioreactor system. All this work has required a lot of effort from our entire team, and our headcount has grown tremendously. In the past 10 months over 25 people have been affiliated with Mango Materials in one capacity or another – trust me, I know – that's a lot of paperwork! From long-term permanent employees to temporary high school summer interns, many people's lives have been altered from the work we are trying to do.
Winning the Green Challenge will always be a special memory for me. It was the moment when I knew we finally had the opportunity to really tackle the challenge of global warming and plastics in the environment. The days are still long, but they are full of purpose and passion. I know we will blink and another year will have gone by – I can't wait to see where we are at that point! I am extremely excited to go back to Amsterdam next month to support all the finalists and live vicariously through them – best wishes to everyone!