Genetic engineering of plants
San Francisco, CA
This is a Title III deal, which means that all investors — regardless of net worth or income — can invest.
Taxa is a biotech company that enables cheaper, faster, and better genetic engineering of plants.
It offers its platform as a service to other companies, and it uses it internally to develop its own engineered plants.
The TAXA platform has been specifically designed to enable anyone to perform metabolic engineering of plants without stepping into a lab. It provides access to protein engineering, DNA assembly, transient experiments and stable transformation as a service.
Anything “Powered by TAXA” is designed to be free from expensive regulatory approval, meaning the products are available for sale or distribution to consumers in the United States immediately after they are developed.
A few of its products in development include:
– A blue-colored rose
– Ever-blooming flowers
– Mosquito-repelling ivy
– Fast-growing lettuce
It is in exploration for other products including:
– A caffeinated apple
– Vitamin D enhanced greens
– Fast-growing trees
– Trees as streetlights
– Lab-grown meats
– Self-fertilizing plants
It makes money in two ways:
1. Selling consumer products, where margins are 80-90%
2. Partnering with large companies who contract the company for research and development. Partners pay a 50% royalty fee.
Its first product is a Glowing Plant, which was the first Kickstarter for a synthetic biology application. It earned the company more than $600,000 in pre-orders. It is also close to shipping a Fragrant Moss.
Genetic engineering is among the most powerful technologies the human race has ever created, so everyone should have access to it. When powerful technologies are only available to those with power, they get used in ways the masses don’t want. The company’s goal is to put biotechnology in the hands of everyone, starting at the consumer level.
The company was founded just before its successful Kickstarter campaign to make a Glowing Plant in April 2013.
The crowdfunding campaign was a success, exceeding its goals by more than 700%. This gave the company the opportunity, with backer’s support, to not just make a glowing plant by simply inserting the right genes, but to go beyond and also improve the luminosity as much as possible.
As with many things in synthetic biology, the key to improving the luminosity of the plant was to develop the infrastructure to design, assemble and test a large number of different DNA constructs in order to find the version which gives the greatest luminosity. It’s this infrastructure which evolved into the TAXA platform.
The company was the very first biotech investment by the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program. As Sam Altman, YComb’s President said, “The glowing plant might look like a novelty, but it turns out that the next big thing always gets dismissed initially as a toy. There’s a long history of interesting companies being born right at the point in time where emerging exponential technologies become accessible to hobbyists, as is happening right now with synthetic biology. The progression is from toys to useful products to industrial mega-applications.”
The company has generated widespread media coverage including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Nature, BBC, CNN, TechCrunch & Washington Post.
Antony Evans – Founder & CEO
Antony focuses on the non-technical aspects of the business including business development, marketing, fundraising, external communication and regulation.
He has an MBA with Distinction from INSEAD, a Masters in Math from the University of Cambridge, and is a graduate of Singularity University’s GSP program. He is both a Louis Frank and Oppidan scholar.
He worked previously as a management consultant and project manager at Oliver Wyman and Bain & Company.
Prior to TAXA he lead the Glowing Plant Kickstarter campaign, led product development for the world’s first pure mobile microfinance bank in the Philippines, and launched a mobile app in partnership with Harvard Medical School that has over 250,000 downloads.
Jihyun Moon – Chief Scientific Officer
Jihyun leads the plant research for Taxa.
Her training in plant biology started as an undergraduate researcher in a lab studying flowering time control in Arabidopsis.
After receiving her BS and MS from Seoul National University in Korea, she continued her studies at University of California, Berkeley where she was awarded a PhD in Plant Biology.
Her area of research expertise includes leaf development, anther development and meiosis in Zea mays.
Dr Jamey Kain – Molecular Biologist
Jamey is a molecular biologist with a BA from UC Berkeley and a PhD and post-doc from Harvard.
He leads the company’s protein engineering and other microbial work.
His work has covered a range of topics: micronutrient deficiency, sporulation in bacteria as a model of cellular development, fruit fly personality, and clinical molecular diagnostics.
Fast Company has called YC “the world’s most powerful start-up incubator.” Its portfolio includes Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe.
Zillionize Seed Fund
Micro venture capital that does Seed Investments. Previous investments in Cruise, Mailgun, Leadgenius, Meta.