MicroGreen Polymers, a spin out from the University of Washington that’s developing technologies to convert water bottles into durable and lightweight plastic cups, trays and other foodservice containers, has raised $5 million from the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians. The tribe also has agreed to use MicroGreen’s environmentally-friendly cups and trays at its Angel of the Winds Casino and other businesses.
It marks the first closing of what is anticipated to be a $20 million round for the Arlington-based startup, co-founded by former UW researcher Krishna Nadella who won second place in the university’s business plan competition in 2002.
“Our sustainability ethos resonated with the Stillaguamish Tribe, and while we have investment from venture capital and corporate strategic funds such as Waste Management and WRF Capital, we have refocused our funding efforts toward other like-minded Tribes,” said MicroGreen CEO Tom Malone in a release.
The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians first started out as a potential customer, but the tribe quickly discovered the value of the InCycle technology.
“MicroGreen has a breakthrough technology with fantastic traction across a number of packaging applications” said Koran Andrews, CEO of the Stillaguamish Tribal Enterprise Corporation.. “They are truly an innovative player in packaging; reducing waste while lowering cost and improving product performance. We see a huge opportunity for growth both in supplying Native American owned casinos and convenience stores as well as broadly across the economy.”
The Stillaguamish Tribe and MicroGreen are both based in Arlington, where MicroGreen plans a rapid expansion of its workforce in the coming months. The Herald reports that MicroGreen could add as many as 200 employees this year at its facility where it can convert 20 million pounds of PET per year. MicroGreen currently employs 48, and it has raised $27.7 million to date, including equipment financing and convertible debt.
“We will hire as revenue is realized, so assuming that we hit forecast we will need to add two shifts by the end of the year,” Malone said.