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Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Feb 15, 2021

If you’ve ever heard of Bolt Threads, you may know them as one of the OGs in the space of growing animal products without animals. After all, since they were founded way back in 2009 they’ve been creating spider silk via synthetic biology and fermentation.

But the company’s headlines these days typically don’t relate to spider silk at all, even though it’s still an important part of the company. In a turn of events that they’d never have predicted at the outset of their startup, Bolt Threads has dove headfirst into growing mycelium (root-like threads of fungi) that can be harvested within days and turned into eco-friendly leather alternatives. 


The result? Bolt Threads recently inked a deal with Adidas to commercialize its mycelium leather with the first shoes hitting the market in 2021.

What was started as a project more than a decade ago by some students who applied for government grants is now a VC-backed startup that’s raised more than $200 million, has celebrity endorsements, and is on the verge of entering its first major commercialization 11 years later. It’s a wild ride they’ve been on, and Bolt Threads co-founder David Breslauer has some important insights for anyone seeking to use business to solve social problems. 

Discussed in this episode

About David Breslauer

David Breslauer is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Bolt Threads. He leads technology innovation at Bolt, creating and incubating biomaterials for improved consumer products. His obsession with biomaterials began with graduate research on silk during his Bioengineering Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and UCSF. David has an orange belt in Krav Maga and is a great admirer of stencil graffiti.