A Pursuit SBA PPP Loan Helps Folia Materials in a Changing World
Folia Materials cofounders and scientists Theresa Dankovich, Ph.D., and Jonathan Levine, Ph.D., have created many inventions and products. But none of their creations is as important as their newborn son, Maxwell, who was born at the peak of New York’s COVID outbreak in the safety of her hometown, Syracuse. While in Syracuse, they learned about a financial lifeline for their business: Pursuit, which helped them obtain a Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to keep their business on course.
Finding solutions to critical challenges
The husband-and-wife cofounders created Folia when Teri’s Ph.D. invention of a paper that can make dirty, fresh water into clean, safe drinking water became world famous. Their anti-microbial Folia Water Filter is now for sale in Bangladesh in a partnership with Unilever.
Their patented process can make more than water purifiers: The same process can make products like face masks anti-viral or anti-bacterial by integrating silver and copper particles into sustainably-sourced and recyclable paper. As early as February, their Brooklyn-based team discussed selling their anti-microbial paper to face-mask manufacturers.
The Folia team is working with leading technology, green manufacturing and business-development organizations, including Kodak, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) and the New York Manufacturing Corps (the clean-tech startup program of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA).
“We have amazing support through our research and development partnerships across New York State,” explains Jonathan.
Finding opportunity: Expanding to healthcare and packaging
The COVID pandemic created a sudden and rapid need for anti-viral and anti-microbial materials to keep surfaces germ-free. Folia is focusing on face masks as the first healthcare product because of how important face masks and other PPE are to protect healthcare workers and others.
“We don’t make antiviral PPE,” explains Jonathan. “We make PPE antiviral.”
Folia’s patented anti-viral paper is made by coating immense paper rolls at paper and coating facilities in New York State or elsewhere along the East Coast. Rolls of Folia’s paper are then sent to manufacturers who turn it into face masks or tape for high-touch surfaces in hospitals and other medical settings.
Folia’s PPE-related products and processes are undergoing final required approvals by the Food & Drug Administration (or FDA), the federal agency that oversees the safety and quality of numerous products, including PPE for use in medical, environmental and other high-exposure settings.
The paper has a myriad of other uses in a variety of industries as businesses reopen. For example, restaurants can use it for take-out packaging, for disposable menus and placemats and more.
Finding a funder who could help: Pursuit
With a patented process and sought-after product, you wouldn’t think that Folia would have a hard time getting a PPP loan to see them through as the pandemic took off.
Still, they hit roadblocks. “After several tries, we still couldn’t secure funding and we were on the brink of giving up,” Jonathan says.
Fortunately, he saw an article in the Syracuse Post Standard that changed everything. The article, headlined, “Small Businesses: If You Were Shut Out of PPP Loans by Your Lender, Try This One,” directed small business owners to Pursuit.
They applied online and just days later, Folia received approval on a PPP loan through Pursuit.
“The process was so easy and positive that I immediately recommended Pursuit to another company – and they got funded, too,” Jonathan says. “Pursuit’s really driven to help small businesses – and they come through.”
Finding ways to make the world better
“Now, we’ve got the financial stability needed to focus on new opportunities,” Jonathan says, “and we’re busier than ever. Our team’s excited to have a positive impact on healthcare and other industries as we grow.”
He believes that the current crisis has already led to a reconsideration of manufacturing in the U.S. and will reinvigorate areas like upstate New York that have historically specialized in manufacturing. “People recognize the need for high-quality products and secure supply chains. The Folia team would be thrilled to be a part of that domestic manufacturing resurgence,” he explains.
Jonathan has advice for other small business owners, saying, “If you need funding for your business, try Pursuit. Even if – or especially if – you’ve heard the stories about how hard it is to get PPP funds, go to Pursuit. They’re in this to help small businesses and can make it happen.”
From brewer’s waste upcycling to urban e-biking, the new M-Corps cohort is building a cleaner future, and tackling carbon emissions, from many angles covers more ground as we seek to reduce carbon emissions. Not only are these founders building companies, they’re also allies and mentors for each other during the program. Check out the new M-Corps cohort as well as the class from 2018-2019.
SecondMuse is looking for six cleantech startups who are paving the way for a more sustainable future, especially those with strong teams and products who need assistance scaling up to manufacturing. Applications are open through Sept 9.
In January, SecondMuse continued its newest series of hardware startup support. This session focused on Supply Chain Strategy at New Lab in Brooklyn Navy Yard. NYCEDC’s Stacey Weismiller and Inventaprint’s Rich Mokuolu lead attendees through an essential presentation on sourcing and production.