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Create GLOWING PLANTS using synthetic biology and Genome Compiler's software - the first step in creating sustainable natural lighting
Create GLOWING PLANTS using synthetic biology and Genome Compiler's software - the first step in creating sustainable natural lighting
Create GLOWING PLANTS using synthetic biology and Genome Compiler's software - the first step in creating sustainable natural lighting
8,433 backers pledged $484,013 to help bring this project to life.

Help us Build Momentum on WeFunder

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Despite the early technical issues on Monday our WeFunder campaign got off to a great start – in fact we hit $65k faster than with our Kickstarter. However, we still have a long way to go and need to build momentum. 

We’ve heard from many of you that it’s a tough ask to hand over more money when we haven’t delivered on our earlier promises. I understand where you are coming from and this has certainly been tougher than we anticipated. It might feel like we’ve been nine months away from shipping for two years now, but we’ve been consistently making progress and beating challenges. However, our work has been a major technical challenge. Nobody has ever optimized a six gene pathway before in plants, and we’ve made enormous progress. Today, we have the beginning of a Design-Build-Test process working in plants – which is what we need to make this work. 

We could have given up when Kyle quit or after any other challenge we’ve faced. There was a moment in February this year when the bombardments didn’t work when we seriously considered it. But we aren’t giving in to that temptation or to taking the easy road and we will continue to press on. 

So why haven’t we given up? 

It’s your support – not just the trust we have looking after your backing, but also all the supportive emails and messages from people encouraging us after we hit setbacks – this has pushed us through the setbacks. 

We believe in this project for two reasons. First, there’s an urgent need to move to a ‘circular’ economy, one in which we make the resources we need and don’t just selfishly extract them from the earth: biology is the ultimate sustainable technology and engineering biology is the best bet we have to create such a circular economy. Second, the technology needed to achieve that objective is within our reach and is advancing faster than any other technology in history. 

The need to address climate change is stronger than ever, and all of our experience in the last three years has supported the advancement of this technology: we’ve seen Twist offer DNA at 10c a base pair, the discovery of CRISPR and the launch of services like Transcriptic. And we’re so close to completing a Glowing Plant. We’ve made massive progress thanks to your contributions – we’ve shipped Fluc v1 of the Glowing Plant, the lowest cost GMO ever commercially sold, and we’ve shipped beta versions of the maker kit, enabling high school students to genetically engineer plants for the first time. 

After we launched the campaign and landed in the cross-fires of the anti-GMO brigade we discovered something else: the greatest threat to the adoption of new technology is resistance from the doubtful and discouraged. This is not us. As I engaged with policy makers, ecologists and other experts in Washington at academic conferences, nobody has a strategy for how to deal with this resistance. We do. We can make engineered plant products that people want, and that they can aspire towards. We can make products which are better for the environment, and perhaps most importantly we can share the economic upside through distributing equity. Our goals have created a distributed network of engaged consumers and shareholders who can tell the story of why we need this. That’s what Glowing Plants or Fragrant Moss will do. 

So where do we go from here? 

As we mentioned in our February update we do not currently have enough financial runway to complete the Glowing Plant. If we do not reach our fundraising goals, our dreams will fail. 

When we reach our goals, we have the opportunity to build the company that defines this industry in the way Apple defined PC’s or Facebook defined social media. The odds against us are great, but I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think we had a shot at doing that.

Equity investing in early stage startups is a new thing for most of you: it’s only been legal for five days. Here’s how I think about it: early stage investments are all about risk vs reward, there’s a small chance of a very big return (100x or even 1000x). By getting in at the start there’s a ton of potential upside, but also a lot that can go wrong and it could take a long time to get liquidity or a return. With that return profile you shouldn’t invest just for the returns, invest because you believe in our why and our vision, because you’ll learn something and remember you should never invest more than you can afford to lose. 

An investment like this shouldn’t be an impulse purchase, consider all the materials being provided, watch the video, ask questions if you don’t understand or agree with something and discuss with your partner or anyone else you need to. Momentum matters for public crowdfunding like this though, and right now we don’t have it, so if you are thinking of backing us it makes a big difference when people come in early so please consider over the weekend (and thank you to those amazing people who already backed us). Also know that this an all-or-nothing campaign so there’s nothing at risk if we don’t hit the target and whether we hit the target or not you can change your mind and cancel 48 hours before the campaign ends with no penalty (you'll get 5 days notice before it closes). 

So if after reading all this you are still interested, please Back our Campaign Today 

If you have questions/comments please ask them either in the comments below, on WeFunder (www.wefunder.com/taxa/questions) or via email/kickstarter messages. 

We’ve all in on this. We’re can get there. Thank you for your support. 

Antony & the TAXA team 

Comments

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    1. Antony Evans Creator on June 1, 2016

      Wilson: We did, because we completed the last technical step with the moss. You can read all about the details here: https://updates.wefunder.com/fragrant-moss-passes-final-technical-milestone-5a0aa47e5c#.v0okxilhp

    2. Wilson Wong on June 1, 2016

      You guys updated the rewards section on wefunder :D

    3. Antony Evans Creator on May 30, 2016

      Josh/June: We also raised an angel round from investors so the total funding is double that.

    4. Josh Wright & June Lai on May 30, 2016

      Hi Antony, So the two of you have been working on this full time since 2013? Does that mean that $300,000 of the $484,013 went to salaries? I am actually a bit surprised you used any of the Kickstarter money for salaries.

    5. Jayson on May 29, 2016

      Keep powering on Antony, I got your back!

    6. Antony Evans Creator on May 25, 2016

      Josh/June: My salary and that of the senior scientists has been $50,000 a year. If you know the cost of living in San Francisco you'll know that doesn't leave much for savings. We are doing everything we can to get this finished and rewards sent out, including this fundraising campaign and taking on consulting projects to bring in other revenue to keep going.

    7. Josh Wright & June Lai on May 25, 2016

      So.... you are or are not going to deliver the kickstarter rewards for this project? How much of the $484,013 dollars has gone into salaries to Antony and his team? I would say they need to start putting their money back into this company and figure out a solution to deliver the rewards.

    8. Antony Evans Creator on May 24, 2016

      Clay: our intention is to keep working on this to try to get the seeds to you as planned. We do think we are at the last technical step, we have a working construct it just seems to be too big to insert with our gene gun co-bomb bardment stratetgy. We are trying a new selection agent which we don't have to out-cross and if that doesn't work will try 'stacking' the genes into to pieces that we can then cross later.

    9. Clay DeGruchy on May 24, 2016

      What is the intention for the current backers who do not back this new project? Will any of the backing rewards be seen at some point?

    10. Missing avatar

      Alex Kenjeev on May 23, 2016

      I also appreciate the updates but I think people are being a bit too accommodating here.

      Guys, YOU were the ones with the expertise that allowed YOU to estimate how long it would take YOU, and how much funding YOU would need, to deliver what YOU said you would. Everyone in this comment thread seems to be bending over backwards to say a variation of "well I don't understand the technical aspects of this, but bravo to you, since you do." I think that misses the point. Of course you're the ones who are supposed to understand. We are just consumers. I don't think that lets you off the hook -- quite the opposite, in fact.

      Now, you are asking for an equity investment, but you have not shown a track record of delivering on what you said you would. We have all been waiting 2 years, and for 2 years we've been hearing about how it's "right around the corner". What assurance will your investors have that you don't continue your habit of overpromising and underdelivering?

      I have invested in several companies that began on Kickstarter. They all had one thing in common, namely: they delivered. And THEN, after doing that, they went to raise money.

      I love this idea and I'd love to invest in the idea. But how can I justify giving money to people who took my money once already and delivered exactly nothing in two years?

    11. J B on May 23, 2016

      Completely agreed with Brian. The delays and technical hurdles that you've faced don't concern me. I rather enjoy having been some small part of a very significant advance in technology, and the regular updates that provide transparency also give me confidence that Taxa will overcome the hurdles and ultimately be successful. Frankly, I would love to invest in Taxa, to continue to support and enable the company as well as to have the opportunity to benefit from future valuation. But... I have no reason to invest (and won't) via WeFunder, since I'd not be investing in Taxa, but rather in a fund managed by WeFunder that *will* be sold at a time that is completely out of my control. It's almost worse than contributing via Kickstarter, where at least the KS was an investment in the idea amd team; with WF it's puts it pretty squarely in the realm of financial speculation.
      In short, if I could invest in true fractional ownership of Taxa, I'd jump in. But WeFunder isn't that.

    12. Ian Chamberlin on May 21, 2016

      'beiieve IN the product' that is the the production of the glowing plant. That didn't come out quite right. lol

    13. Ian Chamberlin on May 21, 2016

      I actually would love to invest in this, but sadly I haven't the money for it at the moment. You all clearly believe the product, and what you're doing is frankly pretty cool. More importantly, I think you could be trusted with more money.

      Good luck! Here's hoping you get it. I wish I could give some more, but eh...too much stuff to pay for at the moment.

    14. Andy Lakatos on May 21, 2016

      I'm glad you stand behind it. I actually want you to succeed if your truly working on this. As a business owner I guess I would just not put more money forward as I disagree with the judgement, but I hope you do suceed. At some point you just have to accountable for people's money. I hope you make it happen and come through for everyone in the end as that's the most important thing and good luck with your research.

    15. Antony Evans Creator on May 20, 2016

      Brian: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree in retrospect this was probably too technically challenging for a Kickstarter, I don't think we anticipated so many hurdles - every single step has had some way it was more complicated than we anticipated - I never imagined it would take so long to make a single full construct. That's one reason we started working on the fragrant moss in parallel - it's just one gene and would have been a better first product.

      I've asked WeFunder about the IRA issue and they said you can use an existing IRA provider if they are willing to do it.

      Regarding the repurchase rights, they are in there because of the SEC reporting requirements which kick in when we get $25MM in assets. These are very expensive to comply with and will be a barrier to future VC investment if we go that route. There's a bill in congress, the Fix Crowdfunding Act, which will allow SPV structures for these kinds of investments and that clause is in there to allow the conversion into the SPV. It will not be used under any circumstances to force a repurchase below market value.

    16. Brian Roush on May 20, 2016

      Antony, this was the first Kickstarter I ever backed, and I didn't understand that the glowing plant still required this much work to produce. I've enjoyed reading the updates, even if I didn't understand most of the technical challenges you guys have faced. I think you most recent update really highlights something that myself and many others didn't - that this project aimed to accomplish something several orders of maginitude more difficult than similar projects. I think if people had understood more about "engineering a six gene pathway" they wouldn't have viewed this as something so simple. The campaign really didn't mention this complexity as a risk of this level. What was presented was prior work, of glowing bacteria, glowing plants, and that all that was missing was to print the necessary genes and insert them into a plant using known methods. Thebarrier seemed more to be the cost, not complexity or uncertainty of process.

      Many Kickstarters appear to be technologically simple, but just novel in such a way that the outcome isn't difficult, just too expensive for a small group of people to put up the money to do. Thus, Kickstarter seems the perfect vehicle to gather all those interested in that niche and then fund it to make it happen. That's the impression I had of this project at its outset. Never did I think that after 2 years and nearly 10x over-funded would it have a chance to fail.

      All criticism and hindsight aside, I feel that you've approached the project since funding in a spectacular way. You've been very regular with updates, extremely transparent, and very diplomatic to all backers' concerns during these trials. We have seen progress and I do feel like you guys are getting close to the final goal. Maybe the glowing plant was too ambitious for the first project/product, but I don't feel in any way that we've been scammed.

      As to the WeFunder campaign, I will likely invest, but I have two reservations. First, it's not clear how (or if) average people can use vehicles like self-directed IRAs to invest in your company. I know there's an option to create a new one, but it has high yearly costs, and wouldn't allow me to use existing funds I already have set aside. Secondly, The way the SAFE contract reads, I as a small investor have no control over when my stake is sold. You as the company can buy me out at any time and for any price, and once a valuation is made, it's not up to me when my investment is sold. So, we are at everyone else's mercy as to when to sell, and that's somewhat unsettling - especially if we are investing to be a long-term partner/supporter. We could be bought out before any IPO or shortly after rather than getting to see our investment continue to (hopefully) gain value. Maybe I have that wrong, but it just seems like even if things went great, we could be bought out/sold when we double our money while the traditional (qualified) investors get to then ride the investment as it increase five or tenfold leading up to an acquisition or IPO. If I'm missing something, please set me straight.

    17. Antony Evans Creator on May 20, 2016

      James: Thanks for your support.

    18. Antony Evans Creator on May 20, 2016

      Andy: this isn't a con and we've tried to be very clear and transparent with the challenges we've faced. As I said above this has just been a difficult technical problem, you are welcome to come and visit our lab and see what we've been doing and the progress we have made if you like.

    19. James Mastrocovo on May 20, 2016

      Thanks guys, I have backed tons of Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing sites before and you guys have one of the most consistent and detailed updates. Appreciate all the really hard work you guys are doing. As for everyone else who thinks this isn't insanely time consuming work, please check out any kind of analysis laboratory! This kind of work doesn't EVER produce perfect or even reliable results! Anyway, sorry for the rant, even though I may not know what I'm talking about I appreciate the effort you guys have done so far. Thanks for the update!

    20. Andy Lakatos on May 20, 2016

      Not a chance, In the world of business a 2 year delay and your asking for money. There is no excuse for that and I would be more likely to call this a con knowing there has been past donations. I hope that the people on the other crowdfunding site are aware of the current progress.