When you think of “new technology,” what comes to mind might be shiny handheld devices or glossy vehicles. Behind those sleek products are a huge collection of components and materials, some smaller than the eye can see. These parts and pieces are why the technology can exist — and improving them could open up a new world of possibilities.

Avadain wants to be the door to that new world. Its green, patented technology creates high-quality flakes of graphene, a flexible but durable material that conducts electricity extremely well. We reached out to co-founder and CEO Brad Larschan to learn more about the applications of graphene and how he met his wife.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Funding Round Details

Avadain logo
Company: Avadain
Security Type: Equity - Common
Valuation: $27,968,305
Min Investment: $250
Platform: Netcapital
Deadline: Oct 26, 2023
View Deal

In your own words, how would you describe Avadain?

Avadain is a graphene technology licensing company. We have a green, globally patented platform technology to manufacture large, thin, and nearly defect-free (LTDF) graphene flakes. Starting later this year, we plan to license this technology to advanced materials manufacturers, graphene applications companies, and companies with a mission-critical need for high-quality graphene. We believe this is what it will take to unleash the graphene revolution. We have virtually zero competitors in our niche. 

Graphene is the lightest, thinnest, strongest, and best electrical and thermal conducting material ever discovered. Avadain’s graphene flakes can be used as an additive material which, when added to other products, confer amazing properties: strength, durability, flexibility, and conductivity.

Tens of billions of dollars of graphene-enabled, high-value products are waiting to enter the market. Today, companies are forced to work with suboptimal quality materials referred to as “graphene.” Some of these materials are small or tiny graphene flakes, while other materials are actually graphene oxide, nanoplatelets, carbon black, activated carbon, and even graphite.

Avadain’s superior LTDF graphene flakes, produced in industrial volumes at nominal cost, should meet the need of more than 80% of the multibillion dollar market for high-quality graphene flakes. 

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

In 2016, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics in Germany asked my opinion on the commercial viability of an exciting, new concept developed by their researchers. My team and I saw the immense possibilities for high-quality graphene and decided to back the technology together with Panasonic. By 2020, Fraunhofer had demonstrated that it could reliably produce high-quality graphene at a better than 70% yield in a lab-scale batch process. Together with Panasonic, we decided to form Avadain to upscale the technology to mass produce LTDF graphene flakes in industrial volumes at acceptable cost to address a $100 billion market for high-tech, high-value products enhanced with graphene.

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Our management team is solid and seasoned, and we’ve worked together on various projects for more than 20 years. The core members of the team are Brad Larschan (me); Ericka Wojack, our chief financial officer/chief operations officer; and Phil Van Wormer, our chief commercial officer.

Ericka and I have worked together since 1993, when we started a high-end catalog company with the Best of British goods personally endorsed by the Royal Family. We worked together well and have since gotten married. We’ve worked together on a number of startups, the last two of which were technology licensing companies.

We started working with Phil in 1999 to grow a technology company and later worked on several other projects together.

We’ve added to the team two highly skilled individuals as consultants. Dr. Sarah Roscher was the lead researcher at Fraunhofer who developed this technology. And Dr. William Grieco is a PhD chemical engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is making a big contribution to upscaling and patenting.

Why is graphene important to the world?

Graphene is one of the most disruptive materials ever discovered. Few people have heard of graphene today, but within three to four years, graphene will touch the lives of almost every American every day.

Graphene is 10 or fewer layers of hexagonal carbon. Used as an additive, a tiny amount of graphene can transform thousands of products as well as make possible a whole new generation of products. For example, adding 0.5% of Avadain’s graphene flakes (less than $10) to a supercapacitor’s electrodes enabled faster charging/discharging, 100% depth of discharge, and increased power density. It also enabled constant specific capacitance as the discharge current increased. In stark contrast, reduced graphene oxide and carbon black had declining specific capacitance. This is great news for the transportation (electric vehicles or EVs, hybrid vehicles, and electric trains), consumer electronics, and energy industries, which are increasingly relying on supercapacitors to improve performance. The benefits of our graphene extend over thousands of products across industries, including:

  • Flexible electronics: High-quality graphene flakes could be used to create flexible and transparent electronic devices — such as displays and solar cells — which could have a wide range of applications in healthcare, transportation, and wearable technology.
  • Aerospace and defense: Graphene flakes could be used to create lightweight and strong composites for use in aerospace and defense applications. The exceptional strength of graphene makes it an ideal material for use in aircraft and spacecraft structures as well as in body armor and other protective equipment.
  • Quantum computing: High-quality graphene flakes have been proposed as a promising material for use in quantum computing. The high mobility of electrons (100 times greater than silicon) in high-quality graphene makes it an ideal material for use in qubits, which are the basic building blocks of quantum computers.
  • Photonics: Graphene flakes have been proposed as a material for use in photonics. It has been demonstrated that light can be controlled and manipulated on a graphene flake with high precision and efficiency. This could enable a wide range of applications, such as ultra-fast data communication, high-resolution imaging, and sensing.
  • Biomedical devices: High-quality graphene flakes could be used to create implantable biomedical devices, such as biosensors and drug delivery systems. Graphene produced without toxic chemicals possesses biocompatibility, high conductivity, and flexibility, making it an ideal material for use in these types of applications.

How is Avadain transforming the graphene industry?

Avadain produces graphene by separating the atomic layers of graphite — the same material used as pencil lead. High-quality graphene has amazing properties. Among other things, Avadain’s high-quality graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and the best-known electrical conductor, with 1 million times the current density of copper and an intrinsic electron mobility that’s 100 times greater than silicon

Avadain has no known competitors. Thus, we are the only company with a technology capable of producing LTDF graphene flakes. That is why we are moving so quickly to license our technology and get tons of high-quality graphene flakes in the hands of industry.

We are well into the process of scaling our technology. Once this is completed, our high-quality graphene can be supplied to a wide swathe of industries.

What is your business model?

Avadain is pursuing a licensing revenue model to maximize profitability and minimize time to market. The core patent has already been granted in 12 countries (including the U.S.), and we are planning to file additional patent applications to protect our competitive position.

Licensing organizations typically have at least a 90% net margin. Avadain believes it can achieve this by licensing advanced material manufacturers, graphene applications companies, and companies with a mission-critical need for graphene, such as defense contractors and space companies. Licensees will receive a turnkey design for a production line, intellectual property rights, know-how, trade secrets, and implementation support.

The licensing model de-risks Avadain and allows us to rapidly and flexibly scale to meet the large, pent-up, and rapidly growing demand.

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

Avadain has no known direct competitors. There is, however, fierce competition for low-quality graphene.

Graphene’s fantastic strength and flexibility/bendability starts at 30 microns in lateral flake size — that is, the length of the flake. Moreover, as the German company Bosch found in a three-year study, the larger the flake size, the more efficient the electrical conductivity. As a result, Avadain believes the graphene market is segmented into low-quality graphene and high-quality graphene, based on lateral flake size.

The global market for low-quality graphene is increasingly crowded and supply significantly exceeds demand. According to The Graphene Council, there are some 300 companies manufacturing small-to-tiny graphene materials. The small flakes typically measure one to seven microns in lateral flake size. The tiny flakes are measured in nanometers and are often referred to as “nanoparticles.” At these small/tiny sizes, the material — when used as an additive — is brittle and has little or no mechanical strength.

Avadain is the only company we are aware of with a technology to manufacture flakes that average 50 microns in lateral flake size (up to 100 microns). Therefore, Avadain’s flakes possess all of graphene’s fantastic properties.

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

The graphene age is here. Avadain can play a pivotal role in commercializing this super material to drive the megatrend for the use of high-quality graphene in a $100 billion product market.

We’ve come a long way since this technology was first developed. Panasonic has been backing our technology since 2017. It has a representative on our board and is active in decision-making. Avadain’s technology has attracted $7.6 million in dilutive and non-dilutive funding.

We are scaling our technology to mass production to fulfill the promise and potential of high-quality graphene. Our graphene can help create another industrial revolution — one that makes the world a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous place.

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

We expect to rapidly license our technology to meet the pent-up and anticipated explosive demand for high-quality graphene flakes. Following a licensing business model, we aim to keep our costs very low in comparison with revenue generation. Avadain could be an attractive acquisition target once we reach 10 licensees in the 2026 to 2028 timeframe, and we believe our value will increase substantially as we add additional licensees.

In 10 years, we envision Avadain’s graphene flakes incorporated into thousands of products. The lives of virtually all Americans will be made better because of our graphene flakes. 

We look forward to seeing where Brad and his team take the company. Avadain is currently raising on Netcapital.