Paul LaPorte, CEO of MF Fire, took over the company’s leadership after starting as an advisor to the initial founders. He tells us more about the company’s new product, Fire MAPS, which will help fire stove owners limit their greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and potentially reduce their wood consumption.

Funding Round Details

MF Fire logo
Company: MF Fire
Security Type: Equity - Common
Valuation: $17,962,821
Min Investment: $398
Platform: StartEngine
Deadline: Mar 6, 2024
View Deal

In your own words, how would you describe your company?

MF Fire is a technology company with deep domain expertise in fire science and engineering. We are transforming wood heat into clean energy by eliminating harmful and unnecessary emissions on both new and older wood stoves. We utilize our patented IP to design and manufacture beautiful wood stoves that are clean and highly efficient, easier to use, and safer. We also develop innovative, tech-centric solutions that work with wood stoves to eliminate emissions using automation, AI, real-time sensors, and intuitive controls on your mobile device.

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

It is an interesting time to be in our space. Our industry had been stagnant for many decades before our arrival. There was little innovation and no breakthroughs, but a looming set of regulatory changes was set to upheave the industry. In 2020, strict new EPA emission regulations cut allowable emissions by more than 50%. Most competitors failed that year, creating an imbalance in supply & demand. We foresaw this in 2014 when the company was formed and diligently worked to be in the right place at the right time to capitalize on this EPA event. We were well positioned, growing rapidly leading up to and through that event, growth that has continued to this day.

Most wood stove manufacturers do not have a core capability in the underlying science of wood combustion. This makes it difficult for them to innovate through seismic events like big EPA changes, or to look over the horizon at and plan for disruptive events that will come next. We believe we are unique in fire science innovation and leveraging emerging technologies to solve difficult challenges – these are core elements of our DNA. And these are the cornerstones of how we differentiate ourselves. Through fire science and technology, we introduce disruptive solutions in the form of automated wood stoves, real-time fire monitoring, user guidance throughout a fire, and incorporate AI to help maximize performance and efficiency. While most competitors are focused on slight design changes to squeeze out incremental gains, we are focused on big changes that ultimately help us transform wood heat into clean energy.

What has been your traction in 2023?

FY2023 was a fantastic year for us, with continued rapid growth in terms of reported revenue and units shipped. The industry as a whole has seen a correction this year as more people have returned back to the office, and the economy and interest rates have slowed purchasing from a very strong past 3-5 years. While we believe our FY2024 (April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024) results will increase and grow YOY, we cannot predict final results. We picked up a new Canadian national distributor earlier this year, adding to our growth and presence in Canada. We recently completed a partnership and received an initial purchase from a new, large brand in the US. We are in the prime selling season for wood stoves and look forward to the rest of the winter season.

Which data points show you that there is a demand for a product such as Fire MAPS?

We start with the installed base of wood stoves in target markets – over 100 million in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. People everywhere love wood heat – approximately half a billion get some or all their heat from wood. This is our Total Addressable Market (TAM) – 100 million households burning wood, creating emissions, wanting more efficiency and savings, and needing help getting maximum performance from their stoves.

All the governments in these countries support wood heat but are faced with growing pressures to reduce wood heat emissions, which is a prime contributor to overall particulate emissions. Fire MAPS is a solution that benefits everyone, from consumers to air quality groups to national governments, and can be sold directly to consumers or through various government-funded programs.

As background, Fire MAPS is a new kind of solution for wood stoves. We developed it through the support of a large US Department of Energy grant we were awarded. It is designed to significantly reduce real-world wood stove emissions while delivering efficiency and savings gains. It can be added to any wood stove, new or installed, anywhere in the world. Based on the positive impact shown in customer trials, it has strong efficacy – it can make a real difference.

We recruited unpaid consumers to beta-test our solution in their homes. The trial was originally slated to last for 30 days. More than 18 months later, we still have consumers relying on and using Fire MAPS – a strong testament to its ‘stickiness’ and ongoing value. We saw an average of ~20% total reduction in emissions across all users, with up to 50% for individual users.

Based on the trial results, the extremely large wood stove installed base, and the driving need for emissions reduction, we believe this product will have a wonderful market.

What is your go-to-market strategy for Fire MAPS?

Fire MAPS is a complementary product to the stoves we sell, so we can market Fire MAPS initially through the same sales channels we support today: over 200 retailers, multiple distributors, online e-tailers, and direct-to-consumers. However, the opportunity extends way beyond our current channels as it can be sold and used in conjunction with other brands of wood stoves, as well as a retrofit product for wood stoves already in use. This means we have the opportunity to expand into many additional sales outlets: more specialty hearth retailers, chimney sweeps and installers, potentially select big box retailers (think about how you now see programmable and smart thermostats for HVAC at Home Depot or Lowes), and most significantly, for use in government programs such as those supporting J40 initiatives or that solve specific wood emissions problems in areas like Fairbanks or Denver.

With data validation from our DOE projects, we envision also selling through utility companies on a similar program as programable and smart thermostats – where the devices are highly subsidized through government funding and utility green and carbon credit programs. These program opportunities extend well beyond the US and Canada, and into every country facing a challenge between wood stove use and the need for emissions reductions.

What are the results of your 18 months customer trial with Fire MAPS?

Our customer trials were a key stage of our multi-million-dollar US Department of Energy grants. Originally slated as a 30-day in-home trial, we first extended the trial to run through the end of the first wood heat season based on user interest and feedback. That summer, we started analyzing data, which continued into the fall. A weird thing happened in August and September leading into our second Fire MAPS season; people started reconnecting Fire MAPS as they prepared for the new season. And new data started flowing. Fire MAPS outlived the initial trial and continued past summer and into this next year! That is when I knew we had achieved a nice degree of stickiness with the product – that we had delivered something of value. Data continues to flow, and people continue to use Fire MAPS, even though we have officially closed the beta trials.

The results were better than we could have hoped. We saw an average of ~20% total emissions reduction (wood stove emissions plus user-generated emissions), up to 50% emissions reductions for individuals, and consumer savings due to increased efficiency, something we will spend more time quantifying as we prepare to go to market.