Solving the modern-day issues of fast fashion with the help of mushrooms sounds like an insane idea.

But four like-minded persons with similar passion have come together as Temu Materials and prove the opposite: Their idea won the Pitch Captain Competition at *ship Startup Festival 2017!

It all started by coincidence

Back in 2016 at the event called Textile Hackathon competition, four strangers with the same passion to create better tomorrow were put into the same group to develop new solutions to the challenges of textile recycling. Eventually, when the group found out that the mushrooms were able to produce synthetic leather, the concept Temu Fabrics was formed which led to winning the competition. Since then, the insane adventure was packed with new opportunities.

The idea is basically simple: certain types of mushrooms destroy old textiles and make up a whole new kind of material.

Insane, intriguing but definitely not impossible

Of course, there were moments when the idea of mushrooms producing synthetic leather was filled with doubts as people that didn’t think this idea would work or that there would be customers. But instead of giving up, the group was determined to chase after what they believed.

“We have to deal with the issue that people don’t believe that our products could be mainstream and that we should focus only on a small niche market. Despite what people say, we have decided to go big or go home. We will stay true to our beliefs and desire to make a real big positive impact on the business world, especially considering the fashion industry. Only the future can tell what our hard work and perseverance will achieve.” – Temu Materials

Indeed, the hard work and perseverance have paid off as the Temu team won the Pitch Captain Competition at *ship 2017! The success of the competition and positive feedback inspired the group to move forward.

“Through *ship, we gained lots of confidence. Knowing that what we are doing is good and needed gave us a great boost to keep going. We know now that our idea has a lot of potentials as there is so much interest in what we are doing.”Mira Valkjärvi, founder of Temu Materials

Temu Materials brought home not only the 5000€ grand prize but also invaluable networking opportunities and many lessons from the mentors.

“We learned that being part of a community and its spirit will give a great competitive advantage. Knowing that there are a lot of places where you can get help if you just know how to look for it and are brave enough to ask encouraged us”, Valkjärvi recalls.

Aside from *ship, the startup was also the finalist and winner of many competitions such as Slush, Bastu Challenge and Climate Launchpad.

A secret behind the success?

“Be brave, know when to follow the rules but also when to break them. So just follow your gut feeling and what you believe in”, Valkjärvi advises.

The next big step of the Temu team’s journey is getting truly started with the mushroom business.

“With our research team, we are starting to analyze and test all the mushroom species to get our first proper prototype out which we can then sell forward. So our goal is to find out what kind of materials each type of mushroom can dissolve and what we can do with them”, Valkjärvi says.


Once again, we are truly delighted to be part of their insane adventure and are excited to see what the future will bring!

*ship 2017 was remarkable as we had exceptionally two winners both striving to stir typicality and defy the boundaries. Read also the article of our another winner: Surgify.



Author: Mimi Hla is a third-year Business Management student living in Mikkeli. For this summer, she will be working as a communication coordinator in our *ship team. With her curious mind, she is passionate about traveling and exploring the world.