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Woody Harrelson Using Equity Crowdfunding to Scale Straw Paper Enterprise

Last week, institutional crowdfunding marketplace Optimize Capital Markets released a call for accredited investors looking to profit by disrupting an environmentally destructive industry while solving a massive waste problem: Optimize’s client, Prairie Paper Ventures, co-founded by actor Woody Harrelson, makes paper from agricultural waste.

“It’s always been a big concern of mine that paper comes from forests,” Harrelson said in a video appeal to potential investors. “Now, it’s back to the farmer: You have wheat straw that is left over after farmers have harvested the crop for food — we’re now taking that ag waste and using it to make paper. It’s a real plus for the forests, it’s a real plus for the farmers and it’s going to be great for our future.”

While Prairie Paper is already producing its Step Forward paper — from 80% straw fiber and 20% FSC-certified pulp — Optimize CEO Matthew McGrath says Harrelson and co. are seeking an infusion of $5 million, in order to grow their enterprise to a scale that could potentially disrupt the massive, tree-based paper industry.

“This really is a new channel of growth capital for companies,” McGrath said during a phone interview. “They certainly can go the traditional route by going to a bank or financial institution, but the benefit of an equity crowdfunding raise is that you’re getting instant exposure to a very broad base of accredited investors that are looking to make investments for the long term, patient investors that ultimately want to invest in a company where they can profit but also make a real difference in the environment.”

Combined with steadily increasing demand for sustainably sourced paper products — by companies in a range of industries, as well as consumers and NGOs — McGrath said there is enough ag waste in North America alone to operate roughly a dozen paper mills, which the CEO estimated could result in revenues of up to $300-400M per year, making this an incredible investment opportunity.

Step Forward Paper is available at Staples stores nationwide.

The time is right for companies such as Prairie Paper to begin offering solutions to some of our most pressing environmental issues: According to FSC research released last month, many of the world’s consumers lay the responsibility of solving global environmental issues mostly at the door of businesses.

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