April 26, 2021 – Executive search firm Hobbs & Towne has recruited former North Face executive Scott Mellin as CEO of the newly formed company LifeLabs Design, a commercial brand built on patented textile technologies from two Stanford University scientists. The assignment was led by partners Ryan Houder and Tom Watchko. LifeLabs Design revolves around the earlier work of Yi Cui, director of Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy, and Meng Sui, CEO of EEnotech and 4C Air Inc.
“LifeLabs is about textiles,” Mr. Mellin told Outside Business Journal. “Apparel will be an outcome of that, but when you think about all the major touch points in your life, there’s work, home, mobility, sport and sleep. When you look at all the different textiles across the five dimensions of your life, we have an array of patents that we can apply.” Mr. Mellin had been general manager of North Face’s Mountain Sports division. “My past work was getting people to the top of Everest and building hyper-specific technical products like the Advanced Mountain Kit,” said Mr. Mellin. “That’s not the road we’re going down initially. We’re going down a textile road, and we’re going to see where the textiles land. That may be a licensing model, or we may sell it outright to an existing company.”
A Big Breakthrough
LifeLabs’ insulating material is warm but then. “It’s a pretty sophisticated build process to make insulated garments,” Mr. Mellin told Outside Business Journal. “This creates the same CLO value [the measure of a clothing item’s thermal insulation] so that you could reduce the amount of materials required to keep people warm. This is a significant breakthrough because there’s less virgin material, recycled material, and animal material going into a garment that’s going to keep you just as warm. The value proposition for the consumer is obvious—same warmth, less harm.”
Mr. Mellin’s new role will differ from his time at North Face. “My past work was getting people to the top of Everest and building hyper-specific technical products like the Advanced Mountain Kit,” he told Outside Business Journal. “That’s not the road we’re going down initially. We’re going down a textile road, and we’re going to see where the textiles land. That may be a licensing model, or we may sell it outright to an existing company.”
A seed round of funding for LifeLabs has closed. The company is expected to initiate Series A fundraising in July, said the magazine. “The goal is to have commercial products hitting the market by 2022, but Mellin said the company doesn’t have a specific idea of which consumer products it will target first,” Outside Business Journal said. “Its goal is broader than any single SKU sporting a LifeLabs hangtag.”
Founded in 1997, Hobbs & Towne is an executive search and advisory services firm. Partnering with venture capital, private equity, and family office investors, as well as large, global companies, the firm has recruited across some of the most impactful technology categories, including but not limited to aerospace, agriculture, AI, bio and medical, data science, energy, food, IOT, mobility, robotics, and sustainability. Hobbs & Towne has performed over 2,500 executive searches over the last 20-plus years. The firm has offices in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and London.
Executive search firm Hobbs & Towne has assisted in the placement of Vanderbilt University biochemistry department chair John D. York as chief science officer at Impossible Foods. CEO Andy Towne led the assignment along with partner Ryan Houder for the search firm.
Dr. York, whose first day at Impossible Foods will be Jan. 4, will serve on the senior leadership team and oversee research and development, and product innovation. He will report directly to CEO and founder Patrick O. Brown. Under Dr. York’s leadership, Impossible Foods will continue to build its food technology platform and expand basic research capabilities to accelerate next-generation products. “Throughout his career, John has contributed to discoveries in biochemistry thanks to his curiosity and risk tolerance,” said Dr. Brown, a Stanford University professor emeritus.
Hobbs & Towne has completed searches for the specific roles of chairman, executive chairman, audit chair, CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, CSO, CCO, CMO, chief architect, chief engineer, general counsel and mandates at the EVP, SVP and VP level in technology, engineering, research and development, process development, software development, intellectual property, operations, manufacturing, supply chain, logistics, quality, human resources, finance, accounting, project finance, project development, asset management, development, business development, sales, customer success, marketing, product management, digital and regulatory.
Mr. Houder is a member of Hobbs & Towne’s West Coast team, and have helped expand the firm’s presence within brands, food and agriculture technology, digital health, and industrial technology. Mr. Houder has completed board, C-level and VP-level searches. He has worked closely with the portfolio companies of venture capital and private equity firms such as Stray Dog Capital, Khosla Ventures, CAVU Ventures, 301 Inc., Oak Tree Capital, True North Venture Partners and Pegasus Capital.
Mr. Watchko has spent the last 20 years immersed in the fields of human capital, executive search and recruiting. He has founded and managed multiple start-ups in industries spanning from retail operations to information technology consulting. Additionally, Mr. Watchko has contributed to the buildouts of numerous companies in the energy, sustainability and information technology market sectors. He has worked closely with multiple private equity and venture capital organizations such as Artiman Ventures, Oaktree Capital, Pegasus Capital Advisors, Claremont Creek Ventures and EnerTech Capital on key hires at the VP, C-suite and board levels.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media