Jiten Dihora of TRuCapSol

What happens when two experienced professionals start a new company together? They marry 20 years of experience at Proctor & Gamble with 20 years of experience in contract manufacturing to create an innovative start-up.

That’s what David Brand and Jiten Dihora have done. The two entrepreneurs started their company in 2015 at the Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem, which focused on microencapsulation for the nutraceuticals industry.

After 2 years of basic research, they were getting traction with the technology they were developing and filing patents with the federal government. But then they decided to head in a different direction based on the research results. They switched to microencapsulation technology of fragrances in consumer goods such as laundry detergent and fabric softeners, and that’s when TRuCapSol (Time Release Capsule Solutions) was born.

Microencapsulation takes high-value actives encased in micron-sized balloons which then release the active over a duration of time. The technology itself isn’t new, so Brand and Dihora knew they had to bring something different to the table in order to compete, while also not infringing on existing product patents.

“Our microcapsule is different because it uses biodegradable membranes on the microcapsules which makes them environmentally friendly. Most companies are using microplastics which don’t break down in the wastewater treatment plant and are now starting to be outlawed in Europe.” Their ultimate plan is to license their technology to large consumer products companies through technology transfer.

A new direction = expansion at Bridgeworks

They knew they couldn’t run the company out of TechVentures due to size and infrastructure limitations for what they needed to do, so they began to look for space where they could set up TRuCapSol and allow it to grow. The Lehigh Valley’s business incubation ecosystem forms a natural bond between Allentown’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. With a goal of keeping their client in the Lehigh Valley, BFTP connected Dihora and Brand with Bridgeworks, which had the right size space that the new company could fit out with labs and a pilot plant.

Inside the lab at TRuCapSol

“We needed a larger facility, but we knew we didn’t want to buy a building at this point,” explained Brand. “Bridgeworks was really the right space at the right time for us. We can go through different stages of development here. It will allow us to expand as we scale up production. Our space at TechVentures was mostly focused on basic capabilities research, whereas our space at Bridgeworks is all about development and manufacturing. We’re actually making large-scale test batches of the microcapsules onsite.”

“Bridgeworks is a great environment. Being in this building along with so many other startups is a huge enabler,” said Brand. “We enjoy the common spaces like the shared conference rooms which are great spaces for collaboration. The onsite storage for our materials is a big plus. Choosing to locate our business at Bridgeworks has relieved a lot of stress for both of us as it allows us to focus on innovation and scale. We get a great value for the cost of our space.”

“And the staff at Bridgeworks and Allentown Economic Development Corporation has been great to work with too. They helped us secure term-friendly loans to finance the purchase of equipment,” said Dihora.

TRuCapSol presently has 10 employees on its staff, three of which are Ph.Ds., and they expect to add more scientists to the team in the coming year. “We’re bringing high-quality, good paying jobs to the region,” said Brand. “We have a high level of confidence in the growth of this industry and TRuCapSol and we plan to stay in the Allentown area even after we outgrown the space at Bridgeworks. We hope to add new categories down the road such as agricultural, and we will continue to go deeper into consumer products as we evaluate our core competencies and the market demand.”