Inside Checkerspot w/ Scott Franklin

At ECO-SYSTM, we absolutely love seeing our members strive to make a difference in the world. Coworking culture provides the perfect nesting ground for the sharing of new ideas, and when those ideas are put to positive use we all stand to benefit from the results. One of our particularly inspirational individuals in the space is Scott Franklin, co-founder of Checkerspot and featured ECO-SYSTM member. Checkerspot is a bio-based materials company and a certified B-corp dedicated to reducing the high amounts of fossil fuels used in materials manufacturing by researching and expanding on the use of different triglyceride oils that we can use in their place, or as Scott explains it…


As we attempt to deal with climate change, it’s imperative we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Today, about 70% of each barrel of refined crude oil goes into fuel (gasoline, diesel and jet), which is the principal reason oil refineries were developed. The remaining 30% goes into making ‘feedstocks’ that are used to produce materials. This 30% was originally a waste stream in oil refining, and as a consequence, the petrochemical industry has spent the past 150 years figuring out how to convert that stream into other products.

Checkerspot is focused on expanding the TYPES of triglyceride oils we can make in our organisms, specifically for producing high performance, bio-based materials to replace the petroleum components which are used today. Using triglycerides to make materials isn’t really new, since long before we were making fuel, plastics, rubbers, coatings, sealants etc. from petroleum, we were making these from vegetable oils derived from seeds. Dramatically increasing the types of triglyceride oils we can make, is what Checkerspot is all about.


Scott’s background is in algal and plant molecular genetics in which he’s spent the last eight years leading a team of brilliant scientists building an algae-based platform technology employing industrial scale fermentation in which these organisms produce triglyceride oils (think vegetable or seed oils, from palm, sunflower, or cocoa butter-these are all triglycerides). He has been working at ECO-SYSTM about 3 months now and in that short amount of time he’s expanded his team from 1 to 5.

In addition to the inspirational views of the new Trasbay Terminal construction project (giving him constant ideas for Checkerspot materials), Scott really appreciates the positive energy level at ECO-SYSTM along with the flexibility provided to his startup for planning team meetings and getting operations up and running at very little cost. In fact, it’s inspired his team to expand to another coworking hub in the East Bay as well!

Bottom line, we couldn’t be prouder to provide a home for such an inspirational group of innovators and we can’t wait to see them continue to grow!