Lucia Maffei, Technology Reporter – Boston Business Journal
May 5, 2022, 2:00pm EDT
Seaspire Inc.
The Seaspire executive team. From left: Lauren Napier, chief brand officer; Camille Martin, CEO; and Leila Deravi, CTO and assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern University.

Before becoming chief executive of her own beauty startup, Camille Martin had another job title: member of the “Cephalopod Team.”
In the lab of Leila Deravi, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern University, Martin studied animals such as squid, octopus and cuttlefish.
In five years, Martin went from dissecting mollusks as part of her graduate degree to raising $3 million for Seaspire Inc., the startup she and Deravi co-founded in 2019.
The company, based in greater Boston with a commercial team in New York City, is announcing its seed round on Thursday, after it was first dislosed in a regulatory filing last week.
MIT’s The Engine is a returning investor and led the round. Other investors include MassMutual through its MM Catalyst Fund, MassVentures, Safar Partners, Alumni Ventures and angel investors Daniel Siegel and Susan Bryde.
The money will go towards developing and launching the startup’s first direct-to-consumer line, which seeks to address pigmentation disorders and skin hydration. The three-part skin care regimen is set to launch in the spring of 2023, initially through Seaspire’s direct e-commerce platform.
The new line will be centered on a single key ingredient that is the startup’s secret sauce: Xanthochrome.
When Martin, now 29, joined Deravi’s research team in 2017, the mission was to use nature as a core inspiration to make new materials that can address human health concerns, as well as new consumer goods.
At that time, the cephalopod team was trying to understand how these color-changing animals can adapt their appearance to match their environment. The answer turned out to be a bio-component that can scatter light in interesting ways, contributing to dynamic optical displays.
Then, Martin’s longtime interest in beauty and cosmetics kicked in as she researched how to apply the discovery to consumer goods.
“I’m from New York, born and raised, and I’ve always had a fascination with the beauty industry,” she said. “In fact, my desire to pursue my undergraduate studies and continue my advanced degree in chemistry was for the sole purpose to work at a multinational beauty company and their product development.”
The first idea for using the new ingredient, called Xanthochrome, was as a sunscreen additive. But further analysis revealed that its features may go beyond absorbing and scattering natural light.
Martin said it’s also a powerful antioxidant like vitamin C and E. It also helps with hydration, collagen and keratin production, and accelerates cell regeneration and renewal, she said.
However, one thing Martin learned attending trade shows for the first time was that nobody wanted to work with a company that used animal-derived materials. So she had to go back to the lab.
“As soon as you say ‘animal-derived,’ it’s almost like a red light stop,” she said. “We made a bio-identical version of the molecule that is found in nature. Hence the name of our company: Seaspire, for our sea-inspired technology.”
Martin incorporated Seaspire in 2019, shortly after getting her Ph.D. degree. The latest fundraise brings Seaspire’s total capital raised to $4 million.
“Although we are not using materials from the oceans directly, we are inspired by these amazing color changing animals,” Martin added. “And we want to make sure that throughout our entire design process, that we’re considerate of the types of materials that we need.”
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