IIT Kanpur-backed Phool.co®, India’s first biomaterial startup, and fragrance-focused wellness brand, has raised an investment of $8M from one of India’s foremost consumer funds, Sixth Sense Ventures. The funding was raised in a series A round which also saw participation from existing investors, Alia Bhatt and IAN Fund.
Bringing much-needed innovation to the centuries-old incense industry, Phool is India’s first wellness brand to obtain the coveted Fair for Life – Fairtrade, and Ecocert Organic & Natural certifications. Incubated at the Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre (SIIC), IIT Kanpur, Phool came to limelight with their incense made from flower waste. Leveraging its deep understanding of fragrances and consumer preferences, the company, with their suite of certified natural products, has raised this round to build depth in the $23B global home fragrance market, and enter the aromatherapy-based personal-care category.
The company had also developed Fleather®, a breakthrough material that performs and feels exactly like leather, but is non-animal and non-plastic. With this indigenous home-grown alternative, Phool plans to transform the $550B global leather goods industry. With a solid IP portfolio in its kitty, Phool has signed pilots with some of the world’s largest fashion houses. Awarded the Best Innovation in Vegan Fashion by PETA, Fleather® is the answer to one of the world’s highest polluting industries.
Speaking on the latest development, Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director IIT Kanpur said, “I am delighted to know that PHOOL has secured funding from Sixth Sense Ventures. My heartiest congratulations to Ankit and his hard-working team. Their visionary ‘flower-recycling technology’ is indeed revolutionary. I’m impressed with their innovative technology that promotes sustainable development goals and generates livelihood opportunities for hundreds of women, simultaneously. IIT Kanpur is immensely proud to be an incubation partner for PHOOL and a part of their success.”
Founder, Ankit Agarwal said, “In a short span of time, our modest efforts have managed to create a dent in the Indian fragrance industry. Phool as a brand today is synonymous with luxury fragrance products on account of our unwavering focus on superior product experience, and honest ingredients. We plan to transform the global home fragrance market, and build a distinct brand with our product range. We have already made strong inroads in the rapidly growing Indian market that has been starved for good quality products. The Sixth Sense investment is a testament to our vision to build a global fragrance brand from India. I believe Nikhil’s acumen and knack for unlocking opportunities will fuel our growth story in the years to come. ”
Nikhil Vora, Founder and CEO of Sixth Sense Ventures said, “The under-penetrated home fragrance industry presents a large, white space to be exploited. Plus a clear shift to natural and sustainable alternatives is creating a strong demand for Phool’s products. The brand’s premium and international appeal can be easily leveraged across the globe, presenting a huge untapped opportunity for Phool’s certified, Indian-origin products. A keen innovator and acute executioner, Ankit and his unrelenting spirit has led him to build an outstanding team with multiple patents to their name. Their moonshot, Fleather® is a game-changing innovation, and presents a massive potential opportunity. Super thrilled to partner with Ankit and team to dominate the global market.”
Speaking on the latest investment, Alia Bhatt, who is known for her environmental initiatives, said, “Phool incense is now my chosen gift for most special occasions. The natural fragrances and packaging are exquisite. Less chemical and floral waste means cleaner rivers so these products are also a gift to our planet. I believe Phool will be an important global aromatherapy story to emerge from India. And the company’s plant-based leather will also be a more humane choice for the world’s top luxury brands. As a Phool customer and as an investor, I’m putting my money where my belief is.”
Sixth Sense Ventures is India’s first domestic, consumer-focused venture fund with the motto of – Investing in the Consumer of Tomorrow…Today! Founded in 2014, Sixth Sense Ventures currently manages over $550M across three funds and has been ranked as one of the top-performing AIFs (Alternative Investment Funds) in India by CRISIL. SSIO III has completed 23 investments including Parag Milk, Nobel Hygiene, Fraazo, Open Secret, Stylam, GoodDot, Neeman’s, Rage Coffee, Design Cafe, Bira 91, Storia, Giva, Freecultr, Dogsee Chew, Wonderchef, Vedic Cosmeceuticals, Unbox Robotics, Veeda Clinical Research, Direct (ShopKirana), Altigreen, Prozo, Just Dogs and Phool.
Phool.co has transformed the way Indian consumers look at home fragrances with their award-winning incense made from temple flowers. Reigniting India’s $3.2B home fragrance category, Phool has turned the jaded incense category into an experiential lifestyle one. The brand has successfully captured the fascination of consumers looking for superior home-fragrance options, and made incense a part of their daily wellness routines. With a DNA driven by transformative innovation and deep R&D, this IIT Kanpur-backed startup has also put India on the global innovation map with their path-breaking invention, Fleather® – ‘leather made from flowers’.
Targeting white spaces in the unorganized, unbranded fragrance market in India, digital-first Phool has grown 130% YoY and built the untapped online incense category, challenging offline incumbents. Phool has managed to garner outstanding brand love from new-age consumers, on the back of an unparalleled product experience, award-winning packaging, and ingrained ethos of social as well as environmental impact.
With this fundraising, Phool plans to scale operations, explore the untapped domestic and global growth opportunities and build India’s largest fragrance brand. Furthermore, it will also be rapidly scaling the R&D efforts to make animal leather obsolete with Fleather®, the revolutionary vegan alternative to animal leather.
For its endeavours to make innovative and sustainable products, Phool.co has received several international recognitions including the prestigious United Nations Young Leaders Award for Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Momentum of Change Award at COP, Asia Sustainability Award Hong Kong, Alquity Transforming Lives Awards, London and Breaking the Wall of Science, Berlin Award.
Earlier, Phool.co had raised a seed round from IAN Fund, Social Alpha (FISE), Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (San Francisco), and IIT Kanpur.