Phool.co, a start-up backed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur, said on Thursday it has have raised $1.4 million in a pre-Series A funding round.
The funding was led by IAN Fund and San Francisco-based Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, according to IIT Kanpur. IAN Fund’s institutional investors include SIDBI’s Fund of Funds for Startups, apart from several marquee individuals in the league of Kris Gopalakrishnan, Sunil Munjal etc.
Phool.co--founded in 2017 by engineering graduates Ankit Agarwal and Prateek Kumar--converts floral waste at temples into charcoal-free luxury incense products. Phool.co has now expanded its operations to Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh too.
During the covid-19 lockdown, the company ensured its supply chain by sourcing flower waste directly from the distressed horticulture farmers, bringing them critical income in these times.
“Phool.co is a sustainable solution to the monumental temple-waste problem in India. Through our efforts, we aim to build natural alternatives to synthetic chemical-based products by using deep-tech & research,” Agarwal said.
The company has developed ‘Fleather’ leveraging the flower cycling technology. Fleather has been pitched as a viable alternative to animal hide, and was recently conferred with PETA’s best innovation ‘Vegan World’ award.
He claimed his company was perhaps India’s first natural incense brand taking a digital-first approach and having a first-mover advantage as bio-leathers were barely available in India. “We are delighted to get IAN on board as an investor and the funds raised will be used to advance the research and scale operations of the company.”
“Phool.co has given a life of dignity to women and they did this despite having an option of automating the process. For a young entrepreneur, this is a remarkable commitment towards nation building,” said IIT-Kanpur director Abhay Karandikar.