Kanpur | Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt has invested in Phool.co, a start-up backed by IIT-Kanpur that converts floral waste into charcoal-free luxury incense products.
Founded in 2017 by engineering graduate Ankit Agarwal, Phool.co has also received Fair for Life – Fairtrade and Ecocert Organic & Natural certificates.
Using its ‘flowercycling’ technology, the start-up has also launched a product that it calls ‘Fleather’ — an alternative to animal leather made with flowers.
In the media release by IITKanpur, announcing the investment, Alia is quoted as saying: “I admire the founder’s vision of making incense and bio-leather from recycled flowers, thereby contributing to keeping our rivers clean, creating a humane alternative to leather and providing employment to women in India’s heartland.”
Previously, Phool.co had raised $2 million in seed funding from the IAN Fund (New Delhi), Social Alpha FISE (Bangalore), Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (San Francisco) and IIT-Kanpur.
Speaking on the investment by Alia, the IIT-Kanpur Director, Abhay Karandikar, commented: “Innovative ‘flower cycling technology by ‘Phool’ has brought revolutionary changes. In addition to sustainable and Eco-friendly waste flower management, it is helping in the upliftment of hundreds of women along the way. IIT Kanpur is proud to be the incubation partner for ‘Phool’.
Ankit Agarwal, Founder Phool.co said, “At Phool.co we aim to drive systemic change through innovation. Alia’s investment is a validation of our efforts and firmly sets us on a path to build a global success story from a tier 3 city. The investment and support will help us expand our footprint globally and also step up the pace of R&D. I can proudly say, Phool.co is a business built, led and now even invested in by women.”
Professor-in-charge of the Technology Business Incubator of IIT Kanpur, Professor Amitabha Bandyopadhyay, recollected, “I distinctly remember it was a morning of January 2018 when Ankit visited my office and explained his idea which I immediately liked. Ankit mentioned that he has idea and funding but no infrastructure. Thanks to BIRAC funded BioNest Startup and Incubation Centre (SIIC) had all the relevant infrastructure and Ankit was allowed to start using the facilities from the very next day. This is how the incubation of ‘Phool’ started at SIIC (Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre).”
Phool.co has received the prestigious UN Young Leaders Award for Sustainable Development Goals, UN Momentum of Change Award, Asia Sustainability Award Hong Kong, Alquity Transforming Lives Awards, London, and Breaking the Wall of Science, Berlin.
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