IIT-Kanpur-Backed Phool.co Raises $1.4 Mn In Pre Series A Round

The funding was led by IAN Fund and San Francisco-based Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

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Phool.co, an IIT-Kanpur-backed biomaterial startup, on Thursday announced it has raised $1.4 million in a pre-series A round led by IAN Fund and San Francisco-based Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.

Founders of Phool.co

Founded by Ankit Agarwal and Prateek Kumar in 2017, Phool.co is converting floral waste into charcoal free luxury incense products. The startup banking on deep-tech research has developed a product, Fleather, which is a viable alternative to animal leather. The startup has also won an award from PETA for its animal leather alternative product.

The three-year-old startup has received numerous accolades internationally for its circular economy approach.

Speaking on the recent development, Ankit Agarwal, founder Phool.co, said, “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 and research. We are perhaps India’s first natural incense brand taking a digital-first approach and have a first-mover advantage as bio-leathers are 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 the operations of the company.” 

The startup has rapidly expanded its operations to Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. During the lockdown, the company ensured its supply chain by sourcing flower waste directly from the distressed horticulture farmers, thus helping them.

Commenting on the capital infusion, Padmaja Ruparel, founding partner, IAN Fund, said, “Innovative solutions for the sustainable development of the community is the need of the hour. Phool.co‘s circular economy model brings triple bottom benefits of environmental, social, and financial sustainability. Ankit and Prateek are passionate entrepreneurs with an innovative product for a sustainable world.” 

IIT Kanpur has been supporting the startup from its inception.  Speaking on the latest development, Dr. Abhay Karandikar, director IIT-Kanpur, said “Innovation in product development aside, I am a huge fan of Phool.co because it is deeply committed to upliftment of marginal women in our society. Phool.co has given a life of dignity to dozens of women and they did this despite having an option of automating the process. For a young entrepreneur this is remarkable commitment towards nation building”

Manoj Kumar, chairperson and founder of Social Alpha & Senior Advisor at Tata Trusts, said “I am extremely proud of what Ankit and team have achieved by pioneering new-circular economy solutions with temple-flowers. The resilience and courage with which Ankit has faced the challenges have been incredible as this sector has not witnessed entrepreneurial or investment risk taking in the past.  Phool has set up a new benchmark and I hope this success story motivates more people from Tier 2 cities to pursue entrepreneurial missions with their market-creating innovations.”

In the past, Phool.co has raised INR 3.38 crore in seed round from Social Alpha, DRK and others.