IIT Kanpur-backed biomaterials startup Phool.co® raises $8M in funding from Sixth Sense Ventures


G P Varma
Kanpur, April 5, 2022: 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 and 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, PHOOL.CO 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.”

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.”