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Plastic-free, water-soluble personal care brand Nohbo raises $3m in seed funding

“This literally could be a $100 million dollar enterprise over the next five to six years built around sustainability. There is nothing better than doing well by doing good!”

Sustainable beauty and personal care technology company Nohbo announced that it has raised $3m in a series seed funding round. Material Impact led the round, together with Safer Made and existing investor Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments.

Nohbo (@nohbodrops) is tackling excess plastic bottle waste with what it describes as the “first-ever”, single-use, dissolvable personal care drops for shampoos, conditioners, body washes and shaving creams.

By using its water-soluble membrane for its beauty products, it aims to eliminate plastic bottles from the beauty and personal care industry.

“There is a disturbing global addiction and dependence on single-use plastics. For personal care products alone, the US market consumes nearly 1,200 football stadiums worth of shampoo bottle waste annually,” said Ben Stern (@itsbenjyyy), Nohbo Founder and CEO.

Stern added: “The mantra of reducing, reusing and recycling simply isn’t enough anymore. Nohbo replaces the need for plastics outright in a novel format that we are all familiar with; pods. We’re thrilled to partner with investors like Mark Cuban, Material Impact, and Safer Made who individually and collectively possess the insight, experience and wherewithal to grow our business, all while making a substantial impact in the process.”

The capital, which will enable Nohbo to scale up their manufacturing and produce 15 million units per month, comes at a pivotal time in the company’s growth trajectory. Material Impact, the Boston-based VC that led the Seed round, sees the investment in Nohbo as core to its thesis of investing in world-changing products enabled by material science innovation.

According to Crunchbase, start-ups developing plastic alternatives last year hit a record of $850 million in funding. Consumers are also increasingly interested in buying products from companies that place an emphasis on sustainability. NBD Group, a marketing research company, found that the clean beauty market grew 10% in 2018, versus 3.8% for the mass beauty industry.

“We are excited to join Nohbo’s mission to change the paradigm of how the hospitality industry and how individual consumers use personal care products in the 21st century,” said Adam Sharkawy, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Material Impact. “Single-use plastics are a menace to our environment. This is truly a material science innovation that is making a big impact on one of the largest culprits of plastic waste in our land and waterways.”

It was Nohbo’s unique product and major market opportunity that peaked Mark Cuban’s interest when Stern pitched to a US TV programme called Shark Tank in February of 2016. The programme gives budding entrepreneurs get three minutes to pitch their business ideas to several multimillionaires.

Mark, who will sit on Nohbo’s Board of Directors along with Adam Sharkawy, has been instrumental in helping Nohbo to implement a strong direct-to-consumer strategy. Today, the company sells its Drops directly on its website, and plans to offer subscription-based offerings later this year.

“Ben is global now, and that’s just the beginning,” said Cuban in Nohbo’s “Shark Tank Update” that aired on ABC this past January. “Now that the product is ready for primetime, we are going to add consumer subscriptions. This literally could be a $100 million dollar enterprise over the next five to six years built around sustainability. There is nothing better than doing well by doing good!”

Alongside pursuing a direct-to-consumer commercial strategy, Nohbo has entered into a number of B2B partnerships with some of the leading, Fortune 500 consumer product goods companies to create sustainable, plastic-free personal care lines of their product. Nohbo is also primed to serve the evolving needs of the hospitality industry.

The company is working with one of the largest European hotel distributors to bring its product to the European market, where the EU’s recent vote to ban single-use plastic items has encouraged businesses to seek out more sustainable alternatives.

If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

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Read: Seaweed and Lucozade team-up to tackle plastic waste at mass participation events.

Read:Evian and Suntory continue their commitment to sustainability, developing 100% recycled bottles.

Read:The Blue Planet effect kick-starts focus on plastic use in UK but Brexit and funding challenges remain.

Read:Could milk protein be the solution to our plastic packaging crisis?

Read: UK government launches consultation on standards for biodegradable, compostable and bio-based plastics, as it unveils new sustainable materials fund.

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