By Sameera Deol | Small Is Big
The promotion and preservation of health is fundamental to one’s survival, however good health still remains inaccessible to many. Clensta – an Indian startup in association with IIT Delhi takes inspiration from the visible need to make personal hygiene accessible to all. It takes hygiene to a new level by providing a “waterless solution” even at Zero gravity. Clensta’s mission is to provide innovative healthcare solutions that make hygiene quick, accessible & simple for everyone, anytime and anywhere.
Inception of Clensta
IIM Calcutta alumnus Puneet Gupta was closely associated with the Armed Forces for 8 years as part of his job and was lucky enough to meet brave soldiers on duty at remote locations like Siachen, Kargil and Drass. His personal experiences of meeting Indian soldiers and witnessing the privation faced by them, propelled him towards developing waterless products, leading to the birth of Clensta.
“After extensive discussions with experts we realised that directly or indirectly, the availability of water or the physical conditions of an individual become the primary reasons why sometimes people lack access to something as basic as personal hygiene. And that’s why we established Clensta – for making personal hygiene accessible to everyone. Be it a patient on the bed, an elderly person, a backpacker, a soldier, a traveller or each of us when on the go, these products make personal hygiene accessible for each one,” says Gupta.
Waterless Hygiene Products
After profound research and innovation, Clensta has developed a waterless body bath and a waterless shampoo – the novelty of the products being zero usage of water! A pioneer in this field, Clensta holds patents for the 2 products in 108 countries and claims that these products free from alcohol, gluten and SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) allow the same level of cleansing that products using water do.
Gupta says, “The unique feature of zero utility of water makes the product novel and drives the vision of universal access to innovative & exemplary hygiene-centric healthcare solution. Our Product composition is such that it helps maintain the same level of cleansing without leaving the same high level of residue, which can hence be wiped with a towel/tissue without the use of water to wash it off. Our products are thoroughly tested in a variety of environments, temperatures, landscapes and on different types of skin and hair. ”
Clensta’s products have an edge over similar products and methods like sanitizers – that contain alcohol and cannot be used on sensitive skin and also do not help remove dust, grease and oil; dry shampoo – that is more for temporary beautification rather than permanent cleansing and sponging – that only attains a minimum hygiene level.
Tapping the personal hygiene segment
Gupta sees huge opportunity in the personal hygiene segment in India and with an exhaustive study done on the Indian market by Clensta he claims the current market size is easily close to Rs 11,000 Crores and given that Clensta is the first to move into the waterless technology segment, the future does indeed look promising.
With alumni from reputed institutes like IIMs, IITs, Bangalore University etc. forming the core team at this seed funded company, its two main verticals of research and business management are currently handled by a small team of 5 in India and 3 in Netherlands.
Talking of target markets, Gupta says, “On the whole you can say that anyone who does not have access to water or has water but is not mobile enough to go take a bath on their own, Clensta is the product for them. Be it in a hospital, while traveling, while trekking or any other place. We currently are working for 8 target markets: Defence, Hospitals, Adventure Enthusiasts, Travellers, Over The Counter, Home Care, Space and each one of us on the go.”
Changing consumer mindsets
Keeping the creation of a global brand in mind, Clensta has made it a point to comply with international standards of biotech/cosmetic products. While scaling a startup is always challenging, Clensta’s greater challenge is in scaling up the awareness about waterless products and changing consumer mindsets to believe that cleanliness and hygiene can be achieved without the use of water as well. The company is currently focusing only on B2B sales and distribution mostly with defence establishments and private as well as government hospitals.
“Making people move from water to waterless, may not be something that can happen overnight. Eventually the way things are moving in India as well as globally people are becoming more and more conscious about water conservation. Like people have moved from soap to body wash and face wash, that day is not far when waterless bathing will also become an everyday phenomenon because it is anyway a need of the hour. Water resources are limited, utility or requirement of water is vast and personal hygiene accounts for a very huge amount of water usage and also water wastage” says Gupta.
Priced at Rs 499 and Rs 549, Clensta’s two products are not exactly affordable by underprivileged rural Indians at the moment but Gupta says, “Our target clientele atleast right away is not people like you and me who have access to running water throughout their day; but people for whom the cost of making personal hygiene accessible is far more than this.”
Clensta’s growth plans
Even though Clensta is not profitable yet, its turnovers are “good” says Gupta given the fact that the company has recently gone commercial. He is hopeful of breaking even in the next financial year and plans of raising a round of Series A funding are well underway. Clensta currently has 3 main collaborations aiding its growth story, with IIT Delhi, American Embassy (India) and World Startup Factory, Netherlands for technology, innovation, networking, research and infrastructure.
The Future is Waterless!
Believing that the future belongs to waterless technology, Clensta has new versions of its waterless body bath and shampoo on the anvil – products that will act as mosquito repellants for 24 hours after use! Another innovation is its waterless toothpaste that will have a ‘safe to swallow’ formulation! Inspired by Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Gupta believes in learning from failure and never giving up. From a small spark, that lead to a revolutionary product to a larger vision where Clensta will one day be synonymous with waterless personal hygiene, the startup’s journey looks promising indeed.
Gupta says, “Given the vast utility of the product and the growing concerns of water availability we would like to expand in our current B2B market by making the product accessible to every soldier, every patient, space travellers and also open up the B2C market and make the product available to everyone across the globe.”