How Clensta is improving hygiene behaviour with its range of personal and home care products

Delhi-based B2C startup Clensta started with its proprietary product, a waterless bathing solution, and has grown into a personal and home care brand with a gross merchandise value of Rs 58 crore in FY22.
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Bollywood may have romanticised pigeons, but research has shown that these traditional messengers can be carriers of as many as 60 diseases. 

When Puneet Gupta, Founder of B2C brand Clensta, heard about the deaths caused by diseases associated with pigeon droppings, he decided to create a pigeon repellent that would keep the birds away without harming them. 

“In India, we feed pigeons. But abroad, they are considered pests, similar to rats. After a lot of research and deliberation, we came up with a pigeon repellent that can be sprayed on the area where the birds leave their droppings,” Puneet says.

The repellent, which keeps the pigeons away, is among the various personal and home care products offered by Delhi-based D2V brand Clensta, which was founded in 2016 and began by developing waterless cleaning products. 

The Clensta story began when the founder’s mother underwent knee surgery, and he realised how tough it was to maintain hygiene for a bedridden patient. Research revealed that the “availability of water or living conditions” were the primary reasons for the lack of access to basic hygiene, and motivated Puneet to start up. 

IIT Delhi-incubated Clensta started with just one idea: to make personal hygiene accessible and effective for all.

Today, the startup offers a range of products priced between Rs 200 and Rs 800, with an average basket size worth Rs 700. Clensta’s GMV has currently reached Rs 58 crore for FY22 from Rs 10.6 crore for FY19.

The startup raised Series A funding of more than Rs 20 crore ($2.64 million) in May 2021 from Hem Angel (part of Hem Securities Limited), Venture Catalysts, and Inflection Point Ventures. In July 2022, the company raised Rs 3 crore as debt from Caspian Impact Investments. 

Dr Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, Co-founder and President of Venture Catalysts, said: “Clensta’s innovative cleaning technology reduces the usage of water to a great extent. Its entry into the D2C segment is likely to create a new category of personal and home care products. We are optimistic that Clensta will become a billion-dollar, tech-driven personal care brand in the next few years.”

 

Focusing on innovation

Clensta Pigeon Repellent

Clensta’s first product was a “waterless” bathing product, which could be used by defence personnel, patients, the elderly, and adventure enthusiasts who were unable to take traditional soap-and-water baths. The formulation, devoid of alcohol, SLS, and other harmful ingredients, can be directly applied to hair and body, rubbed in, and wiped off with a towel. It was introduced in 2017 and delivered to the government before being sold to various hospitals across the country. 

The founder says it differs from sanitisers as it is free of alcohol and harmful chemicals. 

“Sanitisers are for killing bacteria. But they are of no use if your hand is actually dirty. And you can’t take a head bath with a sanitiser! That’s where our waterless bathing product came in,” Puneet says. 

Since then, Clensta has grown its portfolio to include skincare with scrubs, lip creams, moisturising creams, and face serums, and home care with cleaners, repellents, room fresheners, car care kits and more. 

The team has also developed a smart refill technology—a powdery solution that is an alternative for buying an entire bottle every time a refill is needed. One only needs to add water to the solution instead of buying a new bottle every time, reducing the use of plastic. The refills are available for Clensta’s home care segment, including the pigeon repellent, floor cleaners, toilet cleansers, hand washes, car shampoos etc. 

Clensta’s products are US FDA approved. The brand has secured patents for its products in nearly 152 countries and has also acquired CE certification, ISO:9001, ISO:1400, and GMP compliance certificates. 

The products are used by the DRDO, Indian Army, and Indian Navy. 

The range is available in various pharmacies across India and major hospitals in Delhi, including AIIMS, Medanta, RML, etc. All products are available across Tier I, II and III cities and on ecommerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. 

Clensta personal care products

Challenges and COVID-19

In the initial stage, Clensta found R&D difficult. However, it eventually received support from IIT Delhi’s Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT).

“For the time being, we have only one lab on IIT Delhi campus. We need more laboratories that are continuously working with us to maintain the repeat ratio and improve our products further,” Puneet says. 

The Clensta team presently outsources product development to external laboratories, based on needs and requirements, on a contractual basis. The products are manufactured in a plant in Uttar Pradesh. 

Another challenge was finding the right team members who believed in founder’s vision and mission. “In the beginning, many people did not agree to work with me. Those with decent jobs did not want to leave their companies to join something new,” Puneet recalls.

Clensta began with a small team of four people. The team has expanded to 33 people working to grow the products’ online and offline presence across India. 

Prof (Dr) Anurag Rathore, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Delhi, is the Scientific Advisor for the brand. 

However, the pandemic was a blow to their business as the government had directed all pharma plants to focus on manufacturing Covid-19 preventing products. 

Amid the pandemic, Clensta expanded its product range by launching hand sanitisers along with a COVID-19 Protection Lotion. Developed using Prolonged Antiviral Protection Technology (PAP technology), the product promised protection from pathogenic microorganisms, including COVID-19, flu virus, MRSA, and Candida albicans for up to 24 hours. 

Apart from being available online and offline, the startup’s COVID-19 protection products were used by Taj Hotels, CK Birla group, etc. 

Market and the future

According to Allied Market Research, the global personal hygiene market was valued at $508 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $720.7 billion by 2030 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3.6 percent. 

With the market dominated by companies like Dettol, Lifebuoy, Savlon, and others that produce sanitisers and cleaning products, Clensta differentiates itself as a developer of products that are free of alcohol and made of natural ingredients like red algae. 

“Our aim is to have a presence in every household in the country and to improve everyone’s hygiene index by at least five percent in the next five years,” Puneet says. 

Edited by Teja Lele

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