This IIT Delhi incubated brand helps soldiers, patients maintain personal hygiene with its waterless products

Launched in 2016 by Puneet Gupta, IIT Delhi incubated Clensta is creating innovative personal hygiene solutions accessible to anyone, anytime, and anywhere. Amidst the pandemic, it launched its COVID-19 protection lotion.
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Puneet Gupta — a sales and marketing graduate from IIM Calcutta — started his career with the US-based technology and manufacturing company Honeywell. Fascinated by the growth of the Indian startup ecosystem during the last decade, he decided to leave his well-paying job at the US-based MNC to work with Indian startups, specifically catering to the defence sector. 

 

While working in the sector for eight years, he closely observed the hygienic conditions of the soldiers working in extreme weather conditions in places such as Siachin, Kargil, and Drass. 

 

The challenge of not being able to maintain personal hygiene (like not bathing for days) led Puneet to develop waterless technology products in 2016 under the brand name Clensta

 

In an interaction with SMBStory, Puneet Gupta, Founder and CEO, Clensta, says, 

“Starting up needs a strong idea but to sustain the business, an entrepreneur needs huge funds and infrastructure. To create innovative healthcare products, we needed a strong R&D, and thus, we joined hands with IIT Delhi to help us make hygiene accessible for anyone, anytime, and anywhere.”

While Puneet is the sole founder of Clensta, Prof (Dr) Anurag Rathore (Department of Chemical Engineering - IIT Delhi) serves as the Scientific Advisor for the brand. 

A move to save water

Situated in IIT Delhi’s Biotechnology Business Incubation Facility, Clensta has developed a waterless body bath and shampoo that can be used by defence personnel, patients, elderlies, and adventure enthusiasts to take baths without water while maintaining proper hygiene. 

 

For the same, it has developed a simple formulation devoid of alcohol, SLS, and any other harmful ingredients. These products can be directly applied to hair and body, massaged, and dried off using a towel, without any use of water. 

 

“Our mission is to be an affordable healthcare provider across India. We want to improve environmental management, focussing on hygiene standards and water efficiency. The average household use of 250 litres of water per day per capita gave rise to a large number of water subsidies from governmental aids. By using waterless technology, households and hospitals estimated the usage of over 25 million litres of water a year, saving Rs 1,500,000 annually,” Puneet explains. 

 

All of Clensta’s products are US FDA approved. In fact, 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. 

 

Clensta’s products are available in various pharmacies across India with presence in major hospitals in Delhi, including AIIMS, Medanta, RML, etc. Its products are widely accepted in the DRDO, Indian Army, and Indian Navy as well. 

 

Clensta has raised undisclosed angel investments for scaling its product and portfolio from shareholders and investors, including Sanjeev Jain, an IIT Delhi alum and a seasoned angel investor, and Indian Angel Network and its maiden VC fund — IAN Fund.

The COVID-19 protection products

For Clensta — that provides affordable and waterless healthcare hygiene solutions — the coronavirus pandemic was a turning point. 

“With the pandemic, the use of hand sanitisers increased, and every second company started manufacturing the same. Within a short time, the sector not only became unorganised but also missed out on providing the actual benefits of the products to customers,” Puneet says.

He adds, for any sanitiser to provide protection, it needs to remain on the surface for at least 30 seconds. However, not many brands and their products pass this criterion. 

In a move to protect people from COVID-19, Clensta launched hand sanitisers, as well as Clensta – COVID-19 Protection Lotion. Priced at Rs 298 for the 100 ml size bottle, the lotion is available in both retail stores, as well as on ecommerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart.

Puneet claims that the lotion is effective in keeping one safe from any pathogen for 24 hours. The product — which is developed based on Prolonged Antiviral Protection Technology (PAP technology) — provides longer protection from pathogenic microorganisms, including COVID-19, flu virus, MRSA, and Candida albicans for up to 24 hours. It is easy to use and needs to be applied three times a day.

According to the founder, the science behind the product is a breakthrough advancement in the nano-biotechnology formulation. This first-of-its-kind patented PAP Technology prevents viral, bacterial, and fungal infections without harming human health. 

“We have prepared our products using ingredients that will break down in nature with high-rate acceptable concentrations so that unacceptable concentrations of a surfactant or its metabolism are not generated in the environment,” he explains.

Clensta's COVID-19 protection products are also being accommodated for public use in private enterprises like Taj Hotels, CK Birla group, etc.

Clensta's product range

Challenges and competition

Puneet says every startup comes across different challenges while trying to make it sustainable, especially with innovative product development. In the initial stage, Clensta faced hurdles while setting up its R&D unit. However, it eventually received the support from IIT Delhi’s Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT). 

“The programme of FITT actively helped us in providing the infrastructure that was required to develop the products,” Puneet says.

The domestic personal hygiene market is worth Rs 11,000 crore, catering to a large consumer base that includes defence, hospitals, adventure enthusiasts and travellers, space, OTC, home care, etc. According to Puneet, the brand aspires to scale its business to B2C along with B2B operations.  

“Although we do not have any other Indian company working in the exact same market with the exact same product (since our products are into personal hygiene), any company dealing in soaps, body wash, sanitisers, as well as shampoos or dry shampoos, can be considered as an indirect competitor,” he says.

In fact, a large segment of FMCG market leaders would eventually become Clensta’s competition, “given we are bringing in products or substitutes for these products,” Puneet adds.

The way forward

The growing concern over healthcare facilities, personal hygiene products, and environmental concerns like water scarcity, plastic wastage, and water conservation are some of the crucial issues that need to be addressed with utmost priority, Puneet says.

 

The company will soon launch various new products with its patented waterless technology. Its upcoming innovations include waterless toothpaste with safe to swallow ingredients with no water required for rinsing, waterless pigeon repellent, anti-mosquito body bath, waterless intimate wash, waterless surgical wash, as well as alcohol-free hand rub. 

 

In fact, the company is also planning to launch Homsta that will work towards creating an innovative product brand to disrupt the personal and home care industry by implementing recyclable goods along with water-free technology. 

 

“We maintain the global standard for evaluating the cost reduction on household products with qualified assessment and developed practical tools, as well as approaches for plastic footprint assessment and plastic footprint reduction,” he adds. 

Edited by Suman Singh

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