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[Funding alert] Alia Bhatt invests in D2C startup

Alia Bhatt has invested in IIT Kanpur-backed D2C startup Earlier, had raised $2 million in a seed round from IAN Fund, Social Alpha (FISE), Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (San Francisco), and IIT Kanpur.

[Funding alert] Alia Bhatt invests in D2C startup

Thursday October 07, 2021 , 3 min Read

Actor and entrepreneur Alia Bhatt has invested in Phoola startup that focuses on flowercycling technologies to upcycle cellulose waste and specialises in manufacturing charcoal-free incense and other wellness products.

Earlier, had raised $2 million in a seed round from IAN Fund, Social Alpha (FISE), Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (San Francisco), and IIT Kanpur.

With deeptech research, the startup has successfully developed a commercially viable alternative to animal leather called “Fleather”, which was recently awarded PETA’s best innovation in the Vegan World.

Alia Bhatt, known for her environmental initiatives, said, “Phool incense really stands out for its fine natural fragrances and amazing packaging. I admire the founder’s vision of making incense and bio-leather from recycled flowers that contribute to keeping our rivers clean, creating a humane alternative to leather, and providing employment to women in India’s heartland.

"I’m proud that these products are created in India and wowing the world and I’m thrilled to join the investors who are backing the company.”

Alia Bhatt

Founded by engineering graduate Ankit Agarwal in July 2017, is an innovative startup focused on the circular economy, and helps convert floral waste into charcoal-free luxury incense and other wellness products.

Ankit Agarwal, Founder said ,“At, we aim to drive systemic change through innovation. Alia's investment is a validation of our efforts and firmly sets us on a path to build a global success story from a Tier III city. The investment and support will help us expand our footprint globally and also step up the pace of R&D. I can proudly say, is a business built, led and now even invested in by women.” has rapidly expanded its operations and has consistently achieved 130 percent year-on-year growth for the past two years.

Dr Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur, said “IIT Kanpur is proud to be a partner of Phool. I am glad that we could help the company technologically but at the same time, I must acknowledge that brought a lot of visibility to our incubator and the subsequent stupendous success of SIIC is at least in part due to its success."

Earlier this year, Alia Bhatt had also invested in Nykaa, the omnichannel lifestyle retailer, stating the three reasons she chose the company were its Indian roots, its global scale, and that it was founded by a woman.

Speaking on the latest development, Manoj Kumar, Founding Partner, Social Alpha (FISE), said, “Ankit has truly demonstrated how passionate entrepreneurs can solve some of our most complex problems with their disruptive innovations. The team has the rare combination of empathy, audacious goals, extraordinary resilience and flawless execution to build and scale a sustainable business model. will only grow bigger with time”

Padmaja Ruparel, Founding Partner, IAN Fund, said, “Innovative solutions for the sustainable development of the community is the need of the hour.‘s circular economy model brings triple bottom benefits of environmental, social, and financial sustainability."

Edited by Teja Lele