IIT-Kanpur backed startup that turns wasted temple flowers vegan leather
Kanpur-based biomaterial start-up Phool.co has just raised over Rs 10+ crore in funding round led by IAN Fund and San Francisco-based Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. Previously, it received funding of Rs 3.38 crore in a seed round from DRK Foundation, Social Alpha (FISE), Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) and Balmer Lawrie. Phool was formed as an effort to stop over 8 metric tons of toxic floral waste of temples and mosques from getting dumped into River Ganga everyday. It upcycles 8.4 tons of floral waste daily to make incense sticks, organic vermicompost and biodegradable packaging material among others. The start-up made headlines in the global vegan community when it innovated Fleather – a new vegan, biodegradable alternative to leather, made from sacred flowers discarded by temples and mosques in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
For creating Fleather, Phool was awarded the ‘Best Innovation in Vegan Fashion’ title by PETA India and Lakme Fashion Week at the Circular Design Challenge in February 2020. Popular designer Anita Dongre has also shown interest in working with the breathable and tensile bio-leather. More sustainable leather alternatives can now be made from cork, pineapples, using agricultural waste and coconut water, fruit waste and even cacti.