Plastic-Free & Water-Soluble Shampoo Startup Secures US$3M Seed Funding

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Sustainable personal care startup Nohbo has recently announced that it has raised US$3 million in a seed funding round. With the new capital, the company, which makes water-soluble vegan soap pods, hopes to scale up their manufacturing capacity and is looking to enter the consumer retail market in addition to business partnerships in the hospitality industry. 

Sustainable beauty & personal care technology company has attracted US$3 million in a seed funding round led by Boston-based VC Material Impact, toxin-free investor Safer Made and existing investor Mark Cuban’s VC firm Radical Investments

The capital injection will enable the company to scale-up its manufacturing capacity to 15 million units per month, at a time when the plastic alternative industry is quickly gaining major traction. According to Crunchbase data, startups that are developing plastic-free alternatives attracted a record-breaking US$850 in funding last year, and multiple consumer market studies have shown that shoppers are increasingly considering sustainability in their purchases

Currently, Nohbo is partnered up with several businesses such as hotel distributors in the European Union to help reduce plastic use in the hospitality industry. The new funding will allow it to enter the consumer retail business as well. 

Read: Zero-waste history – the humble origins of the shampoo bar

Founded in 2018, Nohbo first shot to fame when it appeared on Shark Tank and secured the backing of famous entrepreneur, TV personality and NBA sports team owner Mark Cuban for its single-use shampoo, conditioner, body wash or shaving cream encased in membrane pods that are water-soluble and plastic-free

Nohbo’s product hopes to replace the miniature amenity bottles to combat excess plastic waste. In personal care products alone, the United States market goes through almost 1,200 football stadiums worth of shampoo bottle waste each year

“The mantra of reducing, reusing and recycling simply isn’t enough anymore. Nohbo replaces the need for plastics outright in a novel format that we are all familiar with: pods,” explained Nohbo founder and CEO Ben Stern.

Commenting on the latest seed funding, Cuban said: “Ben is global now, and that’s just the beginning. Now that the product is ready for primetime, we are going to add consumer subscriptions. This literally could be a $100 million dollar enterprise over the next five to six years built around sustainability. There is nothing better than doing well by doing good.”

Recent moves by multinational hospitality groups suggest that Nohbo’s sustainable solution to replace miniature plastic bottles will be in high demand. Last year, global luxury hospitality group Mandarin Oriental Hotels pledged to phase out all single-use plastics across its entire portfolio by March 2021, following similar moves made by Marriott International, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Six Senses Resorts and Ovolo Hotels

Lead image courtesy of Nohbo.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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