Nohbo, a startup founded by then 16-year old and backed by ‘Shark Tank’s’ Mark Cuban, raises $3M seed funding to eliminate plastic bottles in personal care products
Benjamin Stern was only 16 years old when he secured an investment from billionaire Mark Cuban on Shark Tank for his sustainable beauty and personal care technology company Nohbo. Benjamin started his entrepreneurship journey all the way back in middle school, at the time when most kids of his age were busy playing video games.
His company Nohbo, eliminates the need for plastic bottles in personal care products. The startup is combating excess plastic bottle waste with the first-ever, single-use, dissolvable personal care drops for shampoos, conditioners, body washes and shaving creams. By encapsulating an innovative formulation of high-performance, high-quality beauty products in a water-soluble membrane, Nohbo aims to eliminate plastic bottles from the beauty and personal care industry.
Today, Nohbo announced it has raised $3 million in a Series Seed funding round to scale up its manufacturing and produce 15 million units per month, comes at a pivotal time in the company’s growth trajectory. The round was led by Material Impact, with participation from Safer Made and existing investor Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments.
“There is a disturbing global addiction and dependence on single use plastics. For personal care products alone, the US market consumes nearly 1,200 football stadiums worth of shampoo bottle waste annually,” said Ben Stern, Nohbo Founder & CEO. “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. We’re thrilled to partner with investors like Mark Cuban, Material Impact, and Safer Made who individually and collectively possess the insight, experience and wherewithal to grow our business, all while making a substantial impact in the process.”
Material Impact, the Boston-based VC that led the Seed round, sees the investment in Nohbo as core to its thesis of investing in world-changing products enabled by material science innovation. According to Crunchbase, start-ups developing plastic alternatives last year hit a record of $850 million in funding. Consumers are also increasingly interested in buying products from companies that place an emphasis on sustainability. NBD Group, a marketing research company, found that the clean beauty market grew 10% in 2018, versus 3.8% for the mass beauty industry.
“We are excited to join Nohbo’s mission to change the paradigm of how the hospitality industry and how individual consumers use personal care products in the 21st century,” said Adam Sharkawy, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Material Impact. “Single use plastics are a menace to our environment. This is truly a material science innovation that is making a big impact on one of the largest culprits of plastic waste in our land and waterways.”
It was Nohbo’s unique product and major market opportunity that peaked Mark Cuban’s interest when Ben pitched to the Sharks in February of 2016. Mark, who will sit on Nohbo’s Board of Directors along with Adam Sharkawy, has been instrumental in helping Nohbo to implement a strong direct-to-consumer strategy. Today the company sells its Drops directly on its website, and plans to offer subscription-based offerings later this year.
“Ben is global now, and that’s just the beginning,” said Cuban in Nohbo’s “Shark Tank Update” that aired on ABC this past January. “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!”
Alongside pursuing a direct-to-consumer commercial strategy, Nohbo has entered into a number of B2B partnerships with some of the leading, Fortune 500 consumer product goods companies to create sustainable, plastic-free personal care lines of their product. Nohbo is also primed to serve the evolving needs of the hospitality industry. The company is working with one of the largest European hotel distributors to bring its product to the European market, where the EU’s recent vote to ban single-use plastic items has encouraged businesses to seek out more sustainable alternatives.