The cleaning products you use in your house are 99% water. Yes, the same stuff that comes out of the spigot at your house. With the radical idea that the municipal water system is probably a better way to transport water around, Blueland just raised $20 million to expand its successful line of cleaning-products-in-tablet-form, in a bid to reduce single-use plastics and put a stop to the silliness of shipping water around from factory to retail store, and from retail store to your house.
Launched in 2019, the brand was the first to bring the tablet form factor to market across a range of cleaning products that promise they’re shunning single-use plastics forever. Since its inception, the company has racked up 40 patents (and patents pending), and is tooling up to continue its rapid growth trajectory. The company grew more than 400% over the last year, and saw an 80% increase in customer lifetime value (LTV), largely driven by a broadening of its product lines.
The new $20 million round of financing was led by consumer brands-focused venture firm Prelude Growth Partners. To date, the company has raised $35 million from a veritable who’s-who of industry insiders and celebrities, including Justin Timberlake, Adrian Grenier, Jennifer Fleiss (Rent the Runway), Nicolas Jammet (Sweetgreen), Nick Green (Thrive Market) and others.
“Looking back to when we first started working on the business, my co-founder John and I were on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic packaging. It was actually never about cleaning products. We explored a wide range of potential categories and formats that we could start in. At that point in time there was so much skepticism,” laughs Sarah Paiji Yoo, co-founder and CEO of Blueland.”I feel like I had 20 investors in a row telling me that no one cares about eco — and that people will not change their behaviors for the planet.”
The company is flexing its eco-credentials loudly; it’s a certified B Corporation, and is Climate Neutral Certified — an impressive feat for a company that has also shipped more than 10 million products and grown its customer base to more than 1 million members. It calculates it has already prevented a billion plastic bottles from going to landfills in the process.
“Blueland’s high-performance products combined with its mission to eliminate single-use plastic have resulted in unparalleled consumer love in the cleaning category. The brand is one of the fastest-growing in its space, with exceptional demand and extremely strong loyalty,” said Alicia Sontag, co-founder and managing partner at Prelude Growth Partners. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Sarah and John as they continue to build Blueland into an iconic powerhouse brand.”
The company had to make some big investments in tech along the way; whereas most consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies use a contract manufacturer and relies on them for their formulations, Blueland had to go a different path, as they weren’t able to find anyone who could work to their specs.
“We didn’t initially want to formulate everything ourselves, but we didn’t have the luxury of being able to use a contract manufacturer. Once we realized that cleaning sprays have 90% water, we decided that it wouldn’t make sense to take a traditional approach. We went to all these cleaning manufacturers — over a dozen of them — and they all looked at us like we had three heads; as if we were stupid,” Yoo recalls. “They didn’t have tablet machinery; most of their ingredients comes to them as liquids, and they weren’t able to make what we needed. That kicked off a wild goose chase. We talked to everyone from candy manufacturers to vitamin manufacturers trying to figure out if the dry-format folks could help us with this. The takeaway from those conversations was that we were going to have to formulate our own product. Neither my co-founder nor myself are chemists, but we were able to bring on the director of formulation for Method, which is one of the largest natural cleaning brands in the world. There is a lot to be proud of — we have been the first to bring the tablet form factor to market across a range of cleaning products, from hand soaps to spray cleaners to laundry and dish soaps. That has enabled us to become the leading cleaning brand that uses no single-use plastic across all of our products.