TheNFAPost Podcast
  • is perhaps India’s first new-circular economy startup to raise a US$1.4 Million round
  • IAN fund invests $1.4 Million in IIT Kanpur backed startup, that has pioneered the flower cycling technology to upcycle cellulose waste and specializes in manufacturing charcoal-free luxury incense sticks from temple flowers
  • With Deep-tech research, the startup has successfully developed a commercially viable alternative to Animal leather called “Fleather” 

Lucknow, NFAPost:, an IIT Kanpur backed biomaterial startup, today announced that it has raised US$1.4 Million in a pre-Series A funding round. The funding round was led by IAN Fund and San Francisco based Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.

Founded by engineering graduates, Ankit Agarwal and Prateek Kumar in July 2017, is an innovative startup focused on the circular economy which converts the floral waste into Charcoal free Luxury incense products. 

With deep-tech research, the startup has developed “Fleather” leveraging their flower cycling technology. Fleather is a viable alternative to Animal leather which was recently awarded PETA’s best innovation the Vegan World. has rapidly expanded its operations to Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. During the lockdown, the company ensured its supply chain by sourcing flower waste directly from the distressed horticulture farmers, bringing them critical income in the toughest of times.

Circular economy vision is based on sustainable development goals focused on creating a circular economy, promoting sustainable consumption, and bringing dignified livelihoods.

Speaking on the latest development, IAN Fund Founding Partner Padmaja Ruparel 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. Ankit and Prateek are passionate entrepreneurs with an innovative product for a sustainable world,” said IAN Fund Founding Partner Padmaja Ruparel.

IIT Kanpur has been Phool’s backbone for technical research. Speaking on the latest development, IIT Kanpur director Dr. Abhay Karandikar said innovation in product development aside he is a huge fan of because it is deeply committed to the upliftment of marginal women in the society.


“ has given a life of dignity to dozens of women and they did this despite having an option of automating the process. For a young entrepreneur, this is a remarkable commitment towards nation-building,” said IIT Kanpur director Dr. Abhay Karandikar.

For its endeavours to make innovative and sustainable products, has  received several international recognitions including the prestigious United Nations Young Leaders Award for Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Momentum of Change Award at COP 2018, Asia Sustainability Award 2020, Hong Kong, Alquity Transforming Lives Awards, London and Breaking the Wall of Science, Berlin Ankit Agarwal said is a sustainable solution to the monumental temple-waste problem in India.

“Through our efforts, we aim to build natural alternatives to synthetic chemical-based products by using deep-tech & Research. We are perhaps India’s first natural incense brand taking a digital-first approach and have a first-mover advantage as bio-leathers are barely available in India,” said Founder Ankit Agarwal. Founder Ankit Agarwal said they delighted to get IAN on board as an investor and the funds raised will be used to advance the research and scale the operations of the company.

Future for humanity

Speaking on its efforts to create a new circular economy, Chairperson & Founder of Social Alpha & Senior Advisor at Tata Trusts Manoj Kumar said the organisation loves to back founders who are relentless in their pursuit of a better future for humanity and are willing to take on big and tough challenges.

“I am extremely proud of what Ankit and team have achieved by pioneering new-circular economy solutions with temple-flowers. The resilience and courage with which Ankit has faced the challenges have been incredible as this sector has not witnessed entrepreneurial or investment risk-taking in past,” said Chairperson & Founder of Social Alpha & Senior Advisor at Tata Trusts Manoj Kumar.

 Chairperson & Founder of Social Alpha & Senior Advisor at Tata Trusts Manoj Kumar said Phool has set up a new benchmark and he hopes this success story motivates more people from Tier 2 cities to pursue entrepreneurial missions with their market-creating innovations.

Earlier, had raised Rs 3.38 crore in a seed round from Social Alpha (FISE) and DRK Foundation, and a few others such as IIT Kanpur and Balmer Lawrie. 

Entrepreneurial landscape

The IAN Fund, an Rs 375 crore fund, is a uniquely differentiated seed/early stage Fund which aims to transform India’s entrepreneurial landscape. The fund invests in innovative companies in sectors including healthcare and medical devices, VR, AI, software as a service, marketplaces, fin-tech, big data, artificial intelligence, agritech and hardware. The Fund leverages and builds upon the strengths and success of IAN, the world’s largest angel investor group, to breed and grow innovative companies.

The fund has Institutional investors like SIDBI’s Fund of Funds for Startups, BIRAC’s ACE Fund, Kerala Startup Mission, IIFL, Wadhwani Foundation, Max Group, Hyundai along with marquee individuals like Kris Gopalakrishnan, Sunil Munjal, Rajan Anandan, Kanwal Rekhi, Vikram Gandhi, Jerry Rao amongst many others.

This is the first in a series of Funds so that over the next 10 years, the IAN Platform would invest Rs 5000 crore in ~500 companies, making it the single largest platform for early-stage investing, enabling companies to raise from Rs 25 lakhs to Rs 50 crores from a single platform, along with co-investors.

IAN Platform provides startups funding through the most challenging stages of their growth. The IAN fund plays a critical role, not just in plugging the gap in funding, but also in using its vast network to provide strategic mentorship and market access    

Social Alpha’s mission is to drive economic growth, social justice and climate action through the power of entrepreneurship and market-creating innovations.

Social Alpha is focused on catalysing entrepreneurship for impact and provides critical technology and business incubation support to the mission driven founders through its product innovation labs and venture acceleration framework. Since its inception in 2016, Social Alpha has nurtured 150+ start-ups, making 35+ seed investments and 3 exits.

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