For over eight years, as part of his work, Dr Puneet Gupta worked in association with the Defence Forces. He witnessed the challenges officers and jawans deployed, especially in areas like Dras, Kargil and the Siachen glacier faced, where temperatures drop to a drastic -45 degrees.
The fight in these battlefields is not restricted to enemy infiltration but is also fought on the personal front, to maintain personal hygiene under extreme weather conditions.
Puneet’s stay at the Northern, Eastern and various commands of Army, Navy and Indian Airforce,helped him interact with various senior officials.
They shed light on how Indian soldiers trod mountains, dense forests, snowy cliffs in severe snow storms, white-outs, blizzards, and blistering heat, in uncomfortable clothes and bulky equipment.
Most are deployed in areas where there isn’t enough water for drinking, let alone bathing or maintaining personal hygiene.
This gave Puneet a purpose. He wanted to tackle these grave issues and help the Defence sector in every way he could.
Thus was born Clensta.
An alumnus of IIM Calcutta, Dr Puneet Gupta founded Clensta in February 2016. It is an innovative biotech start-up, revolutionising waterless solutions.
This 18-month-old startup has developed waterless personal hygiene products such as shampoo and body baths, capable of efficiently removing dirt, dust, grease, odour and oil from the skin and head. All omitting the very mechanism of ‘rinsing’ and using ‘water’ in the first place!
Once massaged into the skin or scalp directly, it leaves no residue after you wipe it with a clean towel or tissue.
In addition to helping jawans, these products can effectively ease the woes of bedridden patients in hospitals and ICUs, who don’t have suitable alternatives for bathing or personal hygiene.
After speaking to a host of medical experts and attendants, Puneet’s team realised the only mechanism to maintain hygiene in these cases was traditional sponging.
“To be honest, sponging gives you no opportunity for a head bath. Also, dipping the sponge repeatedly in same water contaminates it, ruling out hygiene.”
Puneet and his team in association with IIT Delhi, as their research partner and shareholder in the company are catering to the cause. The institute provided infrastructural support and access to faculty for technical and advisory support.
With a research partnership with IIT Delhi, an office in the campus and facility in the biotechnology department, they are undertaking complete in-house research and are on a mission to solve various problems in the Defence sector.
The three main areas of work include personal hygiene, dental hygiene and controlling dengue and malaria.
The personal hygiene includes their range of waterless bathing products, which in addition to removing dirt, grease and odour, also maintain pH level of the skin, and reduce washing times.
“It will give the soldiers the complete fresh bath experience without using a drop of water. We have worked very hard for the last 16 months on developing it,” says Puneet.
Dental hygiene is another area they are working on. Due to unavailability or scarcity of water, defense forces deployed all across including Siachen, Dras, Sino-Indian border and India-Pakistan border, have no alternatives to maintain oral hygiene. Also, oral hygiene of the sick and aged can be a messy ordeal for their bedside caregivers.
“We are also working on a waterless toothpaste, which is a safe-to-swallow formula and helps keep dental hygiene without the use of water,” says Puneet.
Even though the product has not been launched in the market so far, a provisional patent has been filed. The basic formulation is ready and the waterless toothpaste is planned to be launched on World Health Day, 7th April 2018, with all the other products.
In order to tackle the growing menace of dengue and malaria control, Clensta is also developing a bottled waterless shampoo which will successfully repel mosquitoes.
A provisional patent for the same has been filed. Using vitamins and natural mosquito-repellent ingredients, it can keep mosquitoes away for 24-48 hours.
“Unlike other mosquito-repellent creams and lotions, you needn’t apply it all over your body. Even if you apply the shampoo to your head, it will protect your entire body against their attack,” says Puneet.
Reach and pricing
While the waterless shampoo is priced at Rs. 499/-, the body bath costs Rs. 549/-
Talking about scaling up the reach and making it affordable, Puneet believes if the product is made tax-free by the Government of India, consumers will be able to buy it for Rs 350, excluding 28% GST.
One of the prime reason for the competitive pricing is also that one bottle of 100ml saves 350 litres of water.
Clensta is networking with leading pharmaceutical product distributors to increase the reach of their products in in Hospitals, Defence, Paramiltary Forces, Home Healthcare, Adventure excursions, Railways etc. The biggest market for the products is currently the Indian Defense.
The booming home healthcare market with players like Portea may also benefit from it. Many Naxal-affected areas where secret operations are carried out are reaching out to them as well like Chattisgarh, Jharkhad, Orrisa etc.
Recently, a senior official from the Indian Navy connected with Puneet saying they were looking forward to using the waterless products in the Navy’s Submarine Operations.
Clensta has also been awarded a contract from the Andaman Nicobar Government. Through a fixed pricing model, hospitals across Andaman and Nicobar Islands can buy their products without any tenders.
Being a B2B Oriented market, the products have not been officially launched for the general consumer market yet. “We are working on the online sale. It might take another 3-6 months,” says Puneet.
But the core team including individuals from esteemed institutes across India like Dr. Ashish Pandey (Ph.D, IIT Delhi), Dr. Anurag Rathore (IIT-Delhi), Dr. V.M. Chariar (IIT-Delhi), Mohit Chelani (IIM-Calcutta), Jatin Dogra and Abhinav Guru (NSIT-Delhi), are working on identifying and expanding into more markets. The company is exploring strategic partnerships for funding, to strengthen their research and market reach.
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This entrepreneur with an environmental cause asks young entrepreneurs to take inspiration from the anecdote of the Greek soldiers.
“When Greek soldiers go and fight, the commanding officer orders them to burn their boats after reaching the island. So, the option is to either win or die on the battlefield, there’s no going back. When I started off, I pooled in my own resources. There were times when I contemplated shutting the venture down, thinking why did I leave a well-paying job to live without a salary for the past 18 months. But I did not lose focus. So keep your focus and don’t give up. Sink or swim, there’s no copping out.”