Get to know ARI CARE - Techstars Sustainability Paris Accelerator

Oct 24, 2023

Merilyn Kesküla (CEO) | Arvo Antropov (COO) | Kelly Antropov (CPO)

Ari Care reinvents the industrial manufacturing of personal care products with a patentable hardware technology that eliminates water use in production.

1. Describe the problem/the industry that you are trying to mediate (and precise the UN SDG-s you are solving).

So far, scientific innovation, and especially innovation around industrial manufacturing of common personal hygiene products, such as liquid hand soaps, sanitizers and shower gels, has been largely non-existing or incremental. Sadly, the real problem has remained unquestioned for too long: when most liquid hygiene products consist largely of regular tap water- up to 95%(!) - that is available in most places around the world, why add it in the manufacturing phase, and thereby contribute to the huge amount of (plastic) packaging waste as well as CO2 emissions from transporting water-heavy products?

Up to this point, the most widely spread “fix” in the personal care field has been swapping the ingredients to organic ones. But this doesn't even scrape the surface of the real problem nor provide the necessary shift that the world needs. With Ari Care we realised: the industry needs to change from the root by re-designing and re-inventing the formulas and manufacturing methods of the most widely used products.

Ari Care is focusing on two UN SDG goals:

  • Goal 9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE Our goal is to promote the new wave of sustainable industries, and invest in scientific research and innovation to facilitate sustainable development.

  • Goal 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION We invest in efficient management of our shared natural resources, such as fresh water. We want to be the inspiration for industries, businesses and consumers to reduce waste in developed and developing countries alike, by creating products that are fully sustainable, yet low cost.

2. How did the idea to create the company come to mind? How did your team come to be?

Ari Care was founded by a young Estonian mother Kelly Antropov. She witnessed first hand the mindless transportation of water-heavy products while being stuck in a traffic jam with her young toddler. The hours spent sitting in a car amongst the huge trucks made Kelly contemplate about the way products are shipped across the world - and why couldn’t we only transport what is really needed, which, as she discovered later, means just 5% of a product, the active ingredients.

She applied for a grant and started working with the scientists from Tallinn University to develop the first powder-based formula for foaming hand wash and this was how Ari started. As the idea seemed to have a lot of potential, Kelly was joined by Arvo to support her with operations and logistics.

Merilyn joined about a year later, when the team needed a creative head, and she has since taken the lead as a CEO of Ari Care while Kelly is currently focusing on the strategy, vision and development behind new formulas and products.

3. Why did you choose to participate in the Paris Techstars accelerator program? What are you looking forward to the most?

We were eager to participate in Paris Techstars Accelerator due to the focus on supporting climate tech startups and we have been blown away by the strength and quality of the team, mentors and the community of Techstars. We are just starting to realise how important this step has been on our journey and being part of the worldwide community of Techstars alumni, investors and partners is something we are incredibly grateful for and excited about. Why go alone, when you can go together.

4. What are you the most proud of in your initial journey with your company?

Developing a hardware manufacturing company can be quite hard, so first of all we are very proud of our own resilience and motivation. The road has not been linear and we have come through pivots and restructuring, that has definitely made us stronger as a team as well as honed our focus.

We are also proud and grateful for the support and recognition we have gained since we started: winning Prototron Green Batch in 2022; being awarded the Startup of The Year 2022 certificate by Cleantech Estonia and chosen as the winner in Next Big Thing category at Climate Launchpad European finals have all been the milestones we look back to with pride.

5. How do you plan to measure the positive impact of your company in the next 5 years?

With Ari Care we are looking at three pillars, where we can have a measurable change in the personal care manufacturing industry:

  • Saving fresh water which is mindlessly wasted through outdated manufacturing methods, as well as for producing plastic packaging

  • Cutting plastic pollution

  • Minimising CO2 emissions from transport as we’re only shipping the active ingredients (6 grams of Ari powder-based formula makes a 300 ml hand wash when the tap water is added)

As we are developing the capacity for large scale production with our factories - first one will be opened in Estonia in summer 2024 - the goal is to be the go-to-manufacturer for the sustainability-focused brands and businesses in cosmetics and hospitality, as well as the chosen partner for public procurement. With just one manufacturing line, the production capacity is 450 tons of powder-formula per year. So in 5 years and with several production lines in place for local manufacturing, we can reduce the environmental impact significantly for our clients as well as inspire the industry to see that a different way is possible.

An average 40 ft shipping container fits 22 000 bottles of 300ml liquid soap or 5 million equivalent units of ARI products.

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