Designer laundry detergent start-up takes out top prize

A startup building practical and ethical solutions to laundry detergents has taken out the top prize at The University of Queensland’s Accelerator Pitch Night Online.

UQ alumnus in business management, Ian Ling, and UQ researcher in biochemistry, Kok Leong Chong, won the $5000 Shane Chidgzey Young Entrepreneurs Prize for Kurin Organics, one of five startups showcased in the ilab Accelerator program run by UQ Ventures.

The duo aim to transform the laundry industry and its use of harmful chemicals with their subscription-based designer laundry detergent that is customisable, plant-based and 100 per biodegradable.

“Kurin Organics has developed a proprietary formula that dissolves in water and creates the world’s first soap-free raw denim wash, eliminating the need for a washing machine,” Mr Ling said.

He said just this year, people have bought around 2.2 million pairs of luxury raw denim jeans with an indigo dye that makes them unwashable or dry cleanable.

“If you put these jeans in the washing machine the fabric weakens and fades too quickly.

“Using our detergent, you soak the jeans for fifteen minutes, then rinse.

“The dirt particles between denim fibres are expelled, while acidic and basic odour molecules are neutralised into an odour-free state.”

COVID-19 also forced the startup to rapidly pivot its business model from customisable laundry detergents to antibacterial hand soaps to meet the growing hygiene demands of the pandemic.

Kurin Organics and other founders pitched their startups to industry experts, Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, Leanne Kemp, founder and CEO of a safety and inspection checklist app, Luke Anear, and multi-award winning Australian entrepreneur and Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Carl Hartmann.

Leanne Kemp said the ilab Pitch Night was a success of epic proportions.

“The gloom of COVID was put to one side and we witnessed a night of great aspiring founders, excellent minimum viable products and truly scalable businesses,” Ms Kemp said.

“Kurin Organics created a startup that set out to solve a problem – preventing nasty and invasive detergents running into our waterways and the reef.

“I’m convinced that now more than ever is the time to embrace innovation.

“The world has some big problems and we need people to step up and find solutions.

“We need people with an innovator’s mindset: one that looks for opportunities and embraces change and ambiguity.”

The 2020 ilab Accelerator cohort also included Open Inductions, PhysiSqueeze, RapidCheckIn and Valiant Space.

All founder stories can be found here.

Image caption 1: Kurin Organics cofounders Ian Ling and Kok Leong Chong

Image caption 2: Luxury jeans next to frozen peas

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