If you've experienced parenthood, you're well versed in the surprisingly small world of disposable diapers. Help may be on the way.
Kudos, a startup that is looking to reinvent the disposable diaper with sustainability in mind, announced the close of a $2.4 million seed round of financing today. Investors include Foundation Capital, XFund, PJC, Precursor Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures, SV Angel, Underscore VC, Alpha Bridge Ventures, April Underwood and more.
Co-founder and CEO Amrita Saigal says that Kudos is the first and only disposable baby diaper to earn the cotton natural seal from Cotton Inc. for having 100% cotton touching the baby's skin instead of plastic. They're also made with four times more plant-based materials than the top disposable diaper out there.
Disposable diapers are made up of many layers. Your average disposable diaper from brands like Huggies, Pampers, etc. employ petrochemicals, fabrics like polyester and a whole lot of plastic. In fact, despite how soft it feels, most disposable diapers' top sheet (the part that touches your baby's skin) are made of plastic.
Kudos uses organic cotton in place of that, and focuses on using green materials, with the absorbent core of the diaper made of wood fluff pulp that is totally chlorine free and harvested through the Forest Stewardship Council.
All that said, Saigal explained that performance is just as important as the composition of the diaper, saying that most parents feel that going to a more eco-friendly product sometimes means trading on performance. She explained how parents often have a much higher standard for products for their babies than they do for their own products.
"When I'm thinking about feminine care products, I might go to an eco-friendly product and it'll be a pain if it has a little bit less performance but I can handle that for myself," said Saigal. "But with parents, if their kid gets a rash it affects their life and their sleep. When it comes to diapers, parents aren't willing to give that same leeway for a sustainable product."
You might be wondering, as I did, about the defensibility of a product like this. What's to stop the big players from developing a more sustainable, cotton-based diaper.
According to Saigal, the big brands would need to overhaul their entire manufacturing process to switch from plastic to cotton. Saigal actually left a career at P&G, which is where she met Kudos' diaper engineering advisor Jim Keighley (her former boss at P&G).
Here's what he had to say about it, in a prepared statement:
Big brands would need to do a complete overhaul of their bonding equipment, since the pressure technology they and everyone else uses for bonding only works with plastic-based materials. It just won't work with natural materials. That would take a big investment of time and money, while detracting from their flexibility to run current products, which are market leaders.
Kudos operates on a D2C subscription model, offering a monthly box based on your baby's changing size and weight, for $78/month. Folks can also purchase a box (with a three- to five-day supply) à la carte for $14.