The Craftory, a London-based venture capital firm focused on environmentally friendly start-ups, says it has agreed to invest $10 million in Dropps, a Philadelphia-based home-laundry and dish-soap maker that packs its product in dissolving pods.
“Anyone can see" that the supermarket-based U.S. detergent business “is crying out for innovation,” Ernesto Schmitt, co-founder (he uses the title “Arch Crafter”) of the venture capital firm with $375 million in assets, said in a statement.
Dropps sales total more than $10 million a year, says owner Jonathan Propper. The company has been backed up till now by “friends and family,” added Propper, former owner of shirtmaker Conshohocken Cotton Co. and scion of a longtime Philadelphia business family (his uncles started the Propper Bros. furniture store in Manayunk).
Propper developed an earlier generation of Dropps pods with his mother, Leonora Propper Schwartz , in 2005, under the brand Cot’nWash Inc. Its pods were sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond stores and tested at Whole Foods Markets and Walmart stores. But by 2009, the mass manufacturers that Propper calls “Big Laundry” had begun stocking brand-name pod boxes in supermarkets, and Dropps was squeezed off store shelves.
He rebuilt the concept as Dropps, selling the pods direct to consumers, by subscription plan, in “sustainable packaging,” which the company says “saves money, time, water and plastic.”
Propper says a 9-gram dose of Dropps (less than a third of an ounce) can clean a load. It is delivered in a “water-soluble film made of poly-vinyl alcohol” that dissolves in water. Shipping takes two to three days. Propper won’t offer expedited shipping for "environmental reasons.”