Diluteze aims to provide a simpler, safer way to handle chemicals
Dublin-based start-up intends to protect those using weed killers and detergents
Diluteze founder Simon Ruddy first spotted the gap in the market for a safer way of handling chemicals when working as a salesman with hygiene and cleaning products company, SC Johnson & Diversey. Photograph: Corin Bishop
Diluteze is a Dublin-based start-up that designs products to help and protect those using potentially harmful chemicals such as weed killers and harsh detergents.
The company’s founder is Simon Ruddy who first spotted the gap in the market for a safer way of handling chemicals when working as a salesman with hygiene and cleaning products company, SC Johnson & Diversey. “I developed a keen interest in innovation and saw opportunities every day to make improvements in the products I was selling,” he says.
Ruddy spent two years doing market research and exploring potential product designs before setting up Diluteze in January of this year. The company’s first three products will go on sale in early 2019 and Ruddy expects to be employing about 13 people within five years.
“Manufacturers everywhere are under increasing pressure to reduce the amount of plastic packaging they generate,” he explains. “This presents a particular challenge for the chemical industry as chemicals by their nature require stronger, more robust packaging. The industry’s approach so far has been to reduce pack sizes.
“However, this has had the unintended consequence of increasing concentrations to much more hazardous levels. With consumers already confused by differences in diluting instructions between manufacturers, this move to more highly concentrated packs has resulted in a 12 per cent increase in chemical burn injuries, costing employers in Ireland alone close to €9 million annually.
“Our products tackle both issues by providing safe, accurate dilution, thereby reducing the risk of injury while also facilitating ongoing efforts by chemical manufacturers to safely reduce pack sizes and consequently plastic packaging.”
The company’s first group of products comprises a watering can, a knapsack sprayer for domestic use and a mop bucket for the facilities management sector. All have a built-in reservoir that stores the chemical, an easy to read measuring system and a button that releases the chemical into the water.
“Our solution simplifies and standardises the dilution of all concentrated chemicals irrespective of type or brand,” Ruddy says. “The Diluteze inner dilution cavity can be designed to work with most of the everyday receptacles used to mix and dispense concentrated chemicals used around the workplace, at home and in the garden.”
The company’s order book is open and beginning to fill up. At the moment, customers are buying based on CAD drawings as the prototypes are in the process of being signed off and Ruddy can’t file the patents until all the technical details are finalised. “Those working in DIY shops and garden centres are constantly being asked about diluting chemicals so they could immediately see the benefits of Diluteze without even having the products to look at,” Ruddy says.
Diluteze will be developed as both a B2C and B2B business with key target markets in the horticultural, cleaning, and facilities management sectors initially. The additional 12 products Ruddy has in the pipeline will broaden the company’s reach into the hygiene, laundry and industrial markets. Ruddy has plans to move into the UK market in 2020 and into Europe in 2021.
The products require a manufacturer competent in both injection and blow moulding and Ruddy is in the throes of nailing down a suitable producer. “We will have product ready to ship in quarter one next year and expect 65 per cent of sales to come from sector specific channel partners selling through large multiples and DIY chains. The balance will be split between online and direct to trade sales,” he says.
Ruddy has self-funded his start-up and has managed to contain costs so far to about €30,000. The company has received support from the New Frontiers programme at IT Blanchardstown and from Enterprise Ireland through its Innovation Vouchers scheme, which allowed the company to tap into the plastics expertise of Athlone IT.
The company is about to launch a seed round to raise €500,000 to bring its first three products to market.