After experiencing traditional hand washing items, Curan Mehra knew there was an opportunity to reimagine the category and deliver something better. Little did he know a worldwide pandemic would catapult his brand, gelo, into a best seller on track to generate $10 million in sales in less than a year. Developed with the idea of eliminating excessive waste, gelo launched in April with a shatter-proof bottle made with recycled plastic that’s meant to be reused for up to eight years, along with concentrated hand soap refill pods, designed to be activated by water. A starter kit, with four refills, costs $7.

“Concentrates have been around for years, but most of them come with a green tax,” explained Curan. “Comparative products cost twice as much so it becomes difficult for them to become part of a daily routine. The other thing that happens is that many products are not thoughtfully formulated. For us, what we put inside the pod matters, especially since people wash their hands multiple times a day. The ingredients are nourishing, dermatologist tested to be safe for sensitive skin, and soothing essential oils provide an elevated and sophisticated experience.”

Pod scents include Sea Mist, Mineral & Freesia; Clean & Dye-Free; Lemon, Basil & Geranium; and Cucumber, Melon & Jasmine Flower. Users drop two pods into the bottle, fill with water and experience the gel pods transform into a fuss-free liquid soap. Within the first 15 days of launching, the brand sold one million pods, which Curan credits to a combination of the sensorial aspect of watching the pods disperse, and renewed consumer interest in the category.

“I had been working on this concept for years. Prior to the pandemic it was weird to start a conversation with people about washing their hands. But all of a sudden everyone was talking about hand soap,” he said. “Consumers began telling other consumers and becoming enthusiastic advocates for the brand. Our purchase to review rate is three times the national average for hand soap.”

While the hand washing category is the brand’s primary focus, Curan hints that there are other opportunities in personal care to apply the technology.

“I think there are still things to unpack in hand soap, but we are actively work on innovations within other categories,” he said.

Gelo is currently sold in over 1,000 doors within retailers including, Meijer, HEB, Hannaford, Save Mart, Foodmaxx, Lucky, United Grocers and Urban Outfitters. The business is privately funded.