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Sustainability in a (Mim)box

Mimbly (IH2O’20) is creating sustainable laundry solutions through its Mimbox. This revolutionary technology focuses on efficient water usage and plastic pollution at the household level. We had a conversation with Isabella Palmgren, Co-Founder and CEO of Mimbly, to learn more about her journey in this space.

Isabella, tell us a little about yourself and Mimbly

I am Mimbly’s CEO, so I’m the designated public speaker, plane inhabitant, and traffic cop.

I love the thrill of new experiences and being pushed outside my comfort zone. Experimenting with different jobs from the age of 14 and living on four continents opened my eyes to societal problems and gave me a holistic view on what needs to be done to ensure a healthy planet. Those experiences led me to starting a company that focuses on solving problems related to sustainability. At Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, I developed a background in Entrepreneurship, Business Design, and Bioengineering.

My adventure with Mimbly started off as a student project. Our team came from different parts of the world and different backgrounds. But our passion for the sustainable use of water brought us together.

How did you get the idea for your company?

We started Mimbly by focusing on a problem in water misuse that didn’t have a solution. Presently, an average household spends about 10–40% of its water on laundry. Since cleaning clothes does not require drinking water, we knew there had to be a more sustainable solution. So the idea of the Mimbox emerged and we developed the first laundry water recycling system. I just couldn’t believe it didn’t exist yet.

At what point did you decide to turn your idea into a business?

Once we had the idea, we threw all the rest of my Masters’ ideation process in the trash, and focused exclusively on this. Chalmers University of Technology has a fabulous incubator, so we had access to so many resources as we were putting together the commercial and technical approach. The initial project ran from 2016 to 2017 but we knew from the reaction of the market that this had really struck a chord. The combination of saving money on water and energy together with the “doing good” aspect of collecting microplastics and becoming more sustainable was a great selling point to our customers. We incorporated in 2017 and here we are!

What were some initial challenges when starting this business?

Our biggest initial challenge was convincing people to use recycled water for their laundry. Households in Sweden are becoming more aware about their water use but we still don’t face water scarcity or high water prices. As a new company, you need a forcing factor, and that wasn’t going to come from pricing — things are improving but it’s not there yet. So it was important for our team to work together and develop a compelling business model that could change a business’s water consumption habits, before we move on to households.

What are Mimbly’s 2020 priorities?

This year, we are focusing all our energy towards testing our prototype with our 19 pilot customers from across Sweden, and bringing the Mimbox into production. The response to what we’re offering has been so encouraging. We just deployed our first box this month, and the initial data is excellent so we’re excited to execute for the rest of the year.

Update us on what’s been going on since being selected into the IH2O Accelerator 2020

Well, all startup founders need cash as it’s the gas in the gas tank for the company. So it was a huge deal for us to close our first external investment round. It’s a really straightforward, helpful, insightful group of investors and it has already transformed how we see the rest of this year. Combining that with all we have planned with IH2O means that the next couple of quarters have filled up fast!

What is IH2O to you in 3 words?

Energy boosting & educational