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Nohbo - Personal Care Pods for the Waste-Free Modern World

A single use water soluble pod that eliminates the need for plastic shampoo, conditioner, body wash, or shaving cream bottles.

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26 22

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Nohbo is a patent-pending delivery system that aims to rid the world of excess plastic waste resulting from the consumer products industry. Nohbo started three years ago with an aim to find out why so many people don't recycle shampoo bottles. I came to discover 4 out of 5 people admit they don't consistently recycle any items from their bathroom. That equates to roughly 1,200 football stadiums worth of shampoo bottle waste in the US alone! (Study conducted by Caretorecycle.com, a Johnson & Johnson program) 

I thought of the idea, and within months, recieved the heavy support of companies like Hyatt Hotels and the Clorox Company. I teamed up with a patent law firm, the Marbury Law Firm, who offered us a pro bono/deferred payment arangement, due to their excitement of this green innovation. I eventually hired a chemist, and built a team, to help form Nohbo as the world's first single use water soluble personal care product. We were featured on ABC's Shark Tank, (Season 7 Episode 18) and secured an investment for $100,000 from Mark Cuban. Fellow Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec said this could be one of the most successful products we've seen on Shark Tank. Following the episode airing, Nohbo launched a successful Indiegogo Campaign, which was fully funded in just 3 day, and for over 200% of our goal. Nohbo was featured in Forbes, Success, Inc., Entrepreneur, HuffPo, etc. 

Upon releasing the first line, complications in delivery arose with our first version Nohbo Balls, where a small percentage of orders had their products arrive damage, due to structural instability. 

Here's a quick video of our Nohbo Ball prototype in action:


To combat this issue, we began to incapsulate product in water soluble films, and transform them into a gel format from a solid dehydrated form. This small change made a big difference, contributing to their more universal look and size, reducing costs by over a third, and positioned the product to scale much faster and easier then ever. Tentatively named, Nohbo Drops, aim to sweep through the hotel market and eliminate useless unnecessary plastic bottles with a bottle-less solution that's good for the planet and the user.





Right now, we have only released a shampoo line, but have plans and the IP coverage to release a shaving cream, conditioner, and body wash line within the next year. Nohbo has been the subject of interest from numerous corporations, hotel distributors, and hotels. Our Shampoo Pod line has a release date of November 2017. 


Check out Nohboball.com to learn more. Our website is however currently being updated to reflect our newest line!



AS SEEN ON:

ABC's "Shark Tank" Season 7 Episode 18

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/life/2016/02/26/mark-cuban-ben-stern-shark-tank-nohbo-ball/80761742/

http://www.businessinsider.com/nohbo-founder-shares-lessons-learned-from-mark-cuban-2016-3

https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/trangho/2016/04/06/shark-tank-mark-cubans-16-year-old-protege-reshapes-the-11b-shampoo-market/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/under30network/2016/03/15/mark-cuban-finds-his-mini-me-in-a-16-year-old-entrepreneur/#604f3c3a2c52

http://spacecoastdaily.com/2016/02/16-year-old-entrepreneur-benjamin-stern-of-melbourne-to-be-featured-on-shark-tank/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/young-entrepreneur-1.4144717

https://kidbacker.com/entrepreneur-spotlight-benjamin-stern/

http://www.tanktalkers.com/talkers/ben-stern

http://www.newhope.com/business-resources/first-things-first-patents-matter-your-brand-strategy

http://www.newhope.com/business-resources/walk-you-run-interview-benjamin-stern-17-year-old-founder-nohbo

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/sciencetech/video-1290847/Revolutionary-shampoo-balls-help-cut-plastic-use.html

http://www.inc.com/anna-hensel/nohbo-shark-tank-next-mark-cuban.html

http://sharktankblog.com/business/nohbo/

https://www.bustle.com/articles/142344-nohbo-from-shark-tank-isnt-available-yet-but-may-soon-change-how-we-think-about-many

http://podbay.fm/show/610268668/e/1458934919?autostart=1

http://www.flgov.com/2016/08/02/governor-rick-scott-recognizes-ben-stern-with-young-entrepreneur-award/

http://www.campinc.com/2016mentors/

http://www.influencive.com/top-30-entrepreneurs-30-creating-life-terms/

http://fortune.com/2016/09/15/18-entrepreneurs-under-18-teen-business/
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/277534

http://www.success.com/article/10-smart-life-lessons-from-successful-teenage-entrepreneurs

http://kwhs.wharton.upenn.edu/2016/05/mark-cuban-mini-me-on-work-with-an-investor/


Nohbo Promo Video:


Updates For Refinement Stage

We bought a factory right here in Melbourne, Florida! Nohbo cannot keep up with the heavy demand, so after I received news that a local cosmetic manufacturing plant was for sale, I jumped on the opportunity. The 15,000 square foot facility enables us to scale and grow at the rate hotels are demanding. 


Here are a few photos:





We have scheduled a new focus group to improve consumer education in mid September. One of the biggest challenges for us will be teaching the hotel consumer how to use each product, without having to call the lobby downstairs for help. The focus group will provide insight on which strategy works best for this. Our Circular Design Challenge advisor suggested this would be the best approach.


Packaging for the retail market has improved new designs. 



Lastly, we have progressed further in the R&D for our conditioner pod. A minimum viable product (MVP) should exist for this SKU within the coming weeks. 




Idea Title

Personal Care Pods for the Waste Free Modern World

Company / Organization Name

Nohbo, LLC

Website

Nohboball.com (under renovation)

Where are you / your team located?

Melbourne, Florida

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

Instead of reducing, reusing, or recycling, Nohbo aims to replace excess plastic waste in our showers. The user simply takes one Pod, places it in their hands under shower water, and scrubs their hands together to transform an everyday product into a lathery mixture of either shampoo, conditioner, body wash, or shaving cream. No plastic bottles are used in the process, or disposed of at the end!

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Our core consumer market applies to earth conscious individuals who participate in outdoorsy activities, such as hiking, traveling, or just showering at home. Geographically, our goal is to become emerged in the American market before proceeding to the Southeast Asian countries, such as India.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Domestic expansion, followed by international expansion.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

I envision Nohbo becoming immersed as a solution to the countless bottles that end up in landfills each and every day. I am introducing this solution to the hotel market first and foremost, while maintaining and growing a consumer presence domestically. Following that, we plan to expand internationally. The main obstacles include expenses associated with scaling, such as machinery, high volume orders of raw materials, etc. and market adaption to a brand new delivery system to an age old method.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.
  • Full-scale roll-out: You have developed a pilot, tested, and analyzed the impact of that pilot as it pertains to the problem scope. You are ready to expand the pilot significantly and begin to scale.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

If fortunate enough to be selected to work with the New Plastics Economy Accelerator Program, my goal and how I would define success here is to release a retail ready line of Nohbo products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and shaving cream), as well as expand to at least 50 individual hotel chains within a year of the accelerator's completion.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

I thought of Nohbo after watching a documentary on the in's and out's of the plastic bottling industry while sitting in a biology class freshman year. I went home to take a shower, and scooped out the last remnants of shampoo from the bottle. As I went to throw the bottle out, I realized for one, I was never taught to recycle practically anything from the bathroom, and two, my mother was using a laundry detergent tab. The idea quickly hit me like eureka, and I began to research further into it.

Tell us about your work experience

I founded Nohbo in 2014, when I was a freshman in high school. I worked at sub shop at 14, Jersey Mikes, and a grocery store, Wegmans, to save up money to invest and start my company, Nohbo.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Nohbo is a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Please describe, in detail, your business model and how you intend to test and iterate this model.

Our business model is a three-tier process, to effectively target the commercial and private sectors best. First and foremost comes the hotel market. In the US, there are just under 55,000 hotels. The majority of which order from a handful of distributors, such as Cisco, American Hotel Registry, Marietta Hospitality, etc. Following that, we have plans to target retail/wholesale clients, and the GSA government purchasing database.

Please explain how your innovation will work within, potentially improve, and provide benefit to the plastics system.

In any market, whether it be hotels or individual consumer driven ones, Nohbo aims to neither reduce, reuse or recycle. In our mission statement, we clearly advocate to replace the need for plastic bottles. From production where our film is created that dissolves safely 100% in water, to sulfate free shampoo offerings, not harming our marine life, our goal is to exemplify zero waste in the most ethical fashion available.

Please describe, in depth, how your solution will reduce the overall environmental footprint of packaging.

Nohbo uses less water waste due to a concentrated shampoo mixture. Our products can ship more soundly and more washes per pack then a regular case of shampoo for wholesale hotel clients. All other packaging uses biodegradable material in a perfectly rectangular shape to fit the most amount of product into a box, reducing excess carbon emissions, further so following the boxed water concept.

Please outline how your design, material, and delivery choices will influence price, and how you intend to address the price increase that may result from this solution.

For the hotel market, we remain cost competitive, due to mini individually packaged bottles being a direct competitor. As for the retail market however, there is a justified price increase, since the time/material it takes to produce each pod is more expensive then a cheap quality bottled shampoo product. Our strength lies here in convenience, portability, and a new experience, which will help with customer acquisition.

Please explain how your solution will impact user behavior, and what design considerations you've included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions with your Idea. 

Consumer education is one of the trickiest obstacles we will have to tackle before mass adaption. Starting with the hotel market, each pod will have its use printed on. Alongside that, a framed brochure will rest near it clearly describing how to use each pod using pictures. We have a planned focus group to test this method in September. From its results, we will determine, tweak and revise the instructions as needed.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

If we are fortunate enough to be selected as a Top Idea, the grant money will go towards a specific type of customized OEM Hydroforma machinery, increasing productions speeds, decreasing costs, and helping to scale to fulfill large hotel orders.

26 comments

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Comment
Photo of Anne
Team

You can't use the term "water soluble pod" when its a ball of product that releases from its dry form to a liquid. Ask P&G and WSFilm manufacturers about the term.

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Benjamin!

We have received your Refinement Phase Submission Questions! Just a friendly reminder that the Phase closes tonight, August 31st at 11:30 p.m. PT. so please update your contribution on the platform before the deadline.

Thank you for all your work this Refinement Phase and for being member of the OpenIDEO Community!

Photo of Soren
Team

What is your comment on the polymer, PVOH, you intend to use as a film material?

Have you asked NCEA (https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-national-center-environmental-assessment-ncea) about the environmental impact when the dissolved polymer is released into nature via the drain?

The MSDS for PVOH (http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927396) - section 12 - is not really very clear?

Any comment would be appreciated!?

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Benjamin!

There are 7 days left in the refinement phase.

If there is key information in the comments on your idea submission, I recommend that you move them to the main body of your idea submission before the cut-off time.

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Hi Kate,

Working on making the revisions now. Thank you!

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Benjamin!

Welcome to the refinement phase!

It would be good to know more about how Nohbo balls might need to be adapted for developing markets. Would the current water soluble film keep the product intact in humid climates? What sort of cost reduction would be needed for Nohbo balls to compete with single use shampoo sachets?

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me by tagging me here (@ followed by my name) or send me an email - krushton@ideo.com

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Benjamin!

When are you next going to have some Nohbo balls in stock?

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Hi Kate -

We're gearing up to have our Nohbo Pod launch in the Fall of 2017!! We sold out of Nohbo Ball's, and this new line launch takes priority over refilling old stock unfortunately.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Thanks, Benjamin! I will wait until the fall.

Would you consider Nohbo Balls to be in tier 2 or tier 3 for this challenge and why?
https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/c4faae34-3c15-484b-93f2-36f1366ce07f.pdf

Photo of Benjamin
Team

This has me a bit stumbled. We aren't pre-rev, and have launched a successful line, which leans me towards tier 3, but the pod line has yet to commercially be released, which has me thinking tier 2. I'm sticking with Tier 3 for now, but if you think I should drop to tier 2, I'd be happy to do that as well!

Photo of Soren
Team

Hi Benjamin,
What a great idea! We wish you the best of luck! Now that you use polymer films, you can scale your business! We just wonder: Why do you focus on the hotel segment? All your impressive traction so far (from media, competitions, investors from TV-shows) is due to end-users being tired of the 12oz shampoo bottles! From the hotels you have received a pretty lukewarm reception! Why is that? Well, in hotels you will face the following:
a) Stiff competition: There are already a lot of refillable systems on the market (see e.g. http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3856/amenity-dispensers-a-tipping-point-for-the-lodging-industry). Also please note that your competitors deliver a solution (refillable dispensers + liquid soap), not just a stand-alone product.
b) Reduced power of your primary selling point: The hotels do not refill hotel dispensers using 12 oz shampoo bottles. The efficiency is way bigger as the refilling containers are bigger.
c) Unmotivated users: Some of the guests at the hotel will be tired and jet-lagged and just wanting a quick shower. Not the best time to convince them to use something new and unknown.
Why don't you just make some polymer film wrapped shampoo aimed at already interested end-users and sell (e.g. via Amazon Prime) to the right target group (first-movers)?
Sorry for sounding like "old farts" but we really wish you to succeed!

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Hi Hans & Soren,

Thank you for the feedback! From what I've noticed in the hotel industry, they are constantly seeking eco-friendly solutions, as their star rating can be increased by greener amenities. There is little competition for single use dosages in the industry, and they order in massive quantities. Higher end hotels, chain hotels with environmental initiatives and boutique hotels are less inclined to use dispensers, as they tend to have a worse customer reaction according to hotel distributors we are working with. Dispensers still create loads of waste too, only reducing the waste by a max of 70%. Even though they are an improvement on the existing bottle, they have their drawbacks. Here's an interesting article about them that can describe the setbacks better then I can: http://www.greenlodgingnews.com/refillable-dispensers-versus-cartridge-dispensers/

With Nohbo, nearly all amenity waste is removed from the equation. The high quantity based orders can help us to scale easily, while dramatically reducing our costs.

With that said, we still have plans to launch a consumer-driven line directly online this Fall. What excites me most, and where I believe we can have the largest impact is in hotels though.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Congratulations again, Benjamin! https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/17/06/p9639757/teen-inventors-of-bottleless-shampoo-and-wasteless-urban-composter-win-

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Thanks!!

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Benjamin!

It is great to see you in the challenge.

I would recommend including a link to your website in your idea post - nohboball.com - so people can find out more about Nohboballs (and maybe even buy some).

You might want to consider including some links to some newspaper articles e.g. http://gazettereview.com/2016/08/nohbo-update-shark-tank/

How are the Nohbo balls packaged for hotels? Would they be individually wrapped and branded?

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Hi Kate,

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll edit the page today to include that info.

As for your questions, the hotels will receive each Nohbo product in a big recyclable bulky box, wrapped in a plant plastic film bag to contain them in a controlled setting. Ideally, there would be a pod holder made of bamboo that stays in each room permanently. A maid would just drop product in daily to replace the mix. Nothing is wrapped individually anymore. As for branding, our films can be printed on to say the Hotel's logo or name.

Photo of Vignesh Stack
Team

I think this IDEA got funded by sharktank

Photo of Paul Sharp
Team

Great idea.
I see this as being capable of completely replacing polluting sachets in lower socio economic markets.
If Unilever adopt this form of delivery you could end the significant problem of sachet plastic pollution and change the world.

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Thank you @Paul Sharp! That's the goal.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Benjamin,

I wanted to congratulate you on being a featured contributor for this challenge! Visit the Ideas page to see your featured post.

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Hi @OpenIDEO,
Thank You!!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Benjamin,

Excited to see you joining this challenge. We noticed your post is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top.

We're looking forward to seeing your contribution in this challenge.

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Hi!

Just working to finish up the draft right now!

-Benjamin

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Would you be able to confirm you are over 18 or, if not, add a parental guardian as a team member to your project?

I look forward to seeing the final submission.

Photo of Benjamin
Team

Yes, I am 18.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Thank you, Benjamin :-)