CEO’s Who Give Back: Ryan Lupberger from Cleancult
By Yitzi Weiner
“We are offering 25% of all profits made to an island relief fund to help alleviate the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, the biggest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years.”
had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Lupberger, the Founder and Chief Soap Officer (CEO) of Cleancult, a company started for millennials by millennials to revolutionize the non toxic cleaning space in the USA. Ryan is a social impact entrepreneur committed to fixing green brands and making them sexy, effective, and convenient for today’s user. He delivered a talk at TEDxVail on Why Millennials are Done With Green Brands and Why It Matters based on his research.
Yitzi: What is your “backstory”?
I always wanted to be a social entrepreneur. When I was young, I had the opportunity to intern for TED and also work with the Unreasonable Institute which supports social entrepreneurs who are solving the world’s greatest problems. After a stint in Latin America and Asia, I realized that businesses with the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit could really drive change in a meaningful way. So, I attended Babson College to learn how to build such a business.
While at Babson College I used a green laundry detergent and it simply didn’t work very well. At the same time, I knew of the harmful chemicals in conventional detergents (there are no ingredients listed on the back of laundry bottles). When I talked with my friends they all laughed and said green cleaners ‘suck’ because they don’t clean at all. So, with the help of a lab in California and a partnership with the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, we developed a green detergent that actually works. As we know, conventional cleaners are toxic. They contain chemicals like 1,4 Dioxane and Phosphates which are considered harmful to people and to the planet by the US Department of Health and Human Services. According to a Nielsen study, 90% of millennials will go green in their lifetime and 72% are willing to pay more for it. Cleancult’s priority is to overcome green product stereotypes and to attract the next generation of responsible purchasing buyers.
Simultaneously, our goal is to become the first “Made in Puerto Rico” and #1 non-toxic soap brand that’s distributed in the U.S. and to hire 50 Puerto Ricans by the end of 2020. We want to demonstrate that Puerto Rico can be the best place for entrepreneurs to start, truly build a business, while also helping the island. We are committed to the island, even after all of the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. Many do not know that about 60% of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry was based in Puerto Rico (during the 1990s) so there’s tremendous talent on the island and passionate researchers, manufacturers and developers waiting for good-quality jobs.
By building an excellent product that helps people and hiring in a place that needs more jobs but has wonderfully talented individuals, we can create a triple bottom line business that will meaningfully drive some real change.
Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
The funniest story was probably when we just launched Cleancult. We just working on the formulation and packaging and we were invited to a pitch competition way too early. We still didn’t have a prototype, so I stopped by a Dunkin Donuts, to get the large, cardboard box of Box of Jo coffee. We pitched it as a new and innovative packaging that went against traditional plastic laundry bottles. When people asked to smell our detergent...which was coffee in the box...we said it was sealed and that they could try it later. The funny part was that we won the competition.