Green Britain: Lupe to follow cordless cleaner success with eco hygiene helpers

Since launching its recyclable Pure Cordless model last autumn after five years development, the Bristol online startup has seen strong sales in the US as well as the UK. Growth forecasts are for £7million turnover next year and £14m in 2023. The machine costs from £569 and each part can also be replaced. “We wanted to create a reliable, long-lasting product, not fodder for landfill and shake up the whole home technology arena,” says co-founder and ex-Dyson engineer Pablo Montero. 

As Earth Day (April 22) highlights the climate crisis and degradation of the natural world, the UK’s latest plan is to slash emissions by 78 per cent within the next 14 years. Currently it generates 1.5 million tons of electronic waste every year while appliance sales have jumped during lockdown.

“The last generation has been all about newer and better,” explains Montero. “But people have changed, they are more aware of the environmental problems that brings. We felt there was space for a new brand that embodies how people think now about their environmental footprint.  

“We started several years ago but the latest trends show that was right. We are the only vacuum cleaner brand that offsets the carbon footprint of every product we sell and we aim to be carbon negative by 2023.”  

Lupe’s patented Suction Intensifier technology tackles two particular problems associated with cordless cleaners - their mediocre performance and the batteries’ run time.

“Most people never give the brush head on machines a second thought but they’re very complex,” says Montero.

“Many of the components aren’t needed in anything else so there was no impetus to improve them. We focussed on that. Heads let in a lot of air which wasn’t seen as a problem as the motor’s power compensated - the machine just worked harder. But tighter regulations about energy wastage are changing that.

“The head we’ve developed is more efficient, the seal enables better suction picking up dirt and the cleaner operates on a lower power setting, making better use of the batteries. There’s less need for replacements and when required we can provide them - meeting any right to repair rule that comes along.”

But, as the saying goes, producing “hardware is hard” and the company is making its way in a sector stuffed with big brand multinationals.

“We were told we were mad when we started, but this is a volume market with room for a revolutionary newcomer,” declares Montero. 

Design is in the UK where it has a team six and recruited during lockdown. Manufacturing is in the Far East. “That’s the commercial reality for a startup like Lupe, however much we wanted to make in the UK. The costs and little enthusiasm meant it has not been possible,” Montero adds.   

After £2.5 million investment through equity raises, enterprise support and crowdfunding, Lupe will look for a further £400,000 this spring to support global growth. 

Online has proved the place to be during lockdown – but the company is also planning a shift into new era physical retail by renting stands or kiosks to showcase its models. 

“If you think of cool and sexy tech you don’t think of a vacuum cleaner,” says Montero, “but Lupe is green and clean and changing that.”  

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