With toilet paper and kitchen rolls in its product portfolio for now, and more coming down the drain, Cloud Paper is a sustainable bamboo-based alternative to toilet paper made from any toilet paper generally made. The company has raised a $5 million round from an impressive cadre of investors to expand its product line and begin looking for more commercial applications for its products; commercial-size toilet paper and non-contact dispenser paper, for example. The company is playing celebrity bingo with its investors, drawing in checks from a star-studded pool of investors.
“Cloud Paper is on a mission to transform the paper products industry towards treeless products,” said Ashton Kutcher of Soundwaves. “We want to be a part of that mission and further consolidate our position in this space as Cloud Paper expands into retail and pursues an aggressive B2B strategy as well as increasing its DTC offering.”
The $5 million round includes investments from Bezos Expeditions (Jeff Bezos’ personal investment firm), Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures, Presight Capital, Soundwaves and Jeff Wilke.
The company’s two founders have followed each other from company to company, starting with Uber, then Trainbefore calling it a day and starting a cleantech company that wipes the slate—and our funds—clean.
“My co-founder and I met working on Uber in the early days when Uber was launching Uber X and ridesharing around the world. We were there at an incredibly unique time and saw the hyper-growth happen. So we worked together at Convoy – it’s sort of an Uber for trucks and the supply chain – and we spent six or seven years at these fast-growing startups,” explains Ryan Fritsch, CEO and co-founder of Cloud Paper. We sat down and said, ‘I think now is the time to enjoy this experience that we’ve built. What are we going to do? We knew we wanted to get into sustainability in a big way. The research led us to the impacts of the pulp and paper industry. Fast forward — we started the company in Spring 2019. We did an initial $3 million round led by Greycroft.”
From there, the company set higher goals; having sold over 3 million rolls of toilet paper to date, with a staff of just 8 people, the company is gearing up to make a much bigger impact.
“This year we are going to give B2B a big boost. That’s where we started, but we switched to direct-to-consumer during COVID. Certain industries – especially hospitality and travel – are starting to open up again. The commercial products these entities want are very different from what you see on our website now,” says Fritsch. “There will be all kinds of variations on paper towels and toilet paper. An arena, for example, doesn’t want a small roll of 350 sheets. They want that 3,000-sheet high-capacity jumbo roll. We are working on building our catalog – that is our focus for the next year.”
The numbers also make a lot of sense for the company; Cloud Paper has delivered 930% more rolls since the Seed Round and has increased its direct-to-consumer customer base by 230%. Business customers, according to the company, increased by 400%. The brand also saw a more than 800% increase in revenue during this period.
That’s a lot of paper rolls, resulting in 10,000 trees saved, the company suspects. It sources its bamboo for paper from China, where it can be difficult to trace the supply chain back to the bamboo plants themselves; How does Cloud Paper know that it is actually sourcing renewable, sustainably grown bamboo? The founder has a solid answer.
“We have a dependency on trusted third parties. This can validate the supply chain, especially supply chain sustainability. Last year, we were one of the first—if not the first—100% Bamboo brand to be FSC certificate. If you look at our direct competitors, you’ll see the same three or four names. We are the first to check the FSC box in terms of sustainable bamboo harvesting and cultivation,” explains Fritsch. “There is also an annual report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called ‘the fabric question’. Last year was the first year they included some of the newer bamboo-based brands. We got top marks from them last year. We continue to review other third-party audit organizations to ensure we have the transparency we need. Recently, we just received USDA Biobased Certification and we are looking out for others as well.”
The company claims its bamboo paper towels and treeless toilet paper saved more than 10,000 trees last year alone. This increase will allow Cloud Paper to make significant investments in its supply chain, product development and contracting.