Isabella Palmgren, 29, founded the company Mimbly with fellow students in 2016, during her studies at Chalmers University of Technology. Five years later, she has been singled out as one of the most promising young entrepreneurs in Europe by Forbes in the social impact category.
“It means a lot to get the attention of such a large international player and be a part of their network. It is also valuable for the company now that we are planning to launch our product”.
Furthermore, it is also proof that the product, which is now in the test stages, can have worldwide potential according to Isabella.
“The fact that people seem to appreciate what we do, means that we have chosen the right product to move forward with.”
Saves water and removes microplastics
The company was founded during her studies at the master’s programme Entrepreneurship and business design
at Chalmers. In short, the innovation involves connecting a box to the washing machine to make it more environmentally friendly. Thanks to a built-in filter, users can wash with 70 percent less water consumption and save energy while removing dangerous microplastics.
“We have developed a solution that makes it easier for people to be sustainable, without them even having to think about it”, she says.
Isabella Palmgren and a team of other students at Chalmers came up with the idea by looking at different areas of use where humans consume a lot of water.
“We saw many documentaries and lectures that highlighted the importance of the washing machine in society. When it was launched, it was a revolution for women who no longer needed to hand wash. It is an innovation that has meant a lot but has not developed much. From that angle, we started to take the concept around the box further and try out possible prototypes”.
Worked together with Ikea
At an early stage, the company was hand-picked as the only Swedish start up in Ikea's accelerator programme. They received SEK 200,000 in grants, personal coaching from their business area managers, as well as access to Ikea's test lab and prototype workshop.
“We lived in Älmhult where Ikea has its headquarters for a few months and were in close contact with their innovation department. It was a useful experience, because we gained further insight into how to take a consumer product to a large market.”
Other partners have been Swedish real estate companies that want to implement the innovation in their laundry rooms. Last year, the company received a total of SEK 30 million into the company after an investment round, of which SEK 19 million was a grant from the European Innovation Council's fund for green innovations.
“It helped us to get the production started in our pilot project. We are testing out five boxes right now, with Stena Property and Bostadsbolaget in Gothenburg being some of our clients.”
Scaling up production
Already, the pilot testers see clear benefits of energy-saving and the investment pays off because water costs are being reduced. More boxes are getting manufactured in the old Electrolux factory Prodma in Mariestad. The plan is to get another 50 boxes out in laundry rooms all around Sweden by the autumn and then go into full production in 2022.
“In the long run, we see that our product could be used in the household as well, as an additional product or a new kind of washing machine.”
Text: Vedrana Sivac