- Serial entrepreneur Sarah Paiji Yoo has raised roughly $100 million in the last decade for startups.
- Becoming a mother inspired Yoo to leave the fashion and beauty industry to explore clean tech.
- Her latest startup, Blueland, makes environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
Sarah Paiji Yoo has been an entrepreneur for over a decade, leading her ecommerce fashion startup Snapette through an acquisition. She’s also scaled several other fashion and beauty companies through her startup studio, Launch.
But her latest startup, Blueland, makes sustainable cleaning products. Yoo pivoted her focus after she became a mom and became acutely aware of how harmful cleaning products can be. She wanted to help create something that would make the world a better place for her sons.
“I was really inspired by people who were living a zero waste lifestyle. But then quickly realized how difficult that was and how our world was just not set up to support that lifestyle. So I took that need and turned it into a business idea,” Yoo said.
Blueland’s product is a single glass bottle that comes with a dissolvable tab of cleaning solution, which can be used to clean all kinds of surfaces. After that, users can buy additional dissolvable tabs for $2 apiece. The product reduces the reliance on single-use plastic bottles, which consumers often buy when they head to their local stores and buy their favorite cleaning products.
To date, Blueland has raised $3 million in a seed round led by Global Founders Capital with participation from Comcast Ventures, Sweetgreen cofounder and co-CEO Nicholas Jammet and others. Yoo also landed a deal with investor Kevin O’Leary on the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” two months after the company launched in 2018.
As a mother and evolving entrepreneur, Yoo is working to lessen the impact her other startups have on the environment, while still leading a scalable business with Blueland. The fashion industry alone contributes to 10% of global carbon emissions, and more than 85%of clothes end up in landfills.
Having spent years in the beauty and fashion industry, Yoo had never embarked on a journey to create a cleaning product.
“In fashion and beauty, you don’t need technical expertise, it’s something that you could pick up more readily. But going into cleaning products and facing the difficulty of wanting to create what has never been done before was much harder than I could have ever imagined,” Yoo said.
When developing her startup’s cleaning solution tabs, Yoo wanted them to work like dishwasher tabs or laundry detergent pods, but without the dissolvable plastic wrapping. That’s because once that plastic dissolves, 75% of it still makes its way into waterways and soil, according to a study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
To avoid using single-use plastic for the cleaning solution tab, Yoo had to reach out to cleaning product manufacturers and formula developers. At first, the process was difficult and experts in the space had trouble guiding her to create the tabs, largely because most cleaning solutions are liquid. But all of Yoo’s hard work came to fruition when Blueland was able to develop the cleaning solution tab .
For Yoo, it was about doing the right research online, consulting industry experts and expanding her network to help develop her ideas.
“Lack of experience in a space is not an excuse to not pursue a good idea. Time and time again we have done things that a lot of industry veterans have told us is impossible,” Yoo said. “You’ll be surprised how far you go if you’re determined.”