When it comes to the smells of cigarette, food, or pets that have already seeped deeply into our homes, there is not much that can be done to eliminate these odors and not to irritate others. Especially, when a lot of people are in a confined space such as in a subway, office, or classroom, unpleasant body odors typically cause discomfort and embarrassment. Kang and Ahn thought that fragrance can be a means to show consideration for others. It was a struggle to devise with a product that would have the advantages of both perfume and deodorant while safely removing the fundamental cause of bad odor and adding fragrance.
“Before making an odor decomposer, we bought more than 50 deodorant products on retail shelves. Some products contained pernicious ingredients with limited fragrances while others needed improvement in their designs as they seemed to be inconvenient to carry around. Our first step was to gather things that were stinky and had bad odor. We took out old military boots and sneakers that one of us had been wearing for 5 years. We steeped cloth fibers in cigarette smoke for 6 hours to create a nasty smell. After collecting and analyzing all the smelly things, we found out that there were things that all had odors that people disliked. These odors had formaldehyde and ammonia that caused a bad smell that irritated the olfactory sensory receptors.” However, the two encountered difficulties as neither of them possessed any chemical knowledge or know-how to eliminate this odor.
KU alumnus gladly passes on deodorant secrets to help the challenges of current KU students
After analyzing a product that they considered to have deodorization effects, Kang and Ahn impulsively knocked on the door of the manufacturing company of the undiluted solution in an effort to find out more about the ingredients. The two surprisingly found out that the owner was a KU graduate and they felt that they met their savior. “Just when we thought that we had hit a wall, we were fortunate to meet and receive help from a KU seonbae, who was already living a life as a businessman. He took us to his factory and told us how to make a solution that could eliminate the cell membrane of the odor-causing cells.”
With the help of an unexpected mentor, the two were able to make a safe and verified solution. Unlike deodorants in the market that use alcohol ingredients to remove odor, Whale Company’s products are specialized in decomposing the molecular structure of malodorous substances through complex amino acids, which fundamentally removes the cause of unpleasant odor. In addition, deodorizing ingredients made of natural grain extracts have passed the safety and skin irritation test conducted by the Korea Environment Merchandise Testing Institute. However, this was not enough for them. They wanted to add a pleasant fragrance to the deodorizing function.
“During our research, we realized that many deodorants use cheap fragrance to reduce cost. However, we wanted to make products with high-quality fragrances that can have a role in influencing consumers’ purchase decisions.”
Whale Company collaborated with a fragrance maker to create eight types of fragrances including “Rainy Seoul” with an aqua-oriented scent, “Florida Sunset” with a citrus-oriented scent and applied them to the undiluted solution. Deodorizing products sold on the market use only lavender fragrance at a low cost. Whale Company’s products, on the other hand, are basically made out of more than 20 types of various raw ingredients to deliver luxurious scents.
The relationships with our customers are our assets.
Delivering happiness through fragrance
Whale Company has already entered its third year of business. Kang and Ahn started analyzing consumers’ responses in February 2017 and received crowd funding from Wadiz prior to launching the pocket refresher in 2018 and started selling products in Kakao Makers. Year 2019 marks the first anniversary of selling their products. This year, they plan to expand their business by rebranding their brand.
“We aim to go beyond simply staying in the deodorant market and create a brand that allows more people to feel happiness through fragrance in their daily lives,” Ahn explained. What seemed to be a reckless challenge in the early months of their start-up in 2017 turned out to be another new beginning for an infinite challenge in 2019.