Most businesses launch purely in the pursuit of profit, but sometimes we come across startups with a bit of a humanitarian aim, as well. Finnish startup CosmEthics, which helps people find ethical beauty products, is one such company.
The platform, available for Android or iOS, enables users to check the contents of various beauty products by scanning the barcodes with their phones, which offers access to Wikipedia articles on various chemicals or alerts users to the presence of chemicals from a pre-set list (chemicals to which the user is allergic, perhaps). They can also set-up lists in order to avoid animal-based ingredients or plastics, for example. It is not necessarily an issue if users are not familiar with potentially-harmful chemicals (or just those they may want to avoid), as CosmEthics has singled out a few ingredients and created handy lists for different types of users (“Vegan”, “Aluminum”, “Plastics”, etc.) If the system does encounter one of these chemicals, users will see a “red light” next to it and therefore be warned. It does not just offer platform for checking for chemicals, however, as CosmEthics also offers alternatives to purchase.
CEO and founder Katariina Rantanen is no stranger to running a business, but this particular project was not necessarily planned. She tells me that the idea for the startup came to her as she looked for a tool to help patients with cancer find estrogen-free products. She did not find one and decided to go ahead and build her own, launching at TechCrunch London in October 2014. Rantanen tells me that the platform currently has 10,000 users.
CosmEthics has chosen to generate revenue through affiliate purchases and the development of an in-store (physical store) tool that directs users to cosmetics based upon their profile (be it vegan or lacking a particular ingredient to which the user is allergic).
Many European startups target their native continent or North America, but this startup is looking in the other direction with plans to launch in China at the end of this summer.