But there is one plant based repellent that is trying to change the market for good, with a formula that is not only highly effective, but 100% natural too.
Journey of a lifetime
When Howard Carter contracted malaria and dengue fever while travelling in Kerala in Southern India in 1998, it changed his life in more ways than one. Firstly, he got sick, really sick. In fact, he was so ill that he spent more than six months recuperating after discharge from the hospital of tropical diseases and still suffers today.
But secondly, and much more positively, he found the inspiration for incognito. During his recovery, Howard, who had always been interested in science and inventions, decided he needed to invent a repellent that would actually protect against malaria.
“I started working with Dr Nigel Hill, one of the world’s greatest entomologists. He was very patient, very nurturing, and he helped me understand, in scientific terms, the basics of what I was trying to achieve.”
Howard embarked on a research project which saw him tour the world three times, testing natural ingredients and talking to experts. “My dream was to invent a completely natural repellent so I met with health professionals, doctors, nurses, chemists,even shamans, even shamans, anyone who could offer any insight into how you could protect against malaria,” says Howard.
He came up with 100 ingredients to test and took them with him as he travelled through high-risk malaria regions. By his third trip, Howard had come up with an entirely plant based formula that worked against all insects, and following testing by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, incognito was clinically proven to protect against malaria.
“We approached Triodos when we realised we needed to raise a significant amount to take the business forward.”
Howard Carter, founder, incognito
During this third trip, Howard met his now wife and incognito co-founder Patricia Conlon. She was very impressed with the formula and told Howard that he had to take it to market.
One hundred percent
In 2007, they formed the company and launched incognito’s signature product, the spray. There was soon a lot of interest in what they were doing; not only were they offering a completely natural product that actually worked, but all packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable, incognito’s HQ is a sustainable building and the company also gives 10% of profits to charity.
The company was expanding fast. It had been funded so far on the couple’s own money and an overdraft facility from Triodos Bank, but they needed bigger investment, so turned to Triodos again, this time for a share issue. “We approached Triodos when we realised we needed to raise a significant amount to take the business forward,” explains Howard.
“Their corporate finance team were excellent and advised us to set up an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) share issue. This was a great success; it raised almost £400,000 of development capital which is being used to develop a new repellent sunscreen, to be launched in 2015.” Howard says the message is clear –if you want to protect yourself and the environment, go natural.
“incognito is improving people’s holidays, and more importantly, saving lives.”
Howard Carter, founder, incognito
“Every bottle of incognito sold is one less bottle of pesticide polluting the environment. Plus, it is clinically proven to be effective against mosquitoes, midges, sandflies and ticks. incognito is improving people’s holidays, and more importantly, saving lives.”
Words: Rachel Mason
Natural insect repellent company incognito was founded in 2007 by husband and wife team Howard Carter and Patricia Conlon. In 2014, after a period of rapid growth, they approached Triodos Bank for investment to fund further expansion. The Corporate Finance team at Triodos Bank put together an investment memorandum under the Enterprise Investment Scheme – EIS income tax relief is available at 30% of the cost of shares. The share issue raised £360,000 in three weeks; this money is being used to develop the business and product range.
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