Detergent subscription startup smol has raised £8m in a Series A funding that will enable it to expand its service to new markets.

Founded by former Unilever executives Paula Quazi and Nick Green, smol differentiates itself from established rivals with products that it claims are greener, cheaper and free of animal fats.

It also ships its products directly to UK customers in what is thought to be the world’s first completely plastic-free child-lock packaging, shaped to fit through letterboxes, which it says saves 4 tonnes of plastic each week.

Its combination of affordability, environmental credentials and direct shipping model have proved a hit with consumers, particularly amid the pandemic, and smol is currently the fastest growing brand in the UK laundry space.

Today’s funding will enable smol to add additional products to its line, which currently consists of a laundry detergent, fabric conditioner and dishwasher tablets, as well as grow its team and expand into new markets. And while it has not specified which, its website does include a teaser for US customers.

The funding round was led by Balderton Capital, with Jamar Investments also investing in smol.

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Smol funding follows surge in consumer interest amid lockdown

The funding of smol follows a significant uptick in customers amid the pandemic, as lockdown-hit consumers shopped increasingly online, and embraced subscription services offering regular deliveries.

This saw interest in the startup triple since March, which smol has so far been able to capitalise on. It now is setting its sights on the laundry leaders, with hopes to disrupt the wider market.

“When people think of technology disruption, it is normal to think of digital products and internet tools. However, technology has the power to make life better for us in the most unexpected ways and we believe Paula, Nick and their amazing team have tapped into just such an opportunity at smol,” said Suranga Chandratillake, partner at Balderton Capital.

“Household cleaning is a great example of a product category where giant incumbents have ignored potential innovation. Smol has exploited that complacency, built a product people actually want and, as a result, got people excited about laundry and dishwashing all over again.”

Read more: Coronavirus-killing laundry startup nets £1.4m for “space-age” services