Diapers created by MIT engineers? Yes! Kudos are the only disposable diapers to have 100% cotton touching baby’s skin. Cotton—“the fabric of our lives.” It is also super soft, sustainable and doctor-recommended to prevent rashes and eczema. Kudos have been certified by the strictest safety standard, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100.
Amrita Saigal is the brains behind Kudos, as well as the founder and CEO of the company. While she was pursuing her degree in mechanical engineering at MIT, her senior project was a sanitary pad made of sustainable banana tree fiber. This not only resulted in a successful project, but, after she graduated, the pads were put on the market by a company she co-founded, Saathi Pads.
After an MBA from Harvard Business School, Amrita turned her attention to disposable diapers. Your ordinary disposable diapers contain plastic polymers, phthalates, chlorine, alkylphenol ethoxylates, quaternary ammonium compounds, halogenated organic compounds . . . . I could go on, but it all becomes white noise. Suffice it to say that these things are as nasty as they sound. Even nastier.
Amrita has gone beyond sustainability. She wants “elegant sustainability,” products that are sustainable, functional and aesthetically pleasing. She wasn’t going to simply replace those plastic diapers with the cloth diapers of old—too much work, too much time needed, too too unpleasant a task. And that’s how those engineers at MIT got to working on diapers.
Benefits of Kudos Disposable Cotton Diapers
The only material touching your baby’s tender bum is the 100% chlorine-free cotton liner. Other disposable diapers may feel soft and “cottony,” but they use non-breathable plastic materials (e.g., polypropylene) for both the liner and and the outermost layer.
Kudos diapers are free from anything that can irritate baby’s skin: no fragrance, no harsh chemicals, no latex. The cotton, in particular, doesn’t require intense chemical processing.
Kudos absorb seven times more excess moisture than other brands. Patent-pending DoubleDryTM technology absorbs moisture and locks it into the diaper’s core. Thousands of tiny funnels direct the moisture away from the skin and prevent it from returning. Baby’s bum is dry and safe from diaper rash.
- If all diapers were made the Kudos way, 500 million pounds of plastic a year would be replaced with clean, unbleached natural cotton, and an annual 2 billion pounds of fossil-fuel derived diaper materials would be sourced from renewable materials.
- The 100% cotton material uses one-fourth of the energy to produce than polyester does.
- No dyes are used on the pure natural cotton.
- Cotton is considered carbon neutral.
- Cotton needs a lot of water to cultivate. Therefore, the US cotton industry is striving to be more sustainable. Innovations have reduced irrigated water applications by 45% and increased fiber production without expanding acreage.
- Packaging is sustainably-sourced and recyclable. The green PE bags are made from sugar cane.
Kudos Diapers Foolproof Layers
Layer 1: The top sheet (liner) comes into contact with baby’s skin. It is the first and only disposable diaper with an 100% cotton liner.
Layer 2: The Acquisition/Distribution Layer (ADL) is a marvel of engineering that makes Kudos diapers more effective than cloth diapers at keeping baby dry. The ADL is created layer-by-layer (both layers are plant-based: sugar cane and cornstarch) to have a lot of air pockets to help moisture move away from baby’s bum. Kudos DoubleDryTM offers two layers of protection in place of the usual one for overnight protection.
Layer 3: The absorbent core comprises three parts:
- The core wrap that holds the absorbent materials in—think the bread on a sandwich.
- The fast-absorbing fluff pulp made from trees that facilitates the transfer of moisture into the final part of the core, the SAP.
- The Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) can not only absorb 20 times its weight in liquid, but also hold it in, even as baby squirms around.
Note: Unfortunately, SAP is derived from petrochemicals, but scientists are out there making great strides in developing bio-based SAPs. As soon as a plant-based option is available, Kudos will be right on it.
Layer 4: The breathable barrier film keeps moisture inside the diaper so that outside of the diaper stays dry to the touch.
Layer 5: The back sheet (outer cover) is super soft material. After all, it’s the first thing you feel when picking up baby (instead of the fossil-fuel-derived plastic in other disposable diapers). It is made of sugar-cane-derived polyethylene, which is naturally soft and sustainable.
Kudos Diapers: Prints with a Purpose
Kudos has adorable and artfully designed prints that also make baby smarter! The prints capture babies’ attention according to their cognitive development stage.
Sizes 1 & 2: Newborn to 6 months, 7-14 lbs., for development of vision and color recognition
High contrast of blue elephants and squiggles on a white background. Plus the elephants have eyes to engage babies who search faces of adults for their eyes.
Sign language print
Designed for the whole family to communicate with hand signals. Teaching sign language to nonverbal babies is a great way to communicate. Also, each hand is a different color to start teaching baby colors.
Size 3: 6 to 18 months, 14-22 lbs., baby can recognize geometric shapes and will listen to music
Children as young as 6 months can recognize distinct shapes. This print has circles, triangles, polygons in bold contrasting colors. Our Kudos science character (the U-shaped beaker) has large eyes that babies might connect with.
Babies and toddlers love to dance. They like music so much that they’ll smile as they sit and listen all by themselves.
Size 4 to 6: 18 to 36+ months, 20+ lbs, can start exposing babies to equations and astronomy
This print builds on earlier prints with shape discernment and high contrast colors, with a dash math stirred in. Never too soon to get your baby on the STEM train! Each diaper change could be a mini math lesson.
As your baby looks to the sky, introduce him or her to the stars, planets, moon and spaceships.
Kudos for Kudos!
- Kudos received the 2021 Hygienix Innovation Award, a recognition of its excellence by fellow engineers and materials scientists. It was the first time this personal hygiene industry’s top award was given to a diaper.
- In 2022, Kudos earned an Honorable Mention in Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards.
- Also in 2022, Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA), the leader in trusted consumer product awards, honored Kudos with its coveted Trust Mark.
Kudos in the Shark Tank
In Season 10, Episode 14 of Shark Tank, Amrita Saigal from Kudos pitched for an investment of $250,000 for a 5% equity stake in her company, valuing it at $5 million. Kudos is known for its eco-friendly disposable baby diapers. The sharks, Mark Cuban and Gwyneth Paltrow, offered a counter proposal of $250,000 for a 12% stake. After negotiations, they agreed on $250,000 for a 7% equity stake and 3% advisory shares, bringing the final valuation to $3.57 million. Saigal highlighted that her product is plastic-free and 20-50% more expensive than average diapers, though the profit margins in this industry are generally thin.
|Kudos’ Original Ask||$250,000 for 5% equity|
|Initial Valuation||$5 million|
|Investing Sharks||Mark Cuban & Gwyneth Paltrow|
|Counter Offer||$250,000 for 12% equity|
|Final Deal||$250,000 for 7% equity, plus 3% advisory shares|
|Final Valuation||$3.57 million|
Kudos Update After Shark Tank
After appearing on Shark Tank, Kudos has seen considerable developments in its business. By 2022, Kudos achieved sales of $850,000 and projected to reach $4.5 million in sales by the end of 2023. The company has not yet reached profitability, having reported a total loss of $1.5 million since its inception. However, their growth trajectory remains promising.
In addition to their main product, Kudos introduced premium wet wipes, with plans to launch training pants and swim pants in the near future. The company’s commitment to innovation is evident, as they aim to make their diapers 100% biodegradable once a natural alternative to the petrochemical-based Super Absorbent Polymer is developed.
Kudos secured significant funding to support its growth, raising $2.4 million in a seed round in June 2021 from nine investors, including Foundation Capital, XFund, PJC, Precursor Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures, SV Angel, UnderscoreVC, and Alpha Bridge Ventures. This funding has been crucial in supporting the company’s expansion and product development.
The company has gained recognition for its innovative approach, winning the Hygienix Innovation Award in 2021 and earning accolades like the Trust Mark by Parent Tested Parent Approved and an honorable mention in Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards in 2022. These accolades underscore the market’s positive reception of Kudos’ products.
Kudos continues to operate successfully, featuring in various prominent media publications such as Fast Company, Forbes, and The Boston Globe. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the company employs a small team of 2 to 10 people, indicating a lean and focused approach to business operations.