Howard Carter had powerful personal reasons for founding Incognito Anti-Mosquito after a successful business career in magazine publishing. In 1997 he came down with malaria in India, only to then contract dengue fever the next year in Thailand.
“Lying in bed at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases recovering from dengue fever,” Howard recalls, “I began thinking that there must be a better way to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. I’d been using a product based on DEET, the best known active ingredient in mosquito repellents, and that hadn’t worked for me. What’s more, I discovered that there’s research indicating that mosquitoes are building immunity to DEET, and that it could cause health problems. There had to be something better.
“I spent several years travelling the world, looking for natural ingredients that were both non-toxic to humans and repellent to mosquitoes and other insects. I spoke to doctors, nurses and shamans looking for the perfect formula, and along the way I met my wife Patricia who is also my business partner.”
By 2006, Howard had come up with a formula, one that he has since refined and improved. “I decided it was time to take the plunge and turn this into a business and that’s when I contacted the Portobello Business Centre, which I’d known in my previous career as a publisher.
“Colin Rutt was assigned as my business advisor and he’s been a huge help with all the practical side of getting a business off the ground. At one point, we were ready to throw in the towel, mainly due to the complexities of arranging production, but Colin’s encouragement kept us going.
“We had a soft launch in 2007, with a full launch in 2008. An early success came when Harrods started to stock our product. I also went on to Dragons’ Den around this time, and an offer was made that included me giving up 40 percent of the business, an offer I was able to refuse.
“Now, we’re selling in outlets like Waitrose, Planet Organic, Holland & Barrett and Whole Foods Market, and we’re exporting to 15 countries. We’ve also broadened our product range which as well as spray includes roll-on, moisturiser, hair and body wash, and even incense sticks.
“Colin has been incredibly helpful to us,” Howard continues, “When he went to the West Indies for the cricket, he not only used Incognito, he told everyone he met about it. He helped us to negotiate the complicated world of import and export, introduced us to important contacts and advised us on business strategy. The Portobello Business Centre is a great resource, and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone starting out in business.”
Incognito Wins the #QueensAward for Enterprise in Sustainable Development 2015