For investors
07 Dec 2021

Meet founders: Krupa Zerowaste

The growing awareness of the environmental problems and the issue of consumer waste and pollution has seen a growing number of sustainable businesses emerging all over the world. But what’s it like to run an eco-friendly business?

Meet founders: Krupa Zerowaste

The growing awareness of the environmental problems and the issue of consumer waste and pollution has seen a growing number of sustainable businesses emerging all over the world. But what’s it like to run an eco-friendly business?

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?

Misha: My professional career spans across a variety of industries and roles. I’m always fascinated by new technologies and usually can’t resist an opportunity to learn and build new things. I started in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and travelled extensively between New York, London and Bangalore. After 5 years based in New York, Kira and I decided to move to Moscow, as the pace of development and technology adoption there seemed exhilarating at the time. I spent the next three years launching and growing Uber in Russia as one of the very early employees and was eventually in charge of the Marketplace Efficiency team. Since then I’ve launched and failed several of my own business ideas, was a CEO of a trucking logistics marketplace, a business development manager for an industrial drones manufacturer, and currently, I’m responsible for launching new business products at the last-mile logistics platform, Borzo (previously Dostavista). I honestly did not believe in multitasking before, but having two kids, a full-time job and operating a retail business taught me that nothing is impossible :)

Kira: I’ve been into the arts all my life. I studied architecture and moved to New York to immerse myself in the art world. As an art history student at Long Island University, I visited key museum exhibitions in the city, regularly attended gallery openings in the Chelsea art district and later, as a graduate student at Sotheby’s Institute, I travelled across the world to see the best of contemporary art at art fairs. While living in New York, I gained experience working at contemporary art galleries, the Russian art museum in New Jersey and the online auction platform Artnet. In 2014, we moved to Moscow and I immediately became involved in the local art market. First, I worked at the largest contemporary art fair in Russia, Cosmoscow. And later, I held the position of art advisor at Arts Wanted consulting agency. As an art advisor, I built collection strategies, took part in auction sales on behalf of clients and negotiated logistics and insurance of artworks in clients’ collections.

Misha and Kira: Kira is an amazing mother to our kids – Mira, 3 y.o and Mark, 1 y.o, and she manages to give them plenty of love and care while also keeping our brand and store looking fabulous and creating a constant stream of partnerships with other brands and manufacturers! She is my true inspiration.

Kira and Misha, co-founders of Krupa

What made you start a zero-waste store?

Kira: In December 2019, our family (Misha, our 1-year-old daughter Mira and I) moved to Saint Petersburg. Shortly after that, the coronavirus pandemic began. Like everyone else, we stayed home and I decided to take a course on Coursera  – ‘The Age of Sustainable development’ by Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University. Concerned about the new virus and all the other hazards that the future might bring to our children, I grew more and more concerned about ecology, climate change, air pollution and consumer waste. We began to sort waste properly – plastic, paper, glass, metal and organic waste.

Soon we discovered a zero-waste store almost next door. An opportunity to buy groceries and cleaning supplies without packaging was a real gift to us and so we managed to considerably reduce our household waste. In June 2020, we found out that the owners of that store were looking to close their business. By that point, we already lived a low-waste lifestyle and really didn’t want to lose the opportunity to do so. Besides, we had a tremendous amount of ideas of what could have been done better at this store and thought that it was a great opportunity to bring these ideas to life.

How have things changed in the store since you became the owners?

Misha: Our first challenge was to move our store location to another street nearby as it turned out that the rent agreement was not secured for the long term. We picked a better location though and were able to turn it around and re-launch the store just within a month while keeping our existing customers happy by offering online ordering & quick delivery.
We also invested in increasing inventories in order to never run out of must-have items, as well as hand-picked tens of new manufacturers and brands into our product line-up. As a result, our revenues and active customer base both doubled over the last year, and the frequency of returning customers has increased considerably.

Kira: The new location allowed us to build the space we wanted from scratch – a minimalistic spacious white cube interior with neat wooden racks filled with grain dispensers. We’ve put lots of time and effort into making zero-waste shopping convenient for our customers. Also, in the new store, we expanded the range of eco-beauty products: eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty-free, package-free. And most of the products are made locally, in Saint Petersburg! Also, we added more alternatives to single-use items, that’s a very important step towards a low-waste lifestyle: high-quality reusable drinking straws, coffee cups, water bottles, produce bags, feminine hygiene items. Our most recent addition is a wide selection of vegan and plant-based alternative foods.

Who are the customers of Krupa?

Kira: First of all, our customers first are those who strive to live a zero-waste lifestyle. They sort waste, bring their own bags and containers when shopping and care about the quality of products. Besides grains, we sell vegan food –  plant milk, tofu products, vegan meat substitutes and even vegan desserts. So vegans are another important customer group for us. Local residents from our neighbourhood are our loyal clients as well. For them, we are a great alternative to the chain retail supermarkets with high quality, fresh and delicious products from local producers.

Kira: From the beginning we wanted the store to be an attraction point for all eco enthusiasts in the city, to become a space to meet, share news and ideas. We regularly hold open meetings for our customers with producers of eco products, owners of eco-businesses and eco coaches at our store. At the entrance, we have five containers to collect rare fractions that can be recycled, so our customers feel motivated to bring their plastic cards, toothbrushes, receipts, bottle caps and blisters with them. Our Instagram account is also a great source of useful and inspirational info on the zero-waste lifestyle. We think it is necessary to demonstrate how easy it is to shop package-free so that more people would want to try it.

Also, it is fundamental to explain why ​​overconsumption and unsustainable resource use are extremely dangerous. Yet, we believe that it is better to do at least something instead of trying to be perfect. In December we are going to partner with TEDxKarpovka. The idea of organizers is to make this event as eco-friendly as possible, so we will be handing out snacks in zero-waste style – trail mixes in glass jars that the visitors will be able to come and reuse at our store.

Krupa Store, Saint Petersburg

Do you have an online store?

Kira: Yes, we do. The opportunity to buy package-free is not limited to our offline store. We deliver all of our products in returnable containers on the same day. Anything from cookies, nuts, or quinoa to laundry gel and toothpaste. A very special feature is that our couriers use bikes or public transport instead of cars, in order to minimize the carbon footprint during delivery. When delivering an order, couriers take back reusable containers from our customers and return them to our store to be washed and used again.

We also regularly take part at local crafts markets where a broader public can get to know us and all the wonderful reusable alternatives to single-use items.

What’s your vision for the future of Krupa?

Misha: Obviously, we are preparing for the future of Krupa in the zero-waste metaverse. Really, though, we believe in increasing our digital presence, further expanding our delivery network by covering more areas (and hopefully, cities) to reach more people. Our main mission is to introduce a zero-waste lifestyle to as many people as possible, and it makes more sense to reach the audience online these days while providing an easy and convenient experience offline through delivery.

Krupa Store, Saint Petersburg

Krupa is an inspiring example of being simultaneously a socially conscious and economically sustainable for-profit business. If you want to contribute to a greener and brighter future, you’re welcome to join Krupa’s funding round on Scramble this December!

To participate in the financing round, visit and (if you haven’t done so already) sign up for an investor account. Our community team follows up with all customers to keep you updated on the financing round details and help you navigate the process.