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NINU: The Customizable and AI-Powered Fragrance Model of the Future

Published April 14, 2022
Published April 14, 2022

Fragrance production has seen some exciting innovation in recent years such as AI-created formulas and bioengineered raw materials. However, the very packaging for these liquid dreams has remained untouched since the invention of the perfume atomizer by Peter Florjančič in the 1950s, preceded by the creation of the medical atomizer in 1887 by Dr. Allen DeVilbiss.

Florjančič inspired fellow Slovenians and NINU co-founders Marko Matijevic and Simon Mohorovič, who aim to change the delivery systems of perfume with the world’s first smart perfume. The duo have even referred to NINU as the “Tesla of fragrance.” 

“The idea has evolved through time. The first inspiration was to make an atomizer which can be triggered by a touch button. After starting to look into the industry more, we got to know a lot of other pain points, which we could resolve with putting some technology inside the bottle,” Matijevic recounts. While Matijevic and Mohorovič devised the initial idea in 2015, R&D for NINU began in the spring of 2018, with Matijevic and Mohorovič attending perfume school, realizing the infinitely customizable nature of fragrance. They debuted the final product at CES 2021. 

NINU, named after one of the first female perfumers in Babylonian Mesopotamia, offers 100 scents in an electronically driven spray bottle, personalizable and customizable through an AI-enhanced, Bluetooth-connecting app. Inside the container are three 25ml recyclable cartridges, each containing a complementary base, which can be worn on its own or mixed with the other bases, as well as be adjusted in intensity. The app not only tracks scent tendencies but suggests different scents depending on occasion—work, a date, a meeting, sport, a night out. Alternatively, the consumer can create their own desired combinations. There are currently three sets available—unisex (Aura), masculine (Terra), and feminine (Flora)—due to arrive in customers’ homes by June 2022, with additional digital discovery stations on the horizon.

“In a few years or decades from now, people will be wondering why everyone was wearing the same fragrance every day.”
By Marko Matijevic, co-founder, NINU

The Flora bases are composed of sweet and fresh aromas, featuring the Philodendron accord with notes of tuberose, jasmine, coffee, tonka bean, and vetiver; the Verdure accord with facets of cedar wood, rhubarb, and red fruits; and the Amazonica base containing pomegranate, yuzu, peony, magnolia, and rose aromas. Aura bases focus on earthy facets: Spiritus contains ambers, sandalwood, cardamom, grapefruit, ginger, and pink pepper; Estuary has neroli and pepper ingredients; while Caelum is comprised of magnolia, violet, tuberose, peach, and plum mixed with cashmere and sandalwood. The Terra accords focus on traditional cologne notes, with an emphasis on woody components. Mesa uses labdanum, rose, incense, and leather; Malachite combines marine notes, styrax, bergamot, elemi, and sage; Rift blends lavender, patchouli, tonka, and bergamot.

The scents, available in 25% (extrait de parfum) concentration, were created by a team of perfumers overseen by Dominique Moellhausen, winner of the Perfumer of the Year award at the 2020 Beautyworld Middle East Awards. “She was the perfect match for this project, she understands this new technology and the evolution of the industry,” Matijevic tells BeautyMatter.

Originally, its founders wanted a B2B model, but due to COVID’s effects on not just funding but also the global supply of alcohol needed for production, they had to pivot to emphasizing a consumer-first plan. To date, the brand’s Kickstarter campaign, which launched in November 2021, has raised €70,615 ($77,273). “We went with crowdfunding because it makes it easier to start manufacturing. What is even more important is that we got more than 200 pre-pledgers and received a lot of different ideas and feedback from their comments, really precious information that made NINU into what it is today,” Matijevic states. Crafting a product with the people who will ultimately buy it is a collaborative approach which efficiently gauges demand and secures a baseline revenue. While NINU’s founders appreciate the independence of crowdfunding, they are not ruling out investors or strategic partners in order to accelerate company growth. With personalized beauty products expecting a 7.9% CAGR over the next five years, the odds are certainly in their favor. “Connected devices and personalization are definitely the future,” Matijevic comments. “In a few years or decades from now, people will be wondering why everyone was wearing the same fragrance every day.”


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