Swarm: Transforming Insect Repellent with Style and Safety

Sophia Mokotoff
Jul 8, 2024
swarm team photo

As climate change progresses, mosquitoes and insect-borne illnesses have spread to the United States and surrounding areas. Amidst this growing issue, insect repellant serves as a protective and essential nationwide safeguard. Ali Lee, a rising senior at Weinberg and founder of Swarm, developed the idea of an aesthetically pleasing repellant that prevents insect-borne diseases and reduces the inconvenience of bites, transforming insect repellent into an desirable item.

While participating in a Little Joe Ventures (LJV) Fellowship retreat for personal development, Ali conceived the idea of Swarm with a simple yet powerful question: how can we, as a startup, improve consumer products?

Joined this summer by Gio Cacciato, Weinberg ‘27, Dalia Diab, McCormick ‘26, and Jonathan Lee, Weinberg ‘27, the discussion soon turned to insect repellants due to the nation’s rising temperatures and influx of mosquitoes. As the idea of transforming insect repellant developed, Ali and her team delved deeper into research focusing on how this enhanced insect repellent could come to life.

Insect repellent, while crucial, often has a strong chemical scent and feel, and rarely presents branding that is pleasing to the eye. As a result, consumers tend to associate insect repellent with negative aspects and health reservations. Swarm aims to change this point of view by introducing an insect repellent that not only deters mosquitoes but also attracts consumers with its appeal. “The look is the easiest on our end to solve first, while also trying to prioritize the feel. Later on, we want to focus on the scent as we are able to further customize our product,” Ali shared.

In its basic form, Swarm is an all-natural insect repellent lotion that aims to improve the appeal and effectiveness of traditional bug sprays by offering a more pleasant scent, feel and aesthetic. This product seeks to make insect repellents more desirable for consumers while addressing the growing need for insect disease prevention due to climate change. Swarm plans to provide effective insect prevention while also offering a visually appealing, chemical-free option to consumers.

Introducing Swarm: an all-natural insect repellent lotion. Swarm focuses on providing a new and improved feeling, convenience and overall appeal of bug repellent while emphasizing its day-to-day use. Swarm plans to incorporate the ingredients of the traditional insect repellant that protects our skin and bodies, while taking a positive spin on the aesthetic look and feel of a lotion product instead of a spray, making it more appealing to consumers. Swarm differentiates itself as a product, as it stands out visually while remaining free of the chemical smell and feel of conventional bug spray. Ali’s goal is for Swarm to be a “product that people want to buy, instead of having to buy.”

Swarm’s target audience includes individuals who genuinely care about their purchases and those who need insect repellent in their daily activities. Swarm brings the idea of enjoying outdoor get-togethers and activities in comfort and style. Ali’s main goal with Swarm is to increase insect disease prevention, which is becoming more prevalent for staying safe and secure from various bugs and diseases. In the future, Ali and her team aim to obtain EPA certification for a product with active ingredients that will repel insects for more in-depth nature-based activities such as hiking and camping.

Ali joined the Jumpstart program motivated by her desire for a structured and uplifting environment that enables her to hone her craft while receiving support and feedback from like-minded individuals and staff. While working independently on a startup, she finds it important to be self-directed in an inspiring and collaborative space. Ali shared, “Having the structure of Jumpstart has been fundamental to the progress that Swarm is making, and in this sense, it has made running my own company much easier.”

Swarm represents a modern approach to insect repellant, combining effectiveness with aesthetics to meet the needs of consumers! With continued innovation and dedication, Ali and her team are looking forward to offering a product that protects consumers while enhancing their user experience with aesthetics and comfort. Moving forward, Swarm aims to expand to markets nationwide!

Stay tuned for more information to pre-order Swarm!

About the Author

Sophia is an incoming junior at UGA, studying Advertising and Business at The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Sophia joined the team at The Garage as a summer intern to support the 2024 Jumpstart Pre-Accelerator program.