Inspiring People

Meet the Entrepreneur Behind the Trendy Hand Sanitizer You’re Seeing on Instagram

Touchland Hand Sanitizer Founder Andrea Lisbona

When Andrea Lisbona traveled from her native Barcelona, Spain, to USC’s® Marshall School of Business℠ for a semester, something stood out to her: Virtually all of her classmates carried the same three items. “Mobile, keys, and hand sanitizer,” recounts the Touchland® CEO and founder. And she heard the same complaints about hand sanitizer from everyone — it smells like alcohol, it feels sticky, it makes skin dry, or it spilled all over their bag. It was a lightbulb moment.

Lisbona took those complaints as both a miniature focus group and a personal challenge, leading her to one question: How could she make hand sanitizer better? “I have always been a big fan of Steve Jobs and [his philosophy of] reinventing stuff that isn’t good enough,” she explains. “I was fascinated that, for years, no one thought about making a product people actually enjoy using.” After business school, Lisbona set off to learn more about the hand-sanitizer industry, working in distribution for a company based in Europe. In 2015, she decided it was time to strike out on her own.

As luck would have it, an international manufacturer was looking for a start-up to partner with and incubate at the same time. “They ended up investing over $1 million in dedicated equipment and FDA testing and everything,” says Lisbona, who is in her mid-thirties and now lives in Miami. “And that allowed us to dream big.” Touchland officially hit the United States in November 2018, appearing in retailers that might seem weird for a hand sanitizer — think Urban Outfitters® and Revolve® versus the usual drugstore chain. But that was all part of Lisbona’s plan to turn Touchland into a beauty product. Let’s just say, she’s succeeded: As of a few weeks ago, Touchland is now sold at Ulta®, and the beauty behemoth has already placed four reorders.

Here, Lisbona shares how she made that happen, as well as her own beauty philosophy and habits.