Technology for MSMEs: 27-year-old Ravi Kaushik did his Masters in Environmental Engineering in 2019 from IIT Bombay. Based in Delhi, Kaushik too, like millions of others, was breathing the thick brown smog under the city’s yellow sky. However, the opportunity in air pollution never struck him until the Covid spread in India in early 2020. Air purifier brands tried to seize the moment by launching products that could reportedly fight SARS-CoV-2 in the air. Covid-appropriate guidelines urged people to wash hands multiple times and disinfect surrounding surfaces and objects. Kaushik eventually built an air purifier AiRTh, which he claimed could kill the Covid virus, and got Reserve Bank of India, and ONGC among its first set of customers.
“We started working on the prototype in April and June onwards we got onto the first version of the market-ready product. We went through rigorous testing of the product at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in Delhi as during Covid, we couldn’t travel to Mumbai,” Kaushik told Financial Express Online as he explained the difference between AiRTH and other purifiers.
Other purifiers, which works on ‘capture mechanism’ captures bacteria, virus, fungus that becomes breeding ground for them and are again able to reinfect the air and infect people, he said. This is an established fact and research papers on the filters used in these purifiers are available noting that they allow the growth of micro-organisms on them. Chemical fumigation and masks don’t really work in saving people from Covid. So, there was no solution that could kill the virus in real-time, he explained.
AiRTH, Kaushik said, is the world’s first and only antimicrobial air purifier that gives real-time protection by deactivation of indoor ‘aerosolized viral load or fungal load’ in the air. “We work on the proprietary mechanism of DCD – deactivate-capture-deactivate for which IIT Bombay, who owns the technology, has already filed a patent. Particles are deactivated in the air itself by ionisation.” Aerosolized particles are small and light enough to be carried in the air. AiRTH is supported by Tata Trusts-backed venture building platform Social Alpha, Startup India, IIT Kanpur’s Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre, social impact advisory firm Alsisar Impact, and others in terms of grants and mentorship.
Kaushik was able to launch the first version of the final product in the market in April last year. He wrote to multiple organisations in the private and public sectors and received positive responses from some of them. The first customer was the StockHolding Corporation of India, the company responsible for the e-stamping system in India followed by RBI and then ONGC. “StockHolding as a customer was a big moment for us. The product was tested by engineers at RBI and ONGC as well along with multiple discussions before they were convinced that our purifiers were better than any other brand in the world,” said Kaushik.
However, AiRTH is a bit pricey at Rs 60,000 in comparison to existing brands. “While we are not competitive in pricing, we certainly are in terms of the value proposition we offer, being a made in India product. Our current version covers 600 sq. ft of the area but we are coming up with another version that covers 300 sq. ft which is good enough for household segments for around Rs 30,000. Other purifiers also cover 300-400 sq. ft of area,” said Kaushik. The company currently has around 20 customers including private organisations mostly apart from government entities. Kaushik is looking at over Rs 3 crore revenue in FY23 with at least over 150 customers.