How this startup from Hyderabad will change the way you breathe: the OnMask story
Satya Krishna Ganni is the Founder of OnMask. With a dual MS from University of Illinois in Mechanical and Computer Science, he returned to India to a disturbing level of pollution on Indian roads. He thought hard about finding a solution and as a result OnMask was born.
Satya, who is also the founder of MartMobi, got a few friends on board, including Dr. Arun Kumar Itta, the Co-founder and CTO. At present, a post doctoral candidate at Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, Arun’s passion for research in chemical engineering, air pollution control and especially in membrane technology and its applications added great insights for giving shape to Satya’s ideas.
The company, based in Hyderabad, was incorporated in September 2012 with seed funding from one of the founders.
Shephali Shrimali joined later in Sept 2013 as a CEO and is now a part owner of the company. With degrees from IIT, Delhi and IESE Business School in Spain, Shephali was looking to do something of her own when she was approached by Satya.
At OnMask the focus is upon providing better protection against air-pollutants. The deteriorating quality of air is a major cause for concern. To ensure that we breathe better quality of air OnMask has introduced anti-pollution masks. These are washable and reuseable.
These are not your simple masks but have been developed after some meticulous research. The product saw a pilot run where customer feedback allowed for change and improvement.
OnMask is right now in the B2C space and is selling via online e-commerce and even offline through stalls and campaigns.
Shephali says, “We have not done any paid online marketing so far. Offline, we are concentrating in Hyderabad for now. We have started doing some campaigns to spread awareness and provide options from where people can buy the product. We will then duplicate the model in different cities. The metrics that we are tracking include, how many know about the product, how many are interested in it, how many actually buy it and the repeat sales.”
The focus now is on big cities with very high pollution levels. Next, they plan to move to Tier 2 cities with high pollution.
Shephali adds, “In the future, we plan to come up with various effective products that ensure high quality air, as well as products to cater to the needs of various industries where workers are exposed to harmful pollutants daily and as a result suffer from various occupational diseases.”
As a company providing better breathing solutions through its anti-pollution mask, they face continuous challenges. Shephali says,“There are mental blocks in endorsing this product from the consumer’s side because people are not aware and are only concerned about what they see. For example, they just see the dust on their face at the end of a long commute and they think just covering their nose with a kerchief will protect them against it. Or they think wearing a helmet will protect them against pollution.”
One of the most exciting learnings of OnMask was the recently held Asthma medicine event at Nampally Grounds in Hyderabad on June 8-9, 2014, where OnMask had put up stalls. “People from remote places came to us and talked about their problems caused by dust, smoke, household smoke and other allergens that worsen their asthma. We sold our masks there and hope to help a lot of other people with such issues in the future,”says Shephali.
In the coming months, Shephali says, “We will be coming up with two more products which cater to certain specific requirements that our customers are looking for. We also plan to expand our offline capacities to other cities. Bangalore will be next.”
To know more about OnMask click here.