[Startup Bharat] This entrepreneur from Halol, Gujarat, has developed an innovative face mask to fight COVID-19
Early this year, Hetika Shah started working on her new venture - Sanctuary Innovative Safety Equipment. But after the government announced the nationwide lockdown in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus, she faced many challenges in procuring materials for her startup.
However, despite these challenges, Hetika managed to launch Sanctuary Innovative Safety Equipment early April with support from SSIP, Government of Gujarat; and Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII).
Hetika Shah with her product
The Halol, Gujarat-based startup manufactures nanofiber-based masks called 4S SHIELD, and covers the four sensory organs of the body – eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.
Hetika says, she launched the product immediately after seeing the increasing number of COVID-19 cases all around. The 4S SHIELD face mask is mostly meant for the frontline workers treating COVID-19 patients as they are most vulnerable and at risk of contracting the virus. The startup is currently registered with CrAdLE- EDII.
“Today, masks available in the market only cover nose and mouth. But as per research, the virus can enter the human body through eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. So, we developed a product to protect all these entry points and launched 4S SHIELD within eight days after the lockdown,” says Hetika.
She says it is called ‘4S SHIELD’ as it covers the four sensory organs of the body.
Hetika comes from Halol, a small town in Panchmahal, Gujarat. She was exposed to the family business of industrial machinery right from her childhood, which inspired her to do mechanical engineering. She also gained a lot of experience with internships.
She was always interested in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, and worked on Industrial Chiller System venture known as Thermcool Industries.
By the time the coronavirus pandemic started affecting people in the country, Hetika, who was in her first year at EDII during the time, had started working on her startup. She started applying the industrial safety equipment idea to pharmaceutical personal hygienic product, which can cover all four sensory organs, and launched her startup.
Having a deep knowledge about the technology and development of safety equipment, she says, it was possible for her to launch the product within eight days.
“It was a difficult task as the whole country was under lockdown by March last week, and I managed to complete the product by the first week of April,” says Hetika.
Sanctuary Innovative Safety Equipment claims to be making the first-of-its kind mask in India. The product is made up of nanofibers with PFE of 99.35 percent and BFE of 99.9 percent. It claims to provide highest efficiency, i.e. 96 percent, and protection to all sensory organs.
According to the startup, its product is priced low compared to competitors such as MyssTre, 3M, and Honeywell, and combines N95 mask and goggles, which will protect people from contracting the virus.
“A person wears a mask to protect them from virus, bacteria, etc. Our product gives assurance of covering all entry points of human body with better filtering capacity than N95,” says Hetika.
The startup manufactures three products - Dr 4S SHIELD N99, which costs Rs 250; Dr 2S SHIELD N99, which costs Rs 150; and professional protective face mask, which is priced at Rs 5. The startup is currently selling these products through dealers and online platforms like GeM portal and Amazon.
Hetika says, they have sold over 3,000 masks till now.
The startup has also received Rs 1 lakh from Student Startup and Innovation Policy (SSIP), Government of Gujarat. EDII has also helped in raising funds.
According to a report by Grand View Research, the global disposable face mask market size was valued at $74.90 billion in 2020, and is likely to see CAGR of 53 percent in the coming years.
Although Hetika refused to disclose the revenue details, she says her company is nearing to break even soon.
The startup now plans to manufacture more safety products with innovative designs such as different types of shields, PPE kits, hand gloves, etc., which can be utilised in pharma as well as manufacturing industries.
Hetika says, “In future, we will manufacture safety products like hand gloves, which will be heat and cut resistant; safety shoes, which will have resistance to acid and oil; and other safety products at affordable range.”