[Startup Bharat] This Roorkee company is developing masks to keep people safe from air pollution
Jathin Jagannath, Vijay Singh, and Bharath Yadav, friends at IIT-Roorkee, zeroed in on the world’s mask problem much before it became a common, constant accessory amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trio found their calling while working on a nanofibre fabrication project for their thesis. After realising that most air filtration products were imported, the trio decided to find a nanofibre fabrication-based solution to help people stay safe from air pollution, which is a rising concern across India. Multiple research has pegged cities such as Delhi, Kanpur, Varanasi, and Gaya among the most polluted in the world.
This was the problem that Jathin, always “interested in science, research, and experimentation”, and his friends decided to solve.
In 2018, the trio launched. Incubated at IIT-Roorkee, the startup produces N99 masks using advanced nanofibre-based HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters to help people stay safe from air pollution.
“During our masters’ thesis, we were working on some interesting projects involving nanofibre fabrication and realised that our prototype was just six months away from a market-ready product. We always wanted to build something of our own but were yet to decide on the business idea. After testing our prototype and upgrading it, we jumped right in and launched Vyaan,” Jathin tells YourStory.
Building affordable air filtration products
Vyaan Purifiers began with one aim: to “bridge the gap between the rising problem of air pollution and lack of efficient, affordable air filtration products”.
The startup’s first commercial product is an N99 face mask that has been designed with an advanced nanofibre-based HEPA filter to trap any unwanted particulates, including dust, viruses, and other allergens. The reusable mask is made from durable ABS plastic and can be washed or sanitised for multiple uses. The users only need to replace its filter cartridge, which is priced at Rs 20.
“Our product has a nanofibre-based HEPA filter, which provides 99.7 percent efficiency. Apart from the technology, we have also focused on the design of our products. The mask has been uniquely designed to provide complete face seal and a fog-free vision experience,” Jathin says.
The mask has IS 9473:2002 D.R.D.O. and EN 1822-3 certifications.
He explains that the filter will be needed to be replaced as required. People living in highly polluted cities such as Delhi might need to change the filter more often than people from lesser polluted cities.
The startup has also completed the prototype of its first-of-its-kind ‘Smart Mask’, which is a microphone-based respiratory healthcare device.
According to the founders, this product will leverage machine learning to continuously monitor and analyse the breathing patterns of the user and detect anomalies like coughing and wheezing. This data can then be used to detect respiratory problems at an early stage.
During the second COVID-19 wave this year, Vyaan distributed 200 masks free of cost to the country’s frontline workers. Currently, it offers masks to frontline workers at a discounted price.
The startup claims to have recorded 46 percent increase in the sale of the respirator mask and 24 percent increase in the sale of the filters quarter-on-quarter amid the pandemic situation.
Vyaan’s products are available for purchase from the official website and other ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, and PaytmMall. The products also have offline distribution partners across Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bangalore.
Last January, the startup raised seed funding from TIDES, IIT-Roorkee, to support its manufacturing setup. Vyaan’s manufacturing setup is in Noida while its assembling facility is in Meerut.
Demand for medical equipment such as masks has further increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report by Reportlinker, the Indian mask market was valued at around $ 66 million in FY20 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 11 percent until FY25.
Jathin reveals that the startup has over 5,000 active users and is looking to acquire a total of 20,000 active users by the end of this year.
“Mask problem is a global problem and we are looking to expand into international markets. We are in talks with Dubai-based distributors who also have channels in African and European countries,” Jathin says.
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Edited by Teja Lele