With a Rs 25 Cr turnover, this Delhi entrepreneur’s air purifier business helps people BreatheEasy
Barun Aggarwal, Co-founder & CEO, BreatheEasy
India is in the middle of an air pollution crisis, causing serious health concerns among its citizens. It contributes to the premature deaths of over one million Indians every year.
And, Delhi is in the eye of the storm, with hazardous levels of particulate matter in the city’s air.
When he returned to 2010 from the US, Barun Aggarwal was baffled and wanted to do his bit.
“After coming back to India, I went to Yamunotri to spend some quality time thinking about what I can do in India. The greenery and the mountains in Yamunotri called to me, and I observed the freshness in the air which, unfortunately, I found missing in the city,” he tells SMBStory.
Barun had moved back to Delhi with his family, which found it difficult to adapt to the city’s air quality. It was a wakeup call for Barun when he saw his three-year-old son wheezing while at Lodhi Gardens.
“I found the condition alarming. As we came from a place where the air quality level was better, we could immediately see the polluted air taking a toll on our health,” he adds.
Growing from its roots
In the 1990s, Barun’s father-in-law Kamal Meattle became allergic to Delhi’s air. His doctors told him his lung capacity had been reduced to 70 percent and if he didn’t change the status quo, the air would kill him.
At that time, instead of fleeing Delhi, Kamal sprung into action. Using natural plants and a high-quality mechanical air filtration system, he transformed his office building in Nehru Place into a haven from the city’s increasingly toxic air. The Government of India deemed the Paharpur Business Centre one of the healthiest buildings in Delhi. But the air quality outside kept getting worse.
Building on Kamal’s work, Barun set out to find the best portable air purifiers for India’s air pollution crisis. He and his team tested 28 different models across 15 stringent parameters for six weeks in his children’s bedrooms. The children stopped wheezing and BreatheEasy was born.
The company was founded with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 10 lakh in 2013 and is incubated under the Paharpur Business Centre, Nehru Place, Delhi.
Barun says the company is one of India’s first full-service Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) solution providers, helping families, schools, and businesses in India create a healthy indoor environment through its air purifiers.
“Our work is rooted in science. Our laboratory has the best equipment in the world, used to carefully test every product before it reaches our online store. We also provide monitoring services, using cutting-edge technology to track and evaluate indoor air quality on an ongoing basis, no matter how big the space is.”
BreatheEasy' s IQAir
BreatheEasy's solution is deployed in the homes of William Bissell, Chairman of FabIndia and KP Singh, CEO of DLF Limited, among others. It has also deployed its products in companies like Infosys, Wipro, and schools including British School, American Embassy School, and German School.
BreatheEasy has clients spread across India including Delhi/NCR, Jalandhar, Jaipur, Chennai, Hyderabad etc. The company has also undertaken various large projects in Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai, and clocked Rs 25 crore turnover in 2019.
Early struggles and business challenges
Talking about the initial phase of his entrepreneurial journey Barun says that for the first eight months the company didn’t generate any revenue.
“It was very difficult to make people understand the health benefits provided by air purifiers. It was a hard time and I used to visit each family carrying the air purifier and a monitor to check the air quality in their home.”
Though the early phase was a difficult one, Barun says after people spent a half hour in the room with the air purifier on, they would see the monitor reflect changes in the air quality level. This was how he was able to build trust among people.
Initially, Barun sourced products from Japan. However, in 2017, the company partnered with Swiss company IQAir. The starting range of the air purifiers is Rs 60,000 and goes up to Rs 1.5 lakh.
The way ahead
As the level of air pollution only seems to be getting worse in Indian cities, and people are looking for options that can help them breathe better, Barun says the future prospects of his company are bright.
“We are designing another product for winters when air quality level is way below the required limit,” he adds.
BreatheEasy has also collaborated with a shopping mall, which is under construction.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)