There’s something in the air! – Startup air-Q develops air analyser for SME and private households
Who hasn’t experienced it yet? Whether at university, in the office or in the children’s room at home – in unventilated rooms fatigue and bad moods can quickly occur. But the lack of oxygen is not always the only problem. Fine dust, pollutants and mould can become a real risk to our health. The Leipzig-based startup air-Q now wants to bring a breath of fresh air onto the market with a new type of air analyzer that measures various values and gives tips on how to behave via an app. Managing Director Mario Körösi (right in picture) presented the project to us.
Mario, the idea for air-Q came from your co-founder Dr. Daniel Lehmann. How did he convince you that a successful business model could emerge?
Daniel has 10 years of experience in sensor technology. One day he came with a box to lunch in the refectory of the University of Chemnitz, where there was a plug-in mainboard with a tangle of cables and electronics. For this he had programmed a small software which he showed me on my mobile phone. “Look, I can measure the air live here now.” I immediately tried it out, blew it in and found the idea ingenious. Actually, he had developed the then still nameless device only for himself privately. But then we did some market research and decided relatively quickly to turn it into a business together.
What hurdles did you have to overcome afterwards?
The first challenge was to minimize the thing and make it manageable for the normal user. At the same time, it was about making the device and the software usable by people who are not as technically experienced as Daniel. Within the last two years we have succeeded. We have developed a corresponding mobile and web app for this purpose.
Yes, our goal is to initially sell 500 devices and earn a six-figure sum this way. At the same time, we want to prove ourselves and our investors: The idea finds buyers! The crowdfunding campaign can be found at www.air-q.com/kickstarter.
Who is your target group?
Our target group are people for whom a healthy lifestyle is important. Air is the most important “food”. Customers who have a fireplace or gas heating at home, for example, also benefit. Here, the device serves as an alarm if, for example, the carbon monoxide value increases dangerously. In addition, we have found in discussions at trade fairs that our product is also interesting for companies.
In this context you have created a special performance index. What does that mean?
Yes, bad air not only damages our health, it also reduces employee performance. There are now studies that show that if you have a certain amount of carbon dioxide in the air, you are 30 to 40 percent less productive. Here, too, the device alerts if the values move in a negative direction. But we can also check other interesting aspects using the measured carbon dioxide content – e.g. whether a person is in the room or a window is open. Security issues also come into play here. In a kindergarten, a water damage was also discovered by our device – the humidity there had increased measurably within a few days.
That sounds exciting in any case. But isn’t there also the danger of going crazy? You can’t just move into the forest if the values are bad.
I agree with you completely. The air-Q is a device that can make people hostage to technology in a certain way. But everyone has to decide for himself. There are a lot of people who use fitness trackers, for example, because they enjoy data about their body and environment. With the air-Q you can find out that you have miserable air and seemingly can’t do anything about it because your apartment is on a big street. Then you can consider whether you accept this or tackle the problem fundamentally by moving away or getting politically involved. In any case, it becomes clear when it is better not to open the window. By the way, you can be notified of this via the current language assistants such as Google or Alexa. In any case, I don’t think that ignorance is a solution.
We mainly work with small and medium-sized industrial companies. The first feedback is often: “That’s cool – we need that too”. Nevertheless, we still have to fight, because the orders that are finally triggered are often smaller than announced in the first euphoria. Our experience is: The greater
How do potential corporate customers react to your device?
We mainly work with small and medium-sized industrial companies. The first feedback is often: “That’s cool – that’s what we need! Nevertheless, we still have to fight, because the orders that are finally triggered are often smaller than announced in the first euphoria. Our experience is that the larger companies are, the slower and more risk-averse they are. I understand that in a way. For example, we are a company that you don’t know yet whether it will still exist in a year’s time. Of course, you are afraid of triggering larger orders. But that is unjustified. Our device works self-sufficiently, even if it should no longer exist, since no online service is mandatory for operations. In addition, we have been able to win an investor in the meantime. So we will still have a long time to go.
Do you also cooperate with other startups?
Yes, for example with 3dvisionlabs GmbH from Chemnitz. – And that’s much easier! The company specializes in camera systems that analyze what people do in space. Together we are currently developing a security and safety sensor. We combine optical data with information about the air in the room. We talk to this team at eye level. We have the same problems, but together we also have the great urge to work efficiently and achieve results quickly. In addition, we have generated a common conveyor bowl from the Sächsische Aufbaubank.
All pictures (c) air-Q
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