Startup diaries -, Air Purifiers

Every year air pollution becomes a major issue across North India during winters. It was during the winter season of 2015, me and my friend (roommate during that time) decided to buy an air purifier. When we started exploring air purifiers, we soon realized that the options available are expensive.

When we read more about the air purifiers we came to know that the components required to build an air purifier is fairly simple and can be sourced from different manufactures with some hustle.

We couldn’t let go the fact that the high prices for the air purifiers were due to marketing and branding. This led us to the idea of creating an affordable air purifier for everyone. Thus we started researching more on this and tried building some prototypes over the next couple of months.

Here is how our initial prototypes looked like.

Kosher Prototype Kosher Prototype
Kosher Prototype

We named our enterprise “Saafair”. ‘Saaf’ in Hindi means clean, thus the word translates to “Clean air”.

Saafair logo
Saafair logo

Our idea was to sell low-cost air purifiers with a Hepa filter and a fresh air fan. We did some hustle and tied up with OEMs for Hepa filters and other related components. We also purchased an air pollution monitor. The first one we bought was found to be inaccurate and hence we had to import another one by Dylos, DC1100 Pro Air Quality Monitor via one of our relatives in Canada.

Air quality monitor
Air quality monitor in action

Finally we launched our first 2 models in September 2016

  1. Kosher - Our Flagship model. But still rudimentary in terms of current standards.
  2. Puro - a DIY model with just a table Fan and a HEPA
Kosher Model

I also quickly launched a magento website to sell online under the domain Along with these, we also started selling N95 Masks and Carbon Masks. We also tried selling indoor plants under the category clean air plants.

Initially we ran the sales with the help of word of mouth. Slowly we started gathering traction. During this time we luckily got some good media coverage. This was the tipping point for us as it immediately boosted our sales. The interesting thing was that the orders were from all over India. We also started getting inbound calls for investments.

Saafair Poster
A pamphlet we made for distribution

Things were getting serious now. We had to decide on the way forward for Saafair. We were competing against popular brands. These brands were selling the same item in a more aesthetically pleasing manner. We could have easily sold a couple of thousand orders. We had also found our Power Users in ‘people with breathing troubles’ caused by heavy air pollution. Since the HEPA filters had a shelf life of 3 to 4 months, we also had a subscription model in place for replacing the filters for the purifiers.

As we scaled, it became more clear to us that we need to redesign our flagship model to make more appealing. Our users should feel confident in displaying to others may be by placing it the front room. We had to move away from our existing sheet metal model to a Plastic based mold.

Since cost was our only advantage, these big brands could easily out compete us with heavy discounting any day. We were not experts in any of the areas including manufacturing, supply chain or even marketing. What we had was curiosity and a drive to build things. We could have continued the business for a couple of more years. But we realized that to scale this venture to the next level is a different ball game all together and we don’t have skill to do it at the time. Hence we decided to shut this down.

Media Coverage

Online media

Mail today
Article in Mail today
Metro Manorama
Article in Manorama