Molekule wants to clean up the world’s air, using one personal molecular air purifier at a time. That’s why it has raised $25 million in a funding round led by Foundry Group.
The San Francisco company has special personal air filters that it says can eliminate the full spectrum of indoor air pollutants, breaking them down on a molecular level. The product is one of a series of Internet-connected devices that detects the quality of the air we breathe, and it’s one more expression of the Internet of Things, or smart and connected everyday devices.
I first wrote about Molekule in 2016, when it had 10 employees and $3.75 million in funding. Now it has 80 employees and a successful line of filters in the market.
“The air pollution problems are getting worse, but the good ting is that we have launched and are addressing this problem,” said Dilip Goswami, CEO and cofounder of Molekule, in an interview with VentureBeat. “I grew up with asthma allergies. There are millions who have it. 25 million have asthma, and 80 million have allergies” in the U.S.
Current air purifying technologies like high efficiency particular air (HEPA) rely on filters that capture and collect pollutants, where they can accumulate, multiply, and eventually get released back into the air. Molekule says it can eliminate pollutants 1,000 times smaller than what current filters can catch. By fully destroying indoor air pollutants, Molekule doesn’t just offer noticeable relief to asthma and allergy sufferers — it provides a safe living environment for everyone, Goswami said.
The technology is called photo electrochemical oxidation, or PECO, a process developed by Yogi Goswami, Dilip’s father and a recognized expert in solar technology. PECO works when a nanoparticle-coated filter is activated by light, generating a chemical reaction on the surface of the filter that breaks down pollutants including allergens, bacteria, viruses, mold, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Molekule has patented the tech.
Molekule can clean and recirculate the air of a 600-square-foot room every 60 minutes. Molekule said the device can be connected to Wi-Fi. The companion iOS app allows you to control the device remotely and seamlessly manage filter replacements.
Molekule has been selling the devices for $800 since July 2017, and it has sold out seven times. Based on usage and the environment, the device automatically determines when filters need to be replaced. Filters will be automatically mailed to consumers on a subscription basis for $129 per year. The first year is free.
Besides foundry group, other investors in the latest round include Crosslink Capital, Uncork Capital, and Translink Capital. Molekule plans to use the financing to expand its product line, scale manufacturing and grow the team. Molekule aims to help millions of people around the world breathe clean air.
Air pollution is a pervasive problem that impacts everyone. Research has found that dirty air can degrade our brains, become a driver of dementia and exacerbate the effects of asthma and allergies. In particular, indoor air quality is an issue that has been largely overlooked, yet it impacts nearly every aspect of our well-being. According to the EPA, levels of indoor air pollutants can be two to five times higher than the outdoors due to things like dust, mold, chemicals and allergens building up indoors.
“Molekule has a massive opportunity to bring relief to millions of people suffering from respiratory issues like asthma and allergies as well as people who just want to live a healthier lifestyle,” said Chris Moody, partner at Foundry Group, in a statement. “I’ve experienced the benefits of Molekule’s innovative technology firsthand, and am thrilled to partner with its team to set a new standard and revolutionize an outdated industry.”
“This is the health epidemic that people haven’t realized yet,” Goswani said. “The air that goes into your body has a direct impact on your health. We have addressed water and the food we eat. But air also influences your ability to think clearly.”
Rivals include Sprimo, Netatmo, Coway, Dyson, and Matr.
Founded in 2014, Molekule stays rooted in science. The company conducts rigorous product testing and invests in ongoing research and development. Molekule has produced several white papers and performed extensive tests with accredited third-party laboratories.
“That’s what sets us apart,” Goswani said.
This includes recent room-size testing Molekule did with a nationally recognized testing laboratory, Intertek, to show how its device destroys carcinogens in the air like formaldehyde. Molekule also recently published an allergy beta study, which tracked nasal and eye symptoms in the Journal of Allergy and Rhinology.
Molekule said it has hit seven figures in revenue every month. The company has raised $38 million to date.
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