All for fresh air

STARTUP showcase

L to R : A Joshi , M Anand, J Singh

When entrepreneur Madhusudan Anand moved to a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bengaluru a few years ago, he had to deal with a major issue. His four-month-old son woke up at 5 in the morning, with severe breathing issues. 

On the suggestion of a doctor, Madhusudan started to check the air quality index in the region and initially did not find anything amiss. Soon, he discovered that the nearest air quality monitoring centre to his house was situated about 16 kilometres away.

To get a better sense of air quality in his immediate surroundings, he put together a rudimentary air quality sensor that could offer real-time data about the quality of air near his residence. To his surprise, he discovered that the levels of particulate matter (PM2.5) near his house were touching dangerous levels of 800 ug/m3. More investigation revealed that a factory operating in the vicinity was the reason for the spike in pollution levels. 

This was what resulted in the creation of Ambee, an environmental intelligence startup, founded by Madhusudan Anand, Akshay Joshi and Jaideep Singh in 2017.

The company has received a lot of interest from a clutch of investors including actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and her mother Vrinda KR, who invested Rs 50 lakh each in Ambee in July this year. The company has received funding from Venture Catalysts, and Sequoia Capital India Managing Director Rajan Anandan among others and was part of startup accelerator TechStars India cohort.

What do they do?

Akshay, one of the co-founders says, “We provide data about hyperlocal air quality which is accessible to developers, consumers, health researchers and media companies. We use proprietary data and analytics to help end-users make informed decisions or take preventive measures in a situation of severe environmental distress.”

The company started out with creating sensors that would offer users data on the air quality in their immediate surroundings. “We discovered that there was no data set available for people to understand the air quality in a person’s immediate surroundings. We decided to leverage technology tools and create solutions,” says Akshay. 

Ambee has installed more than 100 sensors across Bengaluru and has 500 sensors working across the country. The sensors measure multiple indices including air quality, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors.

In addition to proprietary sensor data, the firm uses multiple sources of satellite imagery, government pollution data from across the world, meteorological data, and open-source air pollution data set. The data is processed using Ambee’s proprietary intelligence methods. Ambee’s data can be integrated into healthcare devices, fitness apps, air purifiers, smart cities, office spaces and homes.

Akshay says, “We use this data to help companies make choices on a wide variety of issues, and work with many aerospace firms, logistics forms and wellness companies as well leveraging our data to help build solutions.” 

He adds, “The Ambee AQI monitor is a small part of our offering and has been developed keeping in mind parents trying to monitor their children’s environment. The monitor ties into our data ecosystem and gives one access to remote monitoring as well.”

In the coming few quarters, the company is looking at reaching a revenue of $10 million. 

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