Air pollution has reached alarming levels in many locations worldwide. Tiny, floating particles enter our lungs and even our bloodstream, wreaking havoc on our health. Poor air quality is causing health crises, especially in parts of the world where environmental policies have not been updated to keep up with rapid development.
Over the past few years, a series of air pollution events have set new records in Asia. Thick blankets of smog forced evacuations and public health emergency protocols. Many suffered serious consequences due to poor air quality. These types of events are having a nefarious effect on human health and endangering lives in many parts of the world.
My concerns about climate change and the state of our planet prompted me to invest in a new company whose goal is to help a billion people breathe cleaner air.
Angad Daryani is an inventor and social entrepreneur who has invented the world’s most advanced outdoor air purification system.
His company, Praan, is bringing artificially intelligent, large-scale air purification to protect cities from the serious environmental threat caused by air pollution, allowing us to live cleaner, healthier lives.
An unsolved, catastrophic problem
Currently, the intake of polluted air is creating rising health concerns and destroying indoor and outdoor air quality. In regards to air pollution, the following alarming factors are rising to the surface, many of which are documented issues:
- 7 million premature deaths worldwide, annually
- Highly polluted air can reduce an individual’s lifespan by up to 10 years
- Worldwide, 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air
- Breathing air pollutants in Delhi is equivalent to smoking 50 to 60 cigarettes a day
- In India, deaths from air pollution will rise from 1.67 million in 2019 to 3.6 million annually by 2050
Sadly, existing solutions do not solve the problem. Masks, anti-smog guns, and single filter-based outdoor air purifiers have done little to improve the situation. Until major changes are implemented to curb the threat of air pollution, a solution is needed to help those who are suffering and losing their lives.
An inventor who dreams of ending the air pollution plague that affects modern cities
At only 22 years of age, Daryani has led a life of hard work, resourcefulness, and brilliance. At eight years old, he built his first robot and a solar-powered boat. Then, at the age of thirteen, he created his own version of the open-source RepRap 3D printer. At fifteen, he gave his first TEDx talk. At sixteen, Daryani gave another TEDx talk and built a hand gesture-controlled vehicle for himself, as well as collaborating with MIT to build an e-book reader for blind people, entitled “The Virtual Brailler.” He gave a third TEDx talk at age seventeen and by the time he was eighteen years old, Daryani was an accomplished social entrepreneur who went on to study Electrical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and graduated with Honors.
I am incredibly impressed with Daryani’s achievements at such a young age. But Daryani didn’t stop there. His passion and drive were unrelenting, resulting in the launch of multiple startups and social initiatives. His latest invention manifests itself in Praan. Having grown up in India and suffering from asthma, Daryani was inspired to resolve local air pollution issues. His zeal for clean tech is contagious, and his vision is to implement it on a scale until developing countries reach goals of cleaner energy.
Impressive Tech Makes Clean Air Achievable
In Sanskrit, Praan means “the stream of life” and in Hindi, “the breath.” These words inspired the team to design the product to be an embodiment of the harmony between humans and nature, and hopefully the name will remind people of the importance of this product in providing health and clean air to breathe.
To tackle this massive global problem, Daryani and his team of world-class experts have done so much research and have thought of everything. It turns out that, to solve this problem, there are lots of environmental and logistical issues that need to be resolved as well. There are both software and hardware challenges, but they have worked tirelessly to master them all.
While many countries look to the government to solve this problem, Praan treats government contracts as a back-up to solve this problem. They set about to solve the technical and logistical challenges in such a way that communities or companies could make immediate impact without being entirely dependent on government policies to fund and support these efforts. They believe the issue is solveable through implementation of these technologies through the private sector.
One of the things I love about Praan is that the UX is beautiful, very minimalist—Tesla-esque. The tech is focused on first principles physics, and AI and deep learning and has been applied in ways that are really interesting.
The Praan outdoor air purification system is protected by a series of patents to secure its market position and aims to make clean air accessible at the modest cost of $0.006 per person, per day. The system requires no infrastructure, and purification towers can be mounted on buildings, streetlights, bridges, etc.
The units automatically close tightly when the weather forecast calls for precipitation and open up again once the weather conditions improve. The system shuts on or off automatically in relation to real-time air quality and environmental monitoring in order to reduce power consumption when the analyzed air quality is at acceptable levels.
The patented filter-less purifying system is designed to save money on filter replacements while effectively removing carcinogenic carbon particles from the air. Additionally, there is no time-consuming work associated with the constant replacement of filters, thus eliminating labor costs.
Praan also features layers of artificial intelligence such as the application of deep learning algorithms and Bioacoustic data, which can monitor local wildlife with advanced digital signal processing. Furthermore, data is accumulated on multiple environmental factors related to the air, which is then livestreamed to various organizations. Lastly, Praan has an amazing integrated theft protection system which prevents it from being stolen if scaled nationally and is, of course, also patented.
Resourcefulness Beyond All Others
Daryani reminds me of myself when I was his age. This visionary man has dedicated himself to solving this very real problem that other people think is crazy to try and solve. As I look to where can my money do the most good, this is the kind of company that will, as Steve Jobs once said, “make a dent in the universe.”
Rarely do I invest in pre-seed rounds, as they tend to be much more risky, but when you talk with this highly organized, process-focused thinker, it becomes very evident what a unique entrepreneur he is. Despite the fact that air pollution is this massive global problem, having Daryani tackle this is like bringing a lion to a dogfight. He is so resourceful. At one point, he had over 150 interns helping to build product and I thought, “If he had some more seed money, he could do so much more!” I love how scrappy he is. Many people want to try to solve a problem from their luxury condo, but Daryani is in it. He’s in the trenches, working through each issue as it comes up.
Assessing the market forecast
According to Grand View Research, the global air purifier market size was valued at $10.67 Billion in 2020, with a revenue forecast of $24.62 Billion by 2027. The market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.6% from 2020 to 2027. The COVID-19 pandemic will be a key contributor to an additional, significant shift to this expected growth; however, in light of major changes in regards to transportation, there remains uncertainty as to how the shutdown will affect air purification in the long-term. Nonetheless, rising air pollution levels, environmental protection laws, and an increase in health awareness remain key influencers and continue to be the driving forces behind market growth.
Corporations care a great deal about their corporate campuses being carbon-neutral; they want to ensure a safe environment for their employees but they don’t know how. Praan solves these issues, and Daryani and his team are continually unlocking new ways to expand further and further – by capturing particulates, VOCs, and now even CO2. Educational campuses, hospitals, parks and apartment buildings all need to address this very real but now very solvable problem.
For these reasons, I believe that Praan and Angad Daryani’s brilliant, innovative spirit is a solid investment in the kind of social entrepreneurship that the world desperately needs. In the coming years, all investors will be influenced by the global, political, and environmental scenarios that arise. As such, investing in “future-makers” to influence positive innovations is an absolute must. As we transition to a low-carbon economy, we must embrace change and foster new, problem-solving technologies that are designed to improve the state of the world.