Founder Friday

Jaya Rao of Transformair

Welcome to Founder Friday, where we’ll learn a little about the people behind some of the companies doing their thing at Highway1.

Today’s founder is Jaya Rao of Transformair.

The air you breathe is full of invisible nonsense that can kill you: viruses, bacteria, mold, fumes, allergens, the works. Wouldn’t you like a filter that actually destroys these things instead of just tucking them away?

Jaya Rao would, which is why she built one and started a company, Transformair, with her brother Dilip.

Dirty air goes in one end of the Transformair filter and clean air comes out the other along with trace amounts of water and CO2, the only byproducts of the Transformair process.

My brother suffered from severe asthma and allergies from childhood and our development of this technology stems from trying to help him

“Both my brother and mother had started to develop our core technology and I got involved when I (a person who grew up without ever having any problems with allergies, but got two dogs after I got married) started experiencing headaches, fatigue, and general sickness at home myself. They gave me one of the very first prototypes to test, and a week later I felt significantly better.”

With her background in mechanical engineering and design from U of Florida and Stanford, Rao set about developing a consumer version, and Transformair was born.

“Dilip and I went to TechCrunch in August to demo our product and found out about a mixer being held at the PCH Innovation Hub,”

Rao recalls. “In a world where apps are the most common startups, it was refreshing to hear about a hardware hub. When we got to the mixer, we ran into a few people who were in the Highway1 program that knew some mutual friends. The more we heard about it, the more we felt that it would be a perfect place for us to take our product to the next level. I think our founding team has a great mix of expertise and knowledge on the electrical and mechanical side of the product; our biggest challenge has been design for manufacture, and understanding how to iterate on the product in a very cost-constrained environment.”

Though it’s only the first week of the program, Rao’s got a vision for what she wants to accomplish at Highway1: “I’m hoping to go from our functional prototypes to something we can manufacture at scale. We’d also like to develop an iconic air purifier. We hear from people all the time that they don’t really know what an air purifier looks like. We want to define the standard of what an air purifier is.”

And after they’ve graduated?

“Long term,” Rao says, “We’d like to see this technology as the standard for all air-handling systems, so that schools, hospitals, homes, and more can get the most out of their indoor environment. Today, our air-handling systems allow for pollutants from outside and inside to build and concentrate to unacceptable levels. I believe there’s a better way.”

“For the millions around the world that suffer from asthma and allergies, this means they can finally get back their quality of life with air that's truly clean. ”

Jaya Rao, Co-Founder - Transformair

She added: “It also means that we can provide a safety net not just against the spread of airborne infectious diseases like SARS, H1N1, and measles, but also the threat of bioterrorism. For the first time, there’ll be a technology available to consumers that can significantly improve not just standard comfort factors like temperature and humidity, but the actual quality of the air.”

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Highway1, a division of PCH, is the premier hardware startup accelerator, located in San Francisco. We look for great hardware startups, with an exciting business idea and a compelling prototype. We help you design products that deliver real value to customers, that are delightful to use and that can be manufactured at scale.
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