Woosh founder leaves Google to build a solution to protect home air quality and transform HVAC into a smart air purifier; raises $1.3M in funding
Did you know that the air in your home can be five times worse than the air outside? Today, most homes use HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) filters to filter dust, pollen, pet dander, and other small particles out of the air. These particles are trapped in the filter to prevent them from being recirculated throughout your home.
Although the HVAC filters remove even the smallest microns or airborne particles, including tobacco and bacteria, However, the biggest problem with most HVAC filters is that you don’t know when they actually need to be changed. Too often and you’re throwing money away. Not often enough and you risk catastrophic damage to your system. That was what led Woosh founder to leave Google to build an air quality monitor and smart air filter that work together to automatically protect your entire home’s air.
It all started during a particularly nasty wildfire in 2019, Google product manager Winston Mok became dissatisfied with the air purifier products on the markets. Like any enterprising product manager, he decided to build his own and quickly learned that portable room air purifiers do not solve the problem of air quality for the entire home.
“Google was sending out emails saying they were sealing all the offices to protect the air quality, but when I tried to do the same for our home, all the products were either really expensive like Dysons or didn’t work very well,” Mok said.
“Working from home made me realize that consumers are blind to the air we are breathing and that the average air filter is rated at Merv 6, which does not capture smoke, bacteria, or virus carriers. In-room air filters are just bandaid solutions as the real problem to solve is the HVAC system for the entire home,” explained Mok.
This problem was amplified in 2020 with the bombardment of the COVID-19 virus, when Google mandated all its employees work from home, stressing the importance of air quality as homes became the new office for the world. Mok recognized three recurring problems 1. consumers have no visibility into the air quality of their homes 2. consumers do not know when their HVAC filter needs to be changed, and 3. That low-quality filters do not capture harmful bacteria or viruses.
Mok leveraged his Google experience and mechatronics engineering background to build prototypes using his home 3D printer, air filters, and computer sensors. He left his well-paying Google career to follow his passion and meet the challenge to solve this problem globally. With prototype in hand, Mok raised a $1.3M pre-seed round in a matter of weeks from executives from Google, Life360, TI Platform, and startup founders: Alex Haro, Chris Nguyen, and Matt Humphry.
Woosh’s first product will have an injection-molded frame that allows filters to be changed like a Swiffer Sweeper which reduces waste in landfills. The smart filter is connected to your home Wi-Fi and transmits data to a mobile app, allowing filters to be delivered to homes in a subscription format. Woosh will use MERV13-rated filters that capture >50% of viruses and bacteria (including COVID-19).
Mok has big plans for his product. “What Nest did for the home thermostat is what we want to do for HVAC air filters. I left my job in 2021 with the goal to ensure everyone has the best air quality in their homes while providing important data to homeowners,” he stated. “The goal is to ensure someone like my father, who’s 81 years old, and every other household member from infancy to their golden age is receiving hospital-grade air quality on autopilot.”