Startups

Molekule Raises $25M To Bring Air Purification Out Of The 1940s

When Yogi Goswami’s young son had to repeatedly be taken to the hospital due to his severe allergies and asthma, the renewable energy scientist set about applying his research to help address his son’s health issues.

Goswami had been working on solar water purification technology when it “clicked for him that a new approach was necessary to destroy the pollutants in the air that were making me sick,” Yogi’s Goswami’s son, Dilip Goswami, told Crunchbase News about his father. “He started looking into the issue as a scientist, and not just a parent. So he took that [solar water purification technology] and transferred it to air purification.”

Then in 2010, while working on his Ph.D. at Stanford University, Dilip joined his father in further developing the technology. By 2014, the pair, along with Dilip’s sister Jaya Rao, had formed San Francisco-based Molekule. The startup built its first prototype by 2015 and gave them out to people, including an investor from Uncork Capital whose wife had severe allergies.

Molekule

“It worked wonders for her,” Dilip, who serves as Molekule’s CEO, told Crunchbase News. “So that firm ended up leading our seed round in 2015.”

Now, the company has raised $25 million more in a Series B funding round led by Foundry Group that also included participation from existing investors Crosslink Capital, Uncork Capital, and TransLink Capital. To date, Molekule has raised $40 million, including seed and angel funding.

The company plans to use the latest capital infusion toward hiring and expanding its production facilities and manufacturing footprint, “and kick it into high-growth mode,” according to Dilip.

Molekule has grown from 11 people last July, when it first launched its product commercially, to 80 today. It currently has more than a dozen open positions. The startup says it can’t keep up with demand. Its 22×12 cylinder device, known by the company name Molekule, has sold out seven times, and the firm has seen “at least” seven-figure revenues monthly since it launched, Dilip told Crunchbase News.

Molekule’s technology, which it has dubbed Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO), “completely destroys pollutants on a molecular level,” according to Dilip, using nanotechnology and by “recreating nature’s purification process inside the device.”

“PECO is a fundamentally different approach to cleaning indoor air. Instead of catching some pollutants on a filter, PECO’s patented technology actually destroys them,” he told Crunchbase News. “This is a complete shift from the Industry-standard HEPA filters, which haven’t evolved since the 1940s and merely trap some, but not all, pollutants on a filter where they continue to accumulate, multiply, and get released back into the air. In fact, PECO destroys pollutants 1,000 times smaller than traditional HEPA filters[…] Our device can cycle all of the air in a 600 square foot area about twice an hour.”

Chris Moody, partner at Foundry Group, believes 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.”

“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,” he said in a written statement.

Molekule was named one of TIME Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017 and received an honorable mention in Fast Company’s 2018 Innovation By Design Awards.

“What sets us apart most of all is that we are a science company first and foremost,” Dilip said. “In addition to our team of dedicated scientists and our internal test lab, we’ve worked with some of the world’s top independent labs to test our device and technology to create the world’s first purifier that has the capability to destroy indoor air pollutants, efficiently and effectively.”

Looking ahead, the startup is considering commercial real estate, medical, and automotive applications. But for now, it’s focused on the consumer market.

“There’s certainly a lot of interest,” Dilip said.

This piece was updated so that the total funding amount also reflected seed and angel investments.