by Matthieu Lecuyer & Flavien Hello
When we met in Seoul in 2014, we were very far from thinking that we would be here today.
Directly concerned by the problem of air pollution, we were looking for a really effective solution to protect ourselves from it.
After several years of development, R-PUR Nano® is a patented and award-winning solution.
This is a first step in a more global vision: breathing clean air is a universal right.
Matthieu and Flavien
From our meeting to our first prototype
Flavien: We met in Paris with Matthieu shortly after our meeting in Seoul in 2014. When I came back, I was regularly sick and my nose was always stuffy. I wasn't sure what was going on, and I got my answer after seeing a specialist doctor : air pollution.
Matthieu: Based on this discovery, we have learned a lot about the subject, especially about fine particles. Wanting to protect ourselves from it was our first reflex.
Flavien: I remember that we went to all the stores to ask the sellers for advice. Their answers surprised us at first: "Unfortunately, not all the masks we offer for sale are effective. "
Matthieu: The idea then began to sprout in our minds. How to effectively protect ourselves against air pollution?
Flavien: In order to do this, we had to understand everything about this pollution so that we surrounded ourselves with the best specialists in the field. We quickly understood that we should not only focus on fine particles PM2.5. The danger was with even smaller particles.
Matthieu: The terms ultrafine particles and nanoparticles were then unknown to the general public. Even today, education is not yet advanced enough on this subject. What we need to know is that nanoparticles pass through our pulmonary alveoli and remain in our blood for the rest of our lives, without the possibility of being evacuated. Two years of research and development were required to develop our patented nanofiltration technology that filters both large and small particles and gases.
Flavien: For this first prototype, it was also necessary to think about the general ergonomics of the mask. Hundreds of hours of stitching and testing were required. The mask had to fit under a motorcycle helmet. The fabric had to be of exceptional quality, to be both water-repellent and adaptable to different morphologies. I think I pulled more than one hair out of my head on this part.
Matthieu: Yes, I remember. So we had the mask and the filter but we were missing the mobile application that would allow us to monitor the state of its filter. First, we performed multiple tests by integrating electronic components into the mask.
Flavien: That's right. In parallel, we were developing an ultra-precise algorithm to recover the data from the mask. We realized that the real-time Big Data of air pollution allowed us to achieve the accuracy of a much higher level.
Matthieu: It's true. We finally had our first final prototype. We were then in April 2016.
Who would wear an anti-pollution mask in France ?
Flavien: During our research, we were also surprised to learn that Paris was one of the most polluted cities in Europe, which regularly found itself in the top 10 most polluted cities in the world. Both being French, we wanted to offer our solution directly to the people of Paris Region.
Matthieu: I remember everyone told us that we were crazy at the time. As a reminder, we were in 2016, and no one in France wore anti-pollution masks. If we could convince a demanding French clientele, then we were going in the right direction. The challenge was to succeed in offering a product entirely made in France with local know-how.
Flavien: We went looking for the best possible partners, and we were lucky to have them support us from the beginning.
Matthieu: To do this, we have turned to the future users of our masks. We launched a crowfunding campaign and the success has exceeded our expectations. To get started, we were asking for 15,000€ at the time, and it was in fact 250,000€ that was actually raised. R-PUR took on a new dimension.
Flavien: Again, we could have done things simpler, but we let our first contributors create the product they wanted. This gave us 56 possible combinations for the design of our first mask. In terms of logistics, it was a hell of an experience. This allowed us to validate four different colors that became the first collection of the R-PUR Nano® mask.
Matthieu: When the first contributors received their masks, it was already April 2018. I think we have finally come a long way, and it is an indescribable feeling.
And now what ?
Flavien: It is already September 2019. More than 10,000 masks have been distributed in 41 countries, and when you look back, I still have trouble making it. Since April 2018, we have been focusing on the experience of our users.
Matthieu: Thanks to their first feedback, we were able to quickly improve the product, especially on the comfort of the filter and the textile part. The excellent feedback on the second generation filters pushes us to surpass ourselves on a daily basis.
Flavien: Exactly. It allows us to focus this summer on a new version of the mobile application, which our community has greatly contributed to its development.
Matthieu: We are incredibly fortunate to have developed an innovative solution that improves the daily lives of the people who wear it.
Flavien: We often repeat it, but the health of the population is our main inspiration. We are developing a child model and solutions to protect newborns, who are most vulnerable to this invisible pollution.