by Matthieu Lecuyer & Flavien Hello
When we met in Seoul in 2014, we were very far from thinking that we would be where we are today.
Directly concerned by the problem of air pollution, we were looking for a truly effective solution to protect against it.
After several years of development, R-PUR Nano® is a patented and award-winning solution.
This is a first step towards a more global vision: breathing clean air is a universal right.
Matthew and Flavian
From our meeting to our first prototype
Flavien : We found ourselves in Paris with Matthieu shortly after our meeting in Seoul in 2014. When I returned, I was regularly falling ill and my nose was permanently blocked. I didn't really understand what was going on, and it was by going to see a specialized doctor that I got my answer: air pollution.
Matthieu : Following this discovery, we learned a lot about the subject, especially about fine particles. Our first instinct was to want to protect ourselves against it, and we looked for an effective solution on the market.
Flavien : I remember that we went to all the stores to ask the salespeople for advice. Their answer surprised us at first: "Unfortunately, not all the masks we offer for sale are effective."
Matthieu : The idea then began to germinate in our minds, how to protect ourselves effectively against air pollution?
Flavien : For that, we had to understand everything about this pollution, and we surrounded ourselves with the best specialists in the field. We quickly realized that we shouldn't just focus on PM2.5 fine particles . The danger was even smaller.
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 you need to know is that nanoparticles pass through our pulmonary alveoli and remain in our blood all our lives, without the possibility of being evacuated. Two years of research and development were needed to develop our patented nanofiltration technology which filters both large and small particles as well as gases.
Flavien : For this first prototype, we also had 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 adapt to different morphologies. I think I pulled more than a hair on this part.
Matthew : Yes, I remember. So we had the mask and the filter, we lacked the mobile application that would allow us to follow the state of our filter. First, we did a multitude of tests by integrating electronic components into the mask.
Flavien : It's true, at the same time we were developing an ultra-precise algorithm supposed to recover the data from the mask. We realized that big data of real-time air pollution allowed to push the accuracy to a much higher level.
Matthieu : It's true, we finally had our first final prototype, so it was 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 European cities, and that it regularly found itself in the top 10 of the most polluted cities in the world. Being both French, we wanted to offer our solution directly to Ile-de-France residents.
Matthieu : I remember that at the time, everyone told us that we were crazy. As a reminder, we were in 2016, no one in France was wearing anti-pollution masks. If we managed to convince a demanding French clientele, then we were headed 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 that they supported us from the start.
Matthieu : For this, we turned to the future users of our masks. We launched a crowdfunding campaign and the success exceeded our expectations. To get started, we asked for €15,000 at the time, and it was €250,000 that was finally collected. R-PUR took on a new dimension.
Flavien : Again, we could have done things simply, 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 hell. This allowed us to validate four different colors which 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 realized how far we have come, and this feeling will remain indescribable.
And now ?
Flavien : We are already in September 2019. More than 10,000 masks have been distributed in 41 countries, and when you look back, I still have a hard time realizing. Since April 2018, we have remained focused on the experience of our users.
Matthieu : Thanks to their initial 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, which allowed us to focus this summer on a new version of the mobile application, whose development our community greatly participated in.
Matthieu : We are incredibly lucky to have developed an innovative solution that improves the daily lives of the people who wear it.<
Flavien : We often repeat it, but population health is our main inspiration. We are developing a child model and solutions to protect newborns, who are the most vulnerable to this invisible pollution.