Founder’s Letter 2023, Reflecting On Smart Air’s 10-Year Journey

Dear Smart Air breathers,

Ten years. Wow! Who would have thought a DIY project would become a global social enterprise? I sure didn’t. And it wasn’t my intention either. I just wanted to solve my own health problems. But when those first 60 air breathers signed up to my DIY workshop in Beijing, I realized other people needed this.

First workshop

Photo: Thomas leading the first Smart Air workshop ever, Beijing, August, 2013.

Most startups fail. Smart Air didn’t. Why? I think there are two reasons:

  1. First is our principles, our values, our methods, our process. Smart Air uses science and open data to teach people how purifiers work and how to protect themselves.

If you think about it carefully, what we do is different from your typical air purifier company. We teach people to protect themselves. We don’t sell air purifiers. Our goal from day one has been helping air breathers like yourself stay safe.

Sticking true to this principle is how Smart Air has succeeded. We didn’t grow the fastest, but by focusing solely on helping people and doing the right thing we’ve got bigger and stronger.

  • Second is you! Smart Air’s users and supporters. We wouldn’t be here without you. By breathing Smart Air, you embody those values, that process.

I see those values in actions that you—”smart” air-breathers—take. Each individual has played a part. Every article you’ve read and shared, every purifier you’ve chosen or recommended to a friend supports Smart Air and helps us spread science and open data.

building DIY air purifiers

Photo: Gus and Anna working overtime to build DIY air purifiers during the Shanghai “airpocalypse.”

Here’s to the next 10 years of Smart Air! I don’t know how big, how many products, or how many people will be breathing Smart Air then. But I’m confident that, if we keep doing things the right way, we’ll continue to grow. And I know I’ll grow prouder by the day.

Thank you for making the ‘smart’ choice. Thank you for spreading our open science and data to make the world a little bit better of a place. That’s Smart Air.

Breathe safe!

Thomas Talhelm

Founder and Principal Clean Air Nerd

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Smart Air is a social enterprise and certified B-Corp that offers simple, no-nonsense air purifiers and provides free education to protect people from the harms of air pollution. We are proud to be the only certified B-Corp dedicated to fighting air pollution.

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