If you’ve heard about The Sqair, you should be suspicious. The Sqair puts out more clean air for less money AND it’s quieter AND more energy efficient?
Either I’m lying, or there’s some logical reason how this is possible. There are three.
1. It helps my life become a little dumber
I’ve got enough apps on my phone. Too many appliances in my home chirp and blink. I think I’m happier with one less app in my life.
The Sqair is brilliantly dumb. It’s stripped down to what makes a purifier a purifier. It’s an extremely well designed fan and filter. It gives quiet, clean air. No app, no flashing lights, just clean air.
2. My goal isn’t to get rich
I founded Smart Air as a social enterprise. When I was coughing through a Beijing airpocalypse, my world already had enough companies trying to rip people off for overpriced purifiers. I wanted to help people breathe clean air, not gouge moms who are scared for their kids’ health. Or it doesn’t have to be moms. It could just be data nerds like me who don’t want to breathe air that is slowly, imperceptibly waging war on our bodies, blood vessels, and brains.
That’s why Smart Air is a certified B Corp, which means we have goals other than making a profit. That also makes me a weird “businessman.” I humbly ask governments around the world: please put me out of business. I’d much rather bike around Beijing and Delhi under blue skies and no sweaty mask than sell purifiers. I’ll survive just fine as a psychologist.
That means I’m willing to take less of your money for clean air. In fact, I’ve taken zero dollars in profit since I started Smart Air six years ago.
That’s one big reason The Sqair costs less. Big companies would never accept our tiny margins.
3. I refuse to put gimmicky, ineffective filters in it
Purifier companies make money by confusing people. They market 7-stage filtration…
…with filters that have “Plasmacluster Technology”
These gimmicks help purifier companies—not air-breathers—because they allow purifier companies to charge more for their purifiers. Yet third-party data shows no correlation between price and effectiveness. Some of the most expensive purifiers are the worst performers.
The reason there’s no correlation is that purifiers are just fans and filters. You can try it out yourself!
The main active ingredient in purifiers is HEPA filters, and they were invented back in the 1940s.
They’re not patented. Anyone can make one. And they’re amazing at capturing particles—even tiny particles that some companies claim only their purifier can get (1,2,3)
I refuse to put useless, gimmicky filters in my purifier. That’s one reason why it performs so well but costs less.
Thomas is an Associate Professor of Behavior Science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the founder of Smart Air, a social enterprise to help people across the world breathe clean air without shelling out thousands of dollars for expensive purifiers.