Startup Street: Little-Known Startup’s Pocket-Sized Devices To Track Air Pollution
Ambee at the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2017. (Source: NUMA Bengaluru/ Twitter)

Startup Street: Little-Known Startup’s Pocket-Sized Devices To Track Air Pollution

As Delhi struggles to breathe, a startup has come up with a portable pocket device that tells you exactly how toxic the air you are breathing is. Self-rental car startup Zoomcar has gone electric, thanks to its tie-up with the Mahindra group to include 20 electric vehicles in its fleet in Mysuru. Nomura has selected eight startups from India’s fintech ecosystem with an aim to bring more solutions to the industry.

Here's a round up of what happened on Startup Street:

Beating Bad Air With Ambee

As the deadly smog descends on India’s capital again, a startup is making devices that track air quality in real time and help users know when it is safe to step out.

Ambee founders making a pitch back in July. (Source: NUMA Bengaluru/ Twitter)
Ambee founders making a pitch back in July. (Source: NUMA Bengaluru/ Twitter)

Ambee, a startup which was showcased at the Bengaluru Tech Summit, has already hit around 100 pre-orders for their air monitor, according to Akshay Joshi, one of the three co-founders. “Ambee focuses on collecting and utilising vast tracts of pollution data to predict hyper-local pollution, thus enabling users to take action,” he told BloombergQuint in an email.

Using this data, users will be able to tailor their schedules and routes to avoid pollution.
Akshay Joshi, Co-founder, Ambee

The original prototype for the sensor was built by co-founder Madhusudhan Anand who wanted to understand why his infant was constantly having respiratory issues. Anand, a former tech executive at Dell and HP, then analysed the data and consulted a paediatrician who confirmed that the huge spike in air pollution was the underlying cause of his child’s breathing problems.

Jaideep Singh Baccher, the third co-founder and a lawyer stepped in as a common link between Joshi and Anand, and initiated discussions about Ambee. “The decision to collaborate and take Ambee to the next level was instant, especially given the varying skill sets of the three co-founders,” Joshi said.

Startup Street: Little-Known Startup’s Pocket-Sized Devices To Track Air Pollution

The startup surveyed visitors outside various hospitals and found that 80 percent of the respondents would like to buy such a device immediately.

Ambee has raised a small initial round of capital from “well-wishers and mentors,” most of who are corporate executives or partner level high net worth individuals, Joshi said. They will be looking to raise a round of capital in 2018, once device sales reach certain benchmarks.

We received commitment for more funding than we had set out to raise and have consciously taken less than was on offer simply because we believe we need to handle our growth in a structured manner.
Akshay Joshi, Co-founder, Ambee

Joshi said that the startup is current focused on “building a deployable data product” before it scales up device sales. He added that Ambee is also building large-scale pollution heat-maps using the air quality data collected by the company.

Zoomcar Goes Electric In Mysuru

Self-drive car rental startup Zoomcar has tied up with the Mahindra Group to include 20 electric vehicles in its fleet in Mysuru, Karnataka.

The partnership between Mahindra Electric and Zoomcar will see 20 e20Plus vehicles and two fast charging units deployed on the startup’s platform, according to a joint media statement. “These vehicles are financed as a part of larger financing arrangement between Zoomcar and Mahindra Finance, which will see Zoomcar obtain customised EV financing,” the statement said.

(Source: Mahindra Electric/ Twitter)
(Source: Mahindra Electric/ Twitter)

The initiative is aimed at promoting the development of a sustainable mobility ecosystem, leveraging the Karnataka government’s electric vehicle policy which looks to push their use beyond metros.

Zoomcar first introduced EVs for commercial use in Karnataka back in 2013 and this announcement today represents a dramatic expansion of our EV vision for the state.
Greg Moran, Co-Founder and CEO, Zoomcar

Zoomcar and Mahindra Electric are now looking to extend this partnership to other cities, including Chandigarh, Delhi and Hyderabad, soon, the release said.

Nomura’s Picks From India’s Fintech Startups

Japanese banking giant Nomura, which operates as a brokerage and research firm in India has picked eight Indian startups for its fintech partnership programme which aims to develop new solutions for the capital markets and in investment banking.

Picked out of a total of 150 global applicants, these startups showed a range of banking solutions for client on-boarding, business intelligence and market insights, enhanced risk control and human resource management. This was achieved by leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, anomaly detection and chat-bots.

Here are the eight startups:

  • Datum Solutions
  • Recommender Labs
  • Senseforth
  • Simility
  • Surukam
  • Tookitaki
  • vPhrase

“Rapidly evolving technologies are transforming the way we operate, and this wave of technological disruption is poised to reshape the industry,” said Yo Akatsuka, senior managing director of innovations at Nomura.

Nomura held a demonstration day with the eight startups in Mumbai on November 17. The fintech partnership programme ‘Voyager’ was launched earlier this year.

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