Written by David Silverberg
A sensor the size of a cellphone can help people breathe easier, warn building managers of dangerous chemicals in the air and potentially save thousands of lives. That’s the vision in the whirring mind of Natalia Mykhaylova, the 30-year-old entrepreneur behind WeavAir, which launched in June 2018.
The company’s sensors attach to a building’s vents in order to monitor HVAC systems, flagging issues and applying algorithms to detect patterns that could help identify problems affecting the HVAC in any way.
Mykhaylova says in an interview that many people don’t realize that over a quarter of HVAC systems installed in sites ranging from homes to workplaces have undiagnosed issues. “Failing to monitor indoor air quality can have really disastrous consequences for your health,” she adds.
She notes her B2B firm sets itself apart from competitors by applying predictive algorithms to its air quality detection technology, and can notify users on what to do next, such as replacing filters or repairing an older system. Push notifications via an app can be sent to mobile devices, wherever the user may be.
Since building out the company as part of the 2017 cohort of Next 36 – an entrepreneurship initiative that works with 36 young Canadian innovators each year to help them build new ventures or scale existing ideas – WeavAir is already moving fast to attract interest in the HVAC industry and the IoT space. SAP partnered with WeavAir so the Toronto company can provide analytics through their platform. Pilot projects in Antwerp, Taiwan and China are underway, and WeavAir was selected for the Cleantech Open Northeast Class of 2018, “which will help build our presence in U.S.” Mykhaylova says.
She is also being recognized for her business acumen. Mykhaylova was named the 2018 Student Entrepreneur National Champion by Canada’s largest student leadership development organization, Enactus Canada, and program supporter, the John Dobson Foundation.
WeavAir’s business model is subscription-based, whereby users purchase the hardware and then pay a subscription fee for the analytics software. “Once we show users the benefits of what we provide, they realize there are not just ecological benefits but also direct cost savings to their business,” Mykhaylova says.
Her long-time plan includes licensing WeavAir’s technology to HVAC and filter manufacturers “because they still don’t always know how their units are operating in the field.”
Mykhaylova’s interest in this sector began when she lived in her home country of Ukraine. “The air quality there is so bad, with little regulation for companies to follow when it comes to air pollution, that I knew this issue affected people’s health, and not just in Ukraine,” she says.
In Kiev, she remembers, you step outside and you can feel the pollution hit your face right away.
2018 is poised to a busy year of growth and getting WeavAir into more hands, across the world. Mykhaylova plans on hiring more staff, such as engineers and sales reps. “I’m most excited by expanding globally,” she notes, “because the more data sets we have, the stronger our algorithms get.”
When asked about technology trailblazers she admires, Mykhaylova is quick to answer, “Elon Musk, for sure.” Why? “He’s amazing at taking wild ideas and interesting tech and making them available to people in short periods of time.”
Photo credit Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real