G_LDC_11_2014A_A002Meet Innovator of the Week

Jack O’Toole
Fresh Air

 

 

Tell us about you and your company.

FreshAir has developed novel sensors (Patent Pending) that detect nicotine and marijuana smoke. It is the only technology available that detects airborne concentrations of these chemicals.

FreshAir’s primary focus is a room monitoring device which communicates with the FreshAir platform. When smoking is detected the system will immediately notify clients that smoking is taking place in a prohibited area. When the event is over the customer will receive a time coded chart of the substance detected, proving unauthorized smoking has occurred. Immediate notification and scientific proof deter unauthorized smoking.

Our devices help protect people from unwanted exposure to second-hand smoke. Helping property management companies and hotels prevent unauthorized smoking makes a safer and healthier environment for residents and guests.

 

Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?

The Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) has been incredibly helpful to us. The programming and resources at the DEN are exceptional, it is an unparalleled resource for anyone in the area. The network has certainly been the most helpful. Countless very accomplished people have been very generous with their time and helped us overcome the many obstacles that everyone faces trying to build a business. The advice, guidance, and introductions that we have received have been invaluable.

 

Fresh Air

 

What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?

Developing and manufacturing a physical device is very hard. There are so many electronic devices in our lives that making one seems like it would be a pretty simple process; it isn’t. Each element of the device, no matter how small, requires design and specialized manufacturing. A lot of very experienced people went out of their way to help us with the hundreds of micro-developments that go into creating a well-designed device.

 

What’s the best advice you have received?

Someone once told me, ‘Nobody lays on their deathbed wishing that they hadn’t done so many interesting things.’ I try to keep that in mind when I make decisions. I think about how I will look back on these choices and try to make a positive difference.

 

What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?

New Hampshire is truly a wonderful place to live and work. It is a family oriented community with almost unlimited access to outdoor activities. On my morning runs I take a trail across the street from my front door which gets me to the Appalachian Trail in less than 5 minutes, yet I live only one mile from the Hanover green. My family and I love it here; the seasons allow for a wide variety of sports and activities. We also appreciate all the nearby opportunities- if it’s not in your town, the next town is only 5-10 minutes away. New Hampshire is filled with quintessential New England towns. From our town you can also reach some incredible cities in just a few hours: Portsmouth, Portland, Boston, Burlington, or even Quebec or Montreal.

New Hampshire also provides a good supply of highly skilled workers and a high quality of life to attract more. Once people are familiar with the lifestyle here they are very interested in coming to stay.

 

What does the future look like for your company?

This is an exciting time for FreshAir. We had our first significant press in November and we have had more than 650 unsolicited inquiries since then. There is very strong demand from property managers, public housing, and hotels. It is clear that many people don’t want to be exposed to second hand smoke, but some people still expose others to it by smoking in prohibited areas. Each year, more than 41,000 nonsmoking adults die from exposure to secondhand smoke.

We will install our first pilot program devices in July. I suspect that we will make some adjustments based on those pilot programs. We will start producing larger numbers in late August or early September.

Every day we come in excited about helping people. Soon our devices will be out there making lives better by protecting people from second-hand smoke.

 

Check out FreshAir on LinkedIn and Twitter

 

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