Clean fresh air is a commodity these days. So many of us are living in busy cities and with the rise of air pollution, germs, increasing number of chemicals around us and second hand smoke we end up inhaling; it’s a real cause for concern.
Enter Sarah Tulin from Isreal. She has come up with a genius solution that is gaining interest around the world. Presenting ‘Oxie’ a smart, sleek wearable air purifier that will take your air from funky to fresh. An important aspect of Oxie’s design is that it doesn’t mask your face so you’re free to eat, drink and talk. The Oxie App tracks your pollution in real time to monitor your surrounds and give you interesting feedback such as how many cigarettes you have dodged whilst wearing the product.
Tell me about Oxie, how did you come up with the idea for it and what drove the need to create it?
Oxie was born when I was engulfed by bus fumes whilst walking to work. The few seconds of direct air pollution that I experienced really got me thinking about other people’s experiences in different countries where the air quality is constantly poor. I began to research different solutions and realised that nothing yet existed that was discreet, smart, and effective.
Dust masks can be found across Asia, but they are not popular in the Western world. The most common generic ones are not very effective at protecting against air pollution, are disposable, and among all other things, mask your face.
When designing Oxie, it was important for me to create a device that was fashionable and discreet, as well as smart and effective.
What did you study?
I originally began my studies in Biochemistry and Biophysics (at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) as my dream was to become a Neuroscientist.
After a summer spent in a neuroscience lab at Stanford, I quickly realised lab life was not for me and went on to study Business Management and Finance at IDC Herzliya in Israel.
‘I was a total trouble maker! From a young age, I had trouble taking orders and was always doing the opposite of what I was told.’
What were you like growing up as a kid?
I was a total trouble maker! From a young age, I had trouble taking orders and was always doing the opposite of what I was told. I was also a serious floater. I never had a specific group of friends, I would sit with anyone who was willing to talk to me.
What’s the one thing you do every day that you attribute your drive to?
I am a morning person and have a few ‘morning rituals’ that I believe give me the energy I need to take on the day. I live five minutes away from the beach in Tel Aviv, so every morning I try to get there just before sunrise and take in the fresh air and quiet. I also like to open up a word document before I do anything at the office and write for a minimum of 1000 words. I write about anything; new ideas, what’s on my mind, a dream I might have had etc. By the time I finish, I always feel like I have gotten everything out of my system and can focus on the day ahead.
What’s your favourite website or app?
I would say Instagram is my guilty pleasure. While I myself am not too active on it, I can look up new recipes and watch fitness and yoga videos for hours.
‘I never once felt like “I can’t do Oxie” because I am not an engineer.’
What weaknesses have never stopped you from succeeding?
I am not a technical person or an engineer yet I am building a hardware company.
I never once felt like “I can’t do Oxie” because I am not an engineer. I brought the team together to make it happen. Where ever I have a weakness, I try to find the right person to help fill that gap so I can overcome it.
Most people would get overwhelmed with the idea of manufacturing something like this, what was the process like?
In short, it was and still is overwhelming. Thankfully, I have an amazing team behind Oxie that supports this dramatic process.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I wake up around 5:30 everyday and get myself to the beach as fast as possible (before I think too much and fall back asleep).
6:30 – I usually go to the gym or I might do a set of exercises on the beach.
8:30 – I am on my way into the office.
8:30-13:00 – I am at the office.
13:00-15:00 – I am lucky to live walking distance from home, so most days I come home and cook lunch and have a little midday break from work. I never nap, but usually I will take this time to catch up with a friend or do errands etc.
15:00-20:00 (or later) – I am back to work again. A lot of our work requires correspondence in the US, so sometimes we have late night meetings.
21:00 – Ideally I try to unwind and will either do some yoga or read a book.
23:00 – is my typical bedtime.
‘I wish someone had warned me about the emotional rollercoaster ride involved in starting a company.’
What do you wish you knew before you started?
I wish someone had warned me about the emotional rollercoaster ride involved in starting a company. One day you might be on a high from success and the next day you might feel like you have lost everything. I have since learned that this is something that everyone experiences when starting a new business and it’s impossible to prepare for it.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” – Ben Horowitz. Many business books out there are based on success stories or how to reach success fast, while Horowitz takes a different approach and gives straight forward ‘what to expect’ honest advice for a wide variety of scenarios that all business managers face. He tells it straight and does not sugar coat anything.
How did you push through your hardest times?
Writing. Whenever I feel like everything is going wrong and there is no chance of success, I write. Writing allows me to get all the stress out and then calmly think of a solution.
What has been the most satisfying thing about doing this?
Creating a physical product.
Going from what sounds like a crazy idea, researching and working with engineers and professors to confirm the technological capability, and then actually creating a physical product is beyond exciting!
Is there anyone that you look up to?
Elon Musk. This man represents the epitome of going from a crazy idea to a final, physical product. He doesn’t let people’s opinions of what he is doing get in the way, he just does and creates things that are beyond most people’s imagination.
How would your best friends describe you?
Spontaneous – I literally have no fear when it comes to doing something outlandish, talking to a stranger, booking a last minute trip etc.
Blunt – I am not the friend that emotionally hugs you with words. I tell it like it is, even if you might hate a bit afterwards.
And lastly, unconventional.
Which key business skill do you wish you had before you started out?
Public speaking. Thankfully after two years and many presentations, I am now confident in front of a crowd, but in the beginning I could not even read one sentence off of a piece of paper in front of ten people, even if I had previously met them! I had serious stage fright. Public speaking is an invaluable skill that I think is often overlooked in importance.
‘If you believe in yourself, do not listen to what other people have to say about it, just do it.’
What would you tell someone who has a great idea but hasn’t done anything to make it happen?
What are you waiting for? Do it! If you believe in yourself, do not listen to what other people have to say about it, just do it. Countless times throughout my career I have been told that I was attempting the impossible and had no chance at success. It was my self-confidence that has saved me time and time again from becoming unmotivated and letting the opinions of others get to me. Go for it! No matter what people tell you, if you have confidence in yourself and your idea, then you can do it.
For more information you can head to the Oxie website at http://www.oxie.co/