Entrée Capital’s “Founder Spotlight” series is a collection of video and written blogs that aim to highlight some of the inspiring founders in our portfolio and to share some of the lessons that they’ve learned along the way.
In this Founder Spotlight, we spoke to Ran Korber, the Co-Founder and CEO of Breezometer.
In a sentence, what do you offer, to whom?
Our unique set of algorithms enable us to provide the most trusted and accurate environmental forecasts and health insights to leading companies such as Apple, Verizon, Dyson, Bosch, AstraZeneca, Carrier, and others.
What was your first product like, and how is it similar or different to your current product?
The story of Breezometer starts in 2012. At that time my wife and I were looking for a house to buy in the north of Israel. As an environmental engineer, I knew that air pollution is the leading environmental cause for premature death and a dominant cause for premature birth and other respiratory diseases in IL. So I was looking for air quality information that could tell me what the air pollution levels were at the specific address where we wanted to buy a house. We did find some information, but the data was scattered, incomprehensible, and not per address at all.
Therefore, I approached Emil, my best friend and a talented software engineer to assist in this challenge. Our first product was an Android app that provided a real-time air quality map in Israel alone (and only in Hebrew). That allowed me to choose the cleanest place to live in order to protect my asthmatic wife.
We soon realized that the challenge of Air Quality is a global one. According to the world health organization, air pollution is the single biggest environmental health risk that is linked to the deaths of more than 8M people every year.
This inspired us to set our mission: BreezoMeter’s mission is to improve the health and quality of life for billions of people worldwide exposed to environmental hazards (such as wildfires, air pollution, pollen, and more).
We subsequently expanded our Air Quality forecast to more countries. Over the years we also expanded our product to other breathing hazards that affect people’s health such as pollen and wildfires. To allow us to reach billions of people as fast as possible, we developed different APIs to allow leading brands to integrate our solution and inform their users on how to avoid these breathing hazards.
Moving forward to 2021, every day, more than 400 million people use our platform to make informed decisions on how to avoid environmental hazards and our solution is being used by leading brands such as Apple, AstraZeneca, Dyson, Bosch, and Loreal.
What has surprised you most while building your business?
The effect of air pollution on our overall health has been studied for a long time. By now, there is plenty of evidence-based research to suggest that unmanaged exposure could be damaging not only our lungs but basically every organ in our body.
The skin, the largest organ we have, is no exception. Expert dermatologists explain how air pollution exposure can penetrate and clog our pores, causing the skin to look “dull, uneven and discolored”. Further, prolonged exposure can lead to a breakdown of collagen, contributing to premature aging.
Among our customers are leading cosmetics and skincare brands such as Loreal and Dermalogica, who use our forecast to inform their users on which product they should use and other measures to protect their skin from the impact of air pollution and pollen. Seeing our product and services promoted by those leading cosmetic brands was a pleasant surprise.
What were the main stumbling blocks during the first 24 months of building your business and how did you overcome them?
I think we were a bit ahead of our time. Back in 2014, awareness about how climate change and air pollution impacted people’s health was not as high as it is now. While building our product, we also needed to increase awareness about air pollution and its impact on people’s health.
Luckily for us, we received tremendous support from the U.N and even the former U.S president Barack Obama.
It took some time to build this awareness, and in 2015 the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) chose BreezoMeter as a company that “can contribute to addressing today’s social and environmental challenges, through new groundbreaking ideas that can become a successful business.” We were then invited to present our work in front of the UN delegates in Geneva. A few weeks afterward, we were invited to Washington D.C., as one of the 72 chosen entrepreneurs worldwide who were invited to attend the Global Emerging Entrepreneurs Event at the White House hosted by former President Obama himself. Those events and awards helped to boost the awareness about air pollution and our product, allowing us to close our first major commercial deals.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“If you find unique ways to pull disciplines together, you open up experience for people…You solve problems that people didn’t even know they had and build products they couldn’t live without” — Creator Code pg. 137
This is why at BreezoMeter we have established a multidisciplinary team of experts in the fields of atmospheric science, environmental engineering, medical data scientists, software engineers, and more.
By combining these skills and technologies, we are truly able to progress in our mission to improve the health of billions worldwide.
Could you recommend 1-3 books that assisted you through your entrepreneurial endeavors?
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel: I probably read or listened to this book 5 times, and every time I learned something new. I see it as the bible for every entrepreneur, whether in early or late stage.
- First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman: In this longtime management bestseller, the authors present remarkable findings of their massive in-depth study of great managers. This book helped us outline our company culture and helped us choose great leaders and managers.
- High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard: In the end, the outcome of our success in our life is mostly the sum of our actions and habits we act upon every day. How we eat, sleep, and work and what we do. This book helped me a lot to optimize my habits and increase the team and mine productivity, especially during 2020, when we were forced to work remotely during the Covid 19 pandemic.
There are numerous reasons. I will highlight a few of them:
Entree is a great partner to assist not only during the good times, but also during the challenging times (such as a world economic downturn), and every startup will eventually have some challenges. At those critical times, they will be the first to support and invest more if needed.
They help the company while truly putting the founders first.
What is also unique about Entrée is their ability to help the company negotiate the best terms for investment while putting the company’s best interests first; this has also helped Entrée to quickly gain the respect of all our other investors.
In summary: Avi and the Entree team are truly exceptional and have helped us so much and on so many occasions (in the good times and the challenging times). They have been supportive in and out of the board room, understanding, professional, well connected, responsive, and super positive to every request we had.
I’d recommend Avi Eyal as an investor to any entrepreneur looking for a friendly, positive, well-connected, and supporting investor and mentor.