Interview with Mr. Wiktor Warchałowski

Interview with Mr. Wiktor Warchałowski, Airly

Where the idea for Airly came from? What prompted you to deal with air matters?

Everything began at the end of 2015. Together with my university friends we were looking, often in a lecture hall at the occasion of quantum physics course, for an idea what to do in our lives. Even though we had many plans we knew one thing – we did not want to work in a corporation, in a place where one cannot have a real impact on the shape of the organisation. Staying at the university was also out of the question. We have tried various approaches and solutions. We were thinking about something that could solve a problem in a real way. One of the problems was that we didn’t really know what we breath. Me and one of Airly co-founders have decided to participate in the “Cracovia Marathon” running event. We had no information about the condition of air around us. The nearest measuring station was located several kilometres from our flats. So we have created a small device monitoring the condition of air.

Currently Airly is a system that enables the monitoring of air condition. Did it always look like this? Who is your target group and why do you direct your offer to it? What does your cooperation with local governments look like?

No, it didn’t. In the beginning it was only a measurement which is not helpful to the user at all. We were thinking about a device for consumers, a device that everyone can put on a window sill. But who would buy a piece of equipment showing that the situation is bad? Especially that, like any electronic device, this is not a cheap thing. The purchase of an air purifier is much more logical. So we had to change our approach to the product and discover it’s business model once again.

We have decided we would address our offer to cities and local governments, those with air issues in particular. Such a place needs indices which will show the data, and then it will be able to present them, by means of an application, to the residents. So let’s not consider Airly a device or a sensor – it is simply a comprehensive system. It’s a network monitoring the condition of air in real time, an entire platform linked with a www and mobile application. Local government bodies are happy to respond to the needs of their citizens. The lack of information on the air quality was a main problem of one of our first customers – a gmina (administrative district) near Kraków, Zielonki. Being aware that their air quality is not one of the best, they had no possibilities of monitoring it. Our product has not been ready at that time, but we were able to present them our solution – a vision dawning in the heads of four students. The gmina trusted us and we made 42 devices for them, creating a very thick network. Thanks to this, they were able to commence counter-measures: they knew in which places the residents emit more pollution.

At the moment, we have nearly 1,500 devices in over 120 gminas and municipalities in Poland. Polish gminas and cities are happy to encourage innovation and comprehensive technological solutions which can contribute to the improvement of life quality of us all.

You have grown from a students’ start-up to a company recognised on the market. What are your development goals for the nearest months and years? Do you plan to sell your products abroad in the future?

The forecasts for the sale of our product are very optimistic for us. In the coming years, we plan to create a dense network of our sensors throughout Poland, as well as to launch our product on foreign markets. We are currently talking with potential foreign partners. Our sensors will appear outside of Poland in the nearest months.

Is Kraków a good place for start-ups?

By all means! Kraków is a great eco-system which encourages the creation of start-ups. It has a skilled personnel (students of the universities in Kraków) and has established favourable investment conditions (dynamically operating economic zones). It also provides an access to people with experience who succeeded in business, or to mentors and investment funds, what is very important as well.

What is a start-up to you? Is innovation a key to success in your opinion?

The most widespread definition has been created by Steve Blank – the author of “The Startup Owner’s Manual”. According to Blank, start-up is a provisional organisation, looking for a profitable, scalable and repeatable business model. To me, start-up means a technological venture, characterised by exponential growth and a scalable solution, very often based on an unconventional business model.

What is the competition among the smog applications in Poland?

There are several projects creating their own sensors on the market that are dedicated to interiors or to mobile devices (e.g. Origin or Xiaomi). I know that some of them have even set up www platforms, where people can trace measurements of various devices. None of them, however, care about the place of installation and accuracy of the information. Regarding the mobile apps – there are many available apps on the market using data from the State Environmental Monitoring system. Our advantage lies in the completion of this network with own infrastructure, which increases the accuracy of displayed data.

To learn more about Airly please visit https://airly.eu/pl

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *