I often find myself thinking about two sides of our product. First one are product features I think are working pretty well. On the other hand, are features that could have gone better or we had the time & resources to fix immediately. The latter thought is obviously not very mind pleasing. We may not always have all the desired features, but since we work in the health & wellness segment – there is absolutely no scope of product not being performing up to a certain expectation and we must over-perform every time.
Shortly after we officially incorporated Urban Air Labs in 2018, we launched our flagship product, Ubreathe. The technology was revolutionary, the vision was innovative, the market could not have been better as we headquarter in one of the most air polluted cities in the whole world. We had in place solid designs, goals, budgets, time lines, and what we thought were all the other necessities for proper execution. The soft launch of the Ubreathe was an immediate hit. Our work received many national and international accolades. Launched after a lengthy R&D process, the smart pot had a patented pending technology that could be extended to many future applications.
But soon once the customer started using Ubreathe we started to receive feedback on the actual user expectations from a green tech product. While the critical benefits such as improvement in the air quality and enhancing the green element were received well, misunderstandings arose over its impact in large open areas and visibility on impact via air quality sensors. We often found ourselves spending entire days just auditing these houses for air quality contaminations and possible sources for the same. The concept was a breakthrough, but the product required more smart features to communicate well with the users.
So the question in front of us was very simple -
How can we improve the product to maximise the impact?
Making a second-generation product that exceeds in performance, quality, design and experience is not just difficult, it's almost impossible -- unless you take the right measures to reinvent yourself and listen to your users in the process.
I have seen many tech giants and increasingly young start-ups pushing out their new hardware, changing the vision and propositions quickly to improve on the previous failings in their solutions, or to simply cash in new market opportunities.
Since the inception, Ubreathe has impacted more than 10,000 lives over the last couple of years. Our early adopters have been highly patient and helpful as we continuously look to improve upon our work. During the last two years that passed, the team has been focused on what product improvements to build next and when. We had neither the financial opportunity to push out new hardware right away nor the willingness to shift gear so quickly given the air pollution segment is still at a very early stage. All the stakeholders - inventors, users, investors, partners, government have only now started to build a clear perception of the problem and what needs to be done with it. So during this time, we were very happy collecting feedback and building our technical expertise.
But there is only so much expertise you can build without giving users what they really want. So, as of today, we finally are pre-launching Ubreathe X. Yay!
Now that we have our v2.0 product that is much improved and serves more purposes than the first, I feel we should share insights from our journey.
Always remember the problem you're trying to solve!
Ubreathe’s main objective for the first product was to create a healthy air quality environment inside urban homes and offices ; a simple mission with a huge impact, and a pressing issue for people living in Delhi, Gurgaon and other metro cities in India. The focus was to innovate upon nature based solutions and solve something we knew was a massive problem.
Once we had a clear understanding of the problem, we started working with our initial customer to test out the product and make the necessary changes. The feedback we have received through our early adopters has given us a clear vision of how well our concept is performing.
Soon we realised, an air purifier performs only when users and families also adopt certain habitual changes – such as closing the windows if the pollution levels are severe, not having harmful chemical based products inside the house, cautiously avoiding indoor clean air to be exchanged with outside polluted air and many more. Also, we still have large open rooms in India unlike urban confined rooms & spaces.
While we immediately included a user awareness program on indoor air quality into our scope, a major improvement in the efficiency of the product was also necessary to give our users the breather they would need while they understand the nitty-gritties of air quality.
Give users absolute control over product!
If you ask most people which one is their favourite product or service, you will be surprised to see that in most cases, it is not the one that provides maximum benefits but the ones that give them more control to operate and experiment with it on their own.
Think about how Amazon Alexa sells more than Saregama Caravan music speakers. It is for the same exact reason.
For us, investing in smart features like app based control, alerts on pollution, air quality of your locality and safe-guards measures required was not an immediate feasibility. But this was soon communicated to us that the feature creates a sense of adoption in our users since they would be able to experiment with it more.
So, two years or R&D on electronics and IOT features, we now have integrated these much needed smart features with Ubreathe X. Not only is Ub X a smart product, with the extensive engagement, we plan to create a community of plant lovers, air quality warriors, health & wellness enthusiasts to interact with each other and help us out in closing the awareness and perception gap for the issue.
While the R&D and innovation journey has been super fun, now the team is poised to work even harder to give users a highly engaging and superior product experience.
I am a firm believer in ‘under commit and over deliver’ and very excited to work with all stakeholders on our mission of creating a future where everyone has means to maintain healthy and pure environments.
We have gone live with Ubreathe X and currently rolled out Pre-order offers to early believers. First 500 users would be able to avail a discount of 50% and can book their Ub X at ₹ 999/- only!
Checkout the details here - https://www.ubreathe.in/
Cofounder and CEO
Urban Air Labs