Many great innovations came about because someone posed a difficult questions or made an unconventional request. And so is the story of Bonphul.
In the autumn of 2016, our co-founder, Prodyut Bora, was mulling over a plan to buy a new apartment when he asked his wife: “what is the most important thing you would like in our new home?” Pat came the reply: “the cleanest air.”
Prodyut Bora spent the next 3 months studying air pollution. His research revealed that while air pollution has multiple dimensions, the most important dimension is the reducing level of oxygen in our cities. With decreasing green cover and increasing automobile density—each litre of petrol or diesel burns close to 2000 litres of oxygen—the level of oxygen in outdoor airis gradually decreasing. Whereas the ideal level of oxygen in air is 21%, the level of oxygen in outdoor air in Indian cities like Delhi is 17-18%. In other words, oxygen availability is 30% less than the ideal level.
That winter, Prodyut Bora met our other co-founder Narendra Bisht, who agreed to assemble an oxygen machine for his new apartment. Both of them hit off well, one thing led to another, and in March 2017 Narendra Bisht invited Prodyut Bora to join him as his partner in his decade-old medical equipment business.
They also coined a new corporate name for the business: Bonphul. It is an east Indian (Assamese/Bengali) name that means ‘wild flower’.
Bonphul Air Products
While the older corporate entity (Bonphul Medsys) was retained, on 19 July 2017, Bonphul Air Products Pvt Ltd was incorporated as a new entity that would get into the business of indoor air quality (IAQ). About the same time, Anish Aneja, an industrial product designer, joined as the first new hire.
The trio—Prodyut Bora, Narendra Bisht and Anish Aneja—got to work and spent the next 5 months perfecting the prototype of the oxygen machine that Narendra Bisht had originally developed for Prodyut Bora. While doing so, they realised that they were creating an entirely new category in indoor air quality; only one other company in the world—Oxus, South Korea—had a similar product. Therefore they coined a new category name—Oxygen Optimizer—and a new product brand name—OxyMax—for their new development.
While all this was going on, in October 2017, Faridabad-based fabricator Satish Bhatia came on board as the seed investor.
The first few months of 2018 saw a trikle of sales as word-of-mouth about the product spread. As the trio began to look for an angel investor to scale up the company, an unexpected meeting led them to Atul Gupta and Saurabh Rastogi who, in May 2018, signed up to fund the next phase of growth.
In June 2018, Bonphul Air Products shifted its corporate office from Patparganj in east Delhi to Gurgaon. Armed with funds from its angel investors, team expansion began.
On 19 July 2019, everybody got together to celebrate the company’s first anniversary, and articulate a new vision: to be the ‘world’s most comprehensive indoor air quality company’ by December 2018.