Sramana Mitra: What happened after Dell?
Peter Mann: When I was at Dell, I learned pretty quickly that the culture wasn’t what I was expecting. At the same time, the Internet bubble burst. Dell started going through round after round of layoffs. The morale was low. It was a difficult environment from a cultural perspective. I was confident that I wasn’t going to lose my job but at the same time, no one really knew what was going to happen.
I had a friend in Austin who had an e-commerce business. We were talking and we decided that we were going to create an e-commerce business together. I worked at Dell during the day. This was my night job. I’d put in a few hours after work. After six months, it got to a point where I was able to replace my Dell salary with this business. So, I moved full time into that business in 2003.
Sramana Mitra: What kind of e-commerce business were you involved in?
Peter Mann: We were selling higher-end appliances – things that require more of a consultative type of sale. That did well. In 2009, I sold my 50% stake in the business to my business partner to work full time on my own company that focuses on indoor air quality and clean air. That’s how I got into the manufacturing of higher range air purification products.
Sramana Mitra: You basically got out of your e-commerce company where you were an equal shareholder and then you started your own company after that? What was the value of your 50% share in the e-commerce company?
Peter Mann: I can’t really say. I would tell you, but the other person’s very sensitive to the numbers.
Sramana Mitra: But was it a significant amount of money?
Peter Mann: It was for me. It was big enough to start this business.
Sramana Mitra: Sounds like you were able to self-fund your new company.
Peter Mann: Yes, I totally self-funded this business.
Sramana Mitra: What drew you to this concept and what was in your mind when you started this business?
Peter Mann: I grew up in New York and moved in to the south. I have self-developed allergies that I never had as a kid. While we sold air purifiers, I never really found one that was effective for me. Also, the experience that I had with my son and his asthma drew me to this. I know there are a lot of people with asthma and allergies who are looking for non-invasive, non-drug type of products. I just thought that there had to be a way. That was what drove me.