BBV Founder Spotlight: David Lu — Clarity

The BBV Founder Spotlight is a series of posts highlighting founders from our portfolio companies and the incredible work they are pursuing to solve challenges in critical industries such as health and climate through technology innovation.

Thank you David Lu for taking the time.

Contributor Irfan Vissandjee

David Lu (Co-founder at Clarity)

Tell us about your company. What defines your innovation?

Where did your company’s name come from?

What was the motivation behind starting your company?

Although China has done a good job cleaning up the air, studying environmental science at Berkeley awakened the urge to really want to apply what I learned and have an impact. Additionally, I am passionate about social entrepreneurship, my thinking is that it is possible to build a good business model that can both attract capital while asserting a positive impact on the world. Indeed, even if this isn’t an easy task, I’m glad we are witnessing enthusiasm from stakeholders that climate change-related issues are increasingly important and have become the centre stage of political debate globally. The world is finally realising climate is vital and I’m glad we are going into this direction.

What role did the University play in the formation of your company or technology?

Self-Powered Clarity Node-S Air Quality Monitoring Hardware

How did you meet your co-founder? How long did it take?

Starting with the first one, Deepak (unfortunately he is no longer with the company) and I met at our gig working at the cafeteria in our dishwashing job. Both of us were handling dishes, an incredibly boring job but we both clicked given his tech-savvy background. The second co-founder I met was Hannah (also no longer active with the company) through our chemical lab. She was passionate about Environment and I could tell she was a bright student, so the team was composed organically and the three of us initially pitched the Foundry. As we started, Baljot (who was Deepak’s roommate) was brought up to speed and started with us given his mechanical engineering background. It was decided later that he could play a bigger role in the company given the complementary skills within the team.

Paolo, the last co-founder, and I met one year after the company formation when we raised angel funding. He was the lead developer for the technology and was going to become the CTO.

The big part we all share is our care for the environment which has tied and glued our team throughout the challenging times.

How is the firm different today than when you first started?

How has the fundraising process been for the company?

Concerning the Seed round, it was a lot of chance somehow. We impressed the financing team with our model and prototype and next thing you know we were on a plane to Switzerland to negotiate a deal and sign a contract, within a 2-month time frame.

The next round was relatively quick as well. I had been fundraising for a while but back in December, we were introduced to an investor who was super jazzed about our mission. He loved the team and immediately started the due diligence on Clarity, initially by sending 5 pages of questions. We worked over Christmas, provided him with a 100 pages documentation to complete the due diligence process. The investor loved our dedication and we eventually received the term sheet in January that we closed before the pandemic hit.

What aspects of BBV’s coaching and support was the most helpful?

What’s ahead for your company in 2021?

Let me remind you that the US air quality monitoring infrastructure is falling apart. We actually see this as an opportunity for a transition into new ways to monitor air quality by leveraging the latest IoT technology and use this as a supplement to existing infrastructure.

It’s a future of accurate, reliable and enhanced data collection (100s vs. a couple of sensors at the moment) to better inform municipalities with air quality management decisions and on top of that making significant budget savings. 2021 is a great year to push that concept forward so our hope is that by 2023 our solution can be rolled out to 1000 cities in the world.

We believe that goal is achievable with the right partners, which we have started to engage with.

What lasting impact do you want to leave with your company?

Being able to precisely measure air pollution empowers governments, businesses, and communities to act with confidence when taking steps to improve air quality. . So we’re focused on making it easier and more cost-effective for our customers to access hyperlocal air quality data they can trust — because measurement is the first step to improvement.

Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less

Clarity’s environmental conscious team