Interview with CEO of BreatheIO, Startup of the Year in Lahore Nomineeby@limarc
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Interview with CEO of BreatheIO, Startup of the Year in Lahore Nominee

by Limarc AmbalinaJuly 29th, 2021
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Muhammad Bilal is the CEO of BreatheIO, a smart air purifier. He is nominated in HackerNoon's Startups of the Year Awards for Best Startup in Lahore. He started his startup when he encountered the first happenings of smog in Pakistan in 2015. The air quality is based on the amount of 2.5-meter sized particles that are measured on the measure of six different gases including carbon monoxide, Ammonia, Acmonia and Tolene in the air. This is a new measure of air quality.

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Welcome to Hacker Noon's startup interview series hosted on Slogging! Thanks for joining us. Today, we're speaking to Muhammad Bilal, Founder of BreatheIO.

BreatheIO is nominated in HackerNoon's Startups of the Year Awards for Best Startup in Lahore. We interviewed Muhammad to learn more about BreatheIO and his journey. Let's see what he had to say.

Let's start by introducing yourself to the community. Please tell us briefly about your career and educational background.

Muhammad BilalJul 28, 2021, 3:57 AM

My career started when I was just 13 years old, struggling to satisfy my taste for computer gaming. It was an expensive hobby that constantly needed upgrading computer hardware that wasn’t cheap, therefore, my career took a technical part and I started providing computer gaming hardware to initially people around me and eventually my clients.

This was a recipe that included knowing how to buy, reconstruct and sell computer hardware, therefore knowing the precise details was a key element to it. This later was peer pushed into technical education and landed up in software architecture and development. I have served 10 years of software architecture and development in the business industry, learning and deploying solutions in 57 different programming languages.

My systematic instructions at university drove me in 4 years of Bachelors in Electrical Engineering and eventually completing my Post Graduation in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning from University of Texas Austin. A lot in between as pushed me in earning certifying me as Amazon Web Services Solutions Architect Associate  and Professional, an IoT E-Degree, Entrepreneurship from Draper University, Certified Associate and Professional from Microsoft, Technical Support from Google and a Nano degree in Amazon Web Services Machine Learning from Udacity.

What's your startup called? What is your origin story and what does your startup do?

Muhammad BilalJul 28, 2021, 4:14 AM

My startup is called BreatheIO. It all started back in 2015, when I encountered the first happenings of smog in Pakistan. It was fog at first, the very beauty that dims the street lights by diffusing it making it perfect for night life candid photography, but there was a catch to it.

It wreaked of the smell of diesel. The smell was awkward but it really didn’t bother me. I used to offer voluntary service at the children’s hospital at that time. Usually we had cases mostly related to stomach, but by the very appearance of this new ghost in our city, it wasn’t much time that cases of throat infection, bronchitis and chest congestion started coming in for children under 6 months of age.

The next year, we had more and more cases this time involving adults, and it took till 2018 for the world to realize that we are undergoing climate change. The awareness was there but no one explicit enough was working on a solution. There is theory known as the chaos theory which states that the randomness of chaotic systems which make it complex have underlying patterns or connectedness, a kind of self-organization. The butterfly effect is one of its principles that describes that small changes in one state of a chaotic non-linear system can result in large differences in later state.

A metaphor would be that a butterfly flapping its wings in Lahore can cause a hurricane storm in China. Therefore, putting that principle to practice, I started searching instruments that could fix the air pollution.

I found air purifiers but after going through the reviews and feedbacks of their users, people bought it but were unable to verify whether it was actually changing their environment or not. It’s like when you have fever you need an instrument to tell you how hot! You are.

They had to go buy an extra instrument to monitor the change in environment. This is where BreatheIO was born. BreatheIO is a Smart Air Purifier that utilize the power of Artificial Intelligence to reduce and control the Air Pollution to give longevity of human life. The standards of air quality measured is based on the sampling of air with respect the amount of 2.5 micron sized particles in it for a given sampling time. You single hair around 50 microns in diameter.

This is quite an inaccurate measure of air quality and our smart air purifiers at BreatheIO based their air quality measured on the measure of six different gases which are Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, Ammonia, Alcohol, Acetone and Toluene in the air. This is a new measure of air quality that BreatheIO is registering.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform? 

Muhammad BilalJul 28, 2021, 4:19 AM

I have been writing technical articles as a contribution to the community online, that has allowed me to develop and become what I am using Hackernoon as a platform.

At Hackernoon, I was nominated in five categories for 2020 Noonies Awards which landed me with three awards. This made me publish my own book, titled, Make Me a Programmer – The Independent Entrepreneur on Amazon.

This puts me in a league of becoming an author and which would certainly not have been possible without the great support and minimized communication gap from the Hackernoon team behind the platform.

Any living thing needs is just a little care, and you will be amazed and what a beauty can it become.

What tech are you currently most excited about and why? 

Muhammad BilalJul 28, 2021, 4:22 AM

The technology that excites me is the fusion of Internet of Things and the Cloud.

The cloud has provided a perfect landscape for bypassing the limits that we once used to have because of the limits of hardware that governs the basic layer of all the technological revolution that has occurred in the last 30 years.

I believe that everything we see around is legacy hardware, from your hair drying, washing machine, air conditioning and much more.

All this will eventually connect to the cloud and share data and information. The next 20 years is all about the cloud revolution and Internet of Things is the big part of it.

What tech are you currently most worried about and why?

Muhammad BilalJul 28, 2021, 4:25 AM

Based on my experience in the software industry, I believe that software development as a whole is very much diluted. The traditional way of developing and deploying in house solutions has already been verified as the major pothole in any company, business or organization to scale.

Therefore, the future will be for those who are Jack of all trades and master of none. Specialization will get you at a dead end, one needs more than one roads to move forward.

Who in the tech industry do you most respect and why?

Muhammad BilalJul 28, 2021, 4:27 AM

I respect Elon Musk for his constant struggle to bypass his limits. Elon's history is a clear indicator, that to bypass one’s limits, first one has to reach them.

Knowing what you know now about the tech industry, about the career you've chosen, and about life in general, what advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Muhammad BilalJul 28, 2021, 4:29 AM

Dear Boy, you are in the era of where magic happens. All magic is technology, and if you can get a hold of it, you`ll be amazed and how many Merlin’s of this time will emerge. Therefore, always remember whatever your mind produces, if you stick long enough with it, it is bound to become your reality.

What is something you've learned this year that others in your industry (or not in your industry) could benefit from knowing?

Muhammad BilalJul 28, 2021, 4:30 AM

The biggest achievements are small beginnings and all things take time, so develop patience in you to the point that you become an immovable object towards any unstoppable force.

Thanks so much for participating in the HackerNoon Startups Interview series, Muhammad!

Please be sure to vote for BreatheIO as Startup of the Year in Lahore!