Money out of thin air. The path of Alexei Pershin to its own production of high-tech air filters

(Author: Timothy Dzyadko)

Stalls for Coca-Cola, advertising boxes and water parks — this was the way physicist Alexei Pershin, and now — a director of the company "Airlife" to its own production of high-tech air filters and a multi-million dollar investment by RUSNANO.


Annual revenue "Airlife" is $ 2.5-3 million per year. After five years, the company has to increase it to 10 times, to $ 30 million and take 20% of the market of air purifiers — the task put before Pershin RUSNANO and agreed several months ago to invest in "Airlife" 261 million rubles. To come to such financial measures and cooperation with RUSNANO, a former researcher at the Institute of Organic Chemistry, it took 20 years.

His first co-op graduate of PTI and the young scientist Alexei Pershin organized in 1988, after the laboratory of his institute was closed, and in its place opened a bank. Co-op produced a device for controlling a laser beam (now draw on such clouds in large-scale show). Pershin did not set a goal to earn exclusively on scientific research: he founded the company three years later with the "scientific" name "Information Technology Institute" (ITI) has started to manufacture banal stalls and boxes. The portfolio — 100 stalls for SosaCola, 67 pavilions engine oil Shell, advertising design and branded urns for PepsiCo. "I was not very interested, because I’m in the specialty chemical physicist", — Says Forbes Pershyn. However stalls and boxes made him the first $ 1.5 million

When a classmate Pershyn Evgeny Savin asked him to do the production of air purification systems, he gladly agreed. Savinov lived and worked in Novosibirsk using photocatalytic air purification. Under the influence of ultraviolet light pollutant particles that create odors, bacteria and viruses, passing through the porous material with nanocrystalline photocatalyst are decomposed into carbon dioxide and water. This process was discovered in the early XX century, but to use it for commercial air cleaning began only recently.

In the crisis of 1998 Pershyn lost, he said, two-thirds of wages. The remaining half-million dollars it has invested in the development of air cleaners: with Savinov (a few years ago, partner died of heart disease) started renting the shop, conduct research and produce the first samples. Soon it became clear that one of photocatalysis is not enough: it copes with unpleasant odors, and with aerosols (eg, cigarette smoke), and particulate matter, such, for example, as soot, alone it does not cope. If the catalyst is not the time to clean the dirt from these, he will work as well. Studies have continued and are still financed by the ISI, which by then had moved from manufacturing to the design of kiosk water parks — in the Lazarev, Krasnodar and Moscow.

Gradually began to engage the release of ITI professional cleaners for offices, medical facilities, restaurants. In addition they have photocatalyst applied electrostatic filters which retain small particles of 0.1 micron dust and smoke. In addition, the company started producing selective filters that clean the air of a particular substance, such as ammonia. But the first major customer, the company has appeared only in 2004 — a group Ilieva — Nisanova.

"In order to do a demonstration for people Ilieva, we have put in the yard barbecue and fried skewers. Included alongside our cleaner. Around the smoke, and on the side where the unit, no smoke or smell"- Says Pershyn. Demonstration at the barbecue resulted in his company engaged in the manufacture of filters for air purification, a major customer — the business capital of entrepreneurs group of Azeri origin Zarah Iliev and Year Nisanova, the owners of the hotel "Ukraine" and giant shopping center "European".

Iliev ordered a kitchen set for a "European" in the restaurant which, as explained technical director of shopping center Alexander Rybakov, every 20 minutes on the barbecue grills and roasts 75 pounds of meat. Fishermen offered himself Pershin add prefilters cleaners that are "quenched plasma" — a drop of grease and oil. The cost of such an installation is about 1.5 million rubles, and its life — five years. Then the "European" ordered five plants. Since then, the business of manufacturing of air purifiers has to pay off. Pershin singled it out as a separate company.

Among the major clients of the company, in addition to the group Ilieva — Nisanova, you can also note TNK-BP network and "Chocolate".

In 2010, the development of "Airlife" agreed to support the Supervisory Council of RUSNANO. State Corporation will provide for the expansion of production of 261 million rubles, another 319 million rubles will be invested Anatoly Karpov (see "Chess Investor") and other shareholders "Airlife". RUSNANO project has received 45%, the remaining 55% is distributed between Karpov and partners (33%) and management led by Pershin (22%). For documents (including intellectual property rights) took a year and about 5 million rubles, but Pershyn not upset. "RUSNANO will help with the organization of marketing, after all purchases in the state bodies are directive", — He says. In addition, through a partnership with RUSNANO "Airlife" expects to expand production (already built a factory in the Moscow region, first of all — 2500 sq. m.), To go outside of Moscow (the capital accounts for 70% of sales) and gain a foothold in the mass market.

Time and the market will show whether "Airlife" take a major share in the market of household air cleaners, says Ivan Myasnikov, technical director "Termot-raid" in supplying Russian photocatalytic air purifiers Japanese Daikin. According to him, the instruments Pershyn lose Japanese in design, noise performance and dimensions. But in the range of Daikin no industrial air cleaners, notes RUSNANO Managing Director Alexander Kondrashov. At least in Russia they are not supplied. The company’s future is not in doubt Kondrashov: "Scientists bring technology RUSNANO adds its competencies in the area of investment, project management, construction and sales of lobbying."


By participating in the early 2000s in the design of the water park in Krasnodar, Alexei Pershin met with world chess champion Anatoly Karpov: he was about to become a co-investor in the water park, but quickly switched to the cleaners. "I was interested in the idea of air purification (Karpov in 2006-2008 was deputy chair of the Commission for Environmental Safety and Environmental Protection in the Public Chamber. — Forbes), a Pershyn — people with good experience and knowledge" — told Forbes chess player, then invested in "Airlife" about $ 100,000. With the money from the ISI was isolated trading house "Airlife", which was to sell domestic plants clean the air. Now, household air cleaners "Airlife" sold through an online shop for 2000-3000 units per year (the entire Russian market of air cleaners, according to the Russian distributor of Japanese Daikin Daichi, in 2010 amounted to more than 97,000 devices).
Source: Forbes, 01.11.2011

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