Knowing that air pollution is an increasing environmental concern is to understand that air quality directly correlates to quality of life. This is just what KrafftIT co-founder Fredrik Krafft discovered one day when he was on a run in downtown Los Angeles. Krafft felt the debilitating effects that air pollution had on his workout, and aimed to find a solution. We spoke with Fredrik’s co-founder Kyle Walden about their inspiration for the business, as well as how his coursework at University of Southern California factored into running a start-up.
Recognizing a Need in the Market for Accessible Air Pollution Data
“Fredrik wished there was a tool that would make air, essentially, visible,” explained Walden. The LA dweller sought out apps and other resources that would tell him when was a good time to work out in metropolitan areas (according to the current air conditions), but was disappointed at the lack of publicly-accessible information out there. That’s when he and his co-founder decided to take this matter into their own hands.
Walden clarified, “The solution was to take advantage of how pretty much everyone owns an iPhone, and develop a smart phone app ‒ a device that people use daily ‒ [because] air quality is a metric that people should check daily as well!” From this, the Inhale app was born. By aggregating data from governmental organizations, the app helps users determine when is a good time to work out outdoors in areas that are more densely populated. To this end, it helps users mitigate the effects of air pollution, including pollen and ozone pollutants.
Business Classes Helps Co-Founder Kyle Walden Apply His Real-World Experience
Walden also found that his classes at University of Southern California fostered his ambitions for KrafftIT; helping him apply real world context to his coursework. He explained, “I am in the business school and most of the classes I take relate to my start-up. So my start-up basically becomes my homework, my exams, and my class curriculum. I also think it makes me learn more effectively since, whenever I am learning about a business concept, instead of using the various examples in my textbooks, I just think ‘How would this work for KrafftIT?’. Or ‘We experienced this problem, so I can really relate to that point’. I find learning much easier that way, and also my relationships with my professors outside of the classes that much more meaningful.”
Walden also mentions that for him, the experience of starting his own business and creating the Inhale app has been more valuable than working at traditional internships. He stated, “For me, one of the main pulls for working in a start-up was having that strong sense of purpose, autonomy, mastery, and responsibility that I just didn’t really feel like I was receiving from traditional internships. Why wait two or four years to make an impact on the world for the better?”
No Resources on Campus for Your Startup? Create Your Own!
As for his advice to college entrepreneurs? Walden urges that students take advantage of all of the resources that are available to undergraduates that are otherwise not available to young professionals. But even if your campus doesn’t boast the exact resources needed for your business, he urges: “Here is my favorite part: if there isn’t [any resources], start it yourself. Become an entrepreneur by building a startup community/resources within your campus. Do it with your friends as a side-hustle or a fun little project. You won’t believe where it might take you. Just a reminder: Uber started as a side-hustle.”
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