COVID-19 Stories: Michigan Ross Master of Management Alum Launches Innovative Face Mask Startup
While masks have become essential to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, complaints of personal comfort and fit of these devices persist. A recent graduate from the Ross School of Business believes she’s found a solution: a smart mask with a micro-cooling fan filtration technology that allows individuals to breathe easily while staying highly protected.
Arohi Jain, MM '20, launched her company BreezeBubble only weeks ago and she’s already selling dozens of masks. Jain said BreezeBubble masks are differentiated from others on the market because they provide both high comfort and high protection.
“Most current masks have a tradeoff,” explained Jain. “The ones that are comfortable like cloth and surgical masks are not very protective versus the ones that provide high protection like N95 that are restrictive, tight, difficult to breathe through.”
To make a more comfortable yet protective mask, Jain said BreezeBubble uses a microfan technology that creates a fresh airflow around the nose and mouth and a smooth silicone seal edge, which takes the shape of the face and forms an airtight seal.
Jain began working on BreezeBubble in October 2019 while she was a student in the Ross Master of Management program. She was inspired by her trip to visit her family back home in India. She explained how due to extreme pollution during recent years, it had become increasingly difficult for her family to go outside without wearing an uncomfortable and restrictive mask.
“Most people around my family and neighborhood now choose to stay indoors. This problem has affected the lifestyle of people who are exposed to polluted air,” said Jain. “I became passionate about the idea of a highly breathable, high-protection mask to enable my family and people living in polluted air environments to lead active, healthy, and comfortable lives while outdoors.”
When the pandemic hit, Jain realized her innovative masks could help the public tackle the crisis by providing the ergonomic and safety upgrades over other available alternatives. That has led to a quick surge in sales.
Entrepreneurial support from Michigan Ross
Jain said Michigan Ross has offered her an abundance of resources that have aided her in launching BreezeBubble, including access to Zell Lurie Institute (ZLI), the powerful Ross network, and mentorship. Through the ZLI, Jain received a $1,500 grant from the Dare to Dream Phase 2 Grant, which helped her with customer discovery and in creating her business plan.
Jain shared that the people she met during her time during the MM program have been extremely helpful and invaluable in her journey with BreezeBubble.
“I found mentors in Ross professors Jim Price, Marcus Collins, and Stewart Thornhill, who have been super helpful in giving me advice and mentorship for Breezebubble,” she said.
Additionally, Jain has worked part-time with friends Jacob Cohen, BBA ‘20, and Blake Washington, MM ‘20, who have helped her with BreezeBubble’s business development, market strategy, and company website. BreezeBubble will also be working with BBA students at the MEG Consulting group at Ross this fall, she said.
Jain’s favorite part of being the founder of BreezeBubble has been receiving so much help and support from Ross, U-M, and the Ann Arbor entrepreneurial community.
“I hope to pay it forward by helping new startups and entrepreneurs the same way in the future,” she said.
BreezeBubble’s plans include expanding the team, applying to incubators for funding, growing the customer base, and reaching international markets over the next year.