By GREGORY ZELLER //
Don’t hold your breath, but the world’s first “personal escape respirator” should arrive by spring.
Lindenhurst-based Soteria Technologies has secured $200,000 in angel investments and will commence production of the first 1,000 Oxxy/Gen units in March. The lightweight breathing apparatus, designed to give one user enough air to escape a fire or other emergency situation, will be manufactured in Michigan and should be available online before summer, according to Soteria President Jeff Peterson.
Two primary investors backed the production run, according to Peterson: Michigan plastics-engineering specialist Accu-Mold and “an angel investor from Connecticut.”
While Soteria Technologies – named for the Greek goddess of safety – will keep its headquarters and marketing operations on Long Island, Accu-Mold will churn out 1,000 units “and then some,” Peterson noted.
The roughly one-pound masks, which Soteria Technologies will retail for $99 apiece, use a pebbly form of potassium superoxide to absorb the carbon dioxide when humans exhale, leaving only oxygen. The technology, similar to the way trees create oxygen through photosynthesis, was patented by veteran chemist and Soteria scientific advisor Mel Blum.
The first units off the Accu-Mold production line are expected in May and will be available online exclusively, Peterson told Innovate LI. Soteria Technologies is also in negotiations with a New York City-based marketing partner who could represent the Oxxy/Gen to “people in the high-rise real estate community,” according to the president.
The thousand-or-so run will “get us into fill-blown production mode,” Peterson added, but before that happens, Soteria Technologies wants to raise another $200,000 in VC to beef up its marketing and business-development operations.
Peterson presented the Oxxy/Genn to investors at the Long Island Capital Alliance’s Jan. 22 Healthcare Capital Forum – the sixth time he’s publicly pitched investors – and said there are a few potential backers “lined up,” including an NYC-based private investor and two Long Island companies.
That’s all in various stages of negotiation, according to Peterson, but Soteria Technologies would like to press the gas: The president, who was meeting this week with LICA President Corey Massella to discuss fundraising strategies, suggested a 60-to-90-day window to raise that next $200,000.
The company has already made some marketing and business-development progress. In January, it launched a new website including an Oxxy/Genn tutorial and click-here registration for product release notification.
It’s also run a sort of marketing beta test around a small investment in Facebook advertising. Targeting NYC residents, members of the firefighting community and “people who list themselves as survivalists,” the modest Facebook investment was meant to gauge Soteria Technologies’ ability to attract consumers to the Oxxy/Genn, Peterson noted.
“We wanted to see if people would respond to what we have, so we put up these ads, which took them directly to our website,” he said. “Some of them actually registered.
“I think if we were really selling the product, we’d have sold a bunch of them.”
All told, a $150 investment in targeted Facebook ads drove 265 visitors to the company’s website, according to Peterson – a margin that inspires the president to imagine what Soteria Technologies might do with a chunkier marketing budget.
“The money we will be raising will be going to expanding that,” he said.
Two-plus years since Peterson and Blum first crossed paths, with its first capital investments secured and its inaugural production run commencing, the Lindenhurst company is right where it planned to be, it’s chief executive said.
“Our goal was always to have it hit the streets as a product in the spring of 2016,” Peterson added. “We’re right on schedule.”