Peter Mann built a multi-million dollar air purifier company out of concern for his asthmatic son. His business, Oransi, has sold over 100,000 units despite fierce competition in the B2B air purifying market.
In this article from a recent interview with him, Mann shared his entrepreneurial journey and strategies for building a successful brand that resonates with customers.
From Personal Motivation to Business Opportunity
Mann first became passionate about indoor air quality when his infant son developed asthma. “It really left a mark on me and is my drive to help him and people like him,” Mann explained.
Years later, the purifying industry drastically changed due to COVID-19. As Mann described, “COVID really shined a light on the importance of indoor air quality. That created a much bigger market, but it also brought in a lot of competition.”
This unexpected shift presented a new business opportunity. Schools and offices wanted air purifiers so people felt safe to gather indoors again. The niche market Mann had started in was now in high demand.
Leveraging Fortune 500 Marketing Experience
Although new to manufacturing, Mann brought transferable skills from working in operations and marketing at Dell and Tech Data.
“It’s about understanding the numbers,” said Mann. “You could spend a ton on advertising and it just doesn’t make sense.” He emphasized the need to combine creativity with analytics when marketing a product.
Mann suggested using website analytics and competitor analysis tools like SEMrush. These provide data to set realistic goals. As Mann put it, you need to understand “where you are and where you want to be.”
Focusing on Customer Pain Points
According to Mann, effective marketing requires viewing things from the customer's perspective. “What do they care about? What are their pain points?” he asked.
Mann built trust by addressing customers' concerns about air purifiers. For schools and offices new to purchasing them, Mann provided educational content on standards and best practices.
He also shared customer reviews, saying, “There’s an emotional aspect to it and most people buy on emotion.” Reviews give buyers confidence when making big new purchases.
Continuous Improvement Over Time
Starting out, Mann private labeled existing products. Over the years, Oransi evolved to designing custom air purifiers and controlling the manufacturing process.
As Mann stated, “I don’t think you ever really crush it year one. It’s a bit of a journey.” By gradually improving, Oransi built an authoritative brand that ranks well and converts buyers.
The Painful Lesson of Taking Deposits
Despite Oransi's general success, Mann shared one major misstep. Early on, he took a large custom order without requiring a deposit. The customer backed out last minute, leaving Oransi stuck with the unwanted inventory.
They eventually sold the items, but it took over a year. “That was pretty painful," Mann admitted. He learned to always get deposits, especially on custom orders.
A Sustainable Competitive Advantage
For future differentiation, Mann is onshoring manufacturing to the US. This supports right-to-repair and sustainability. If products break, Oransi can fix them rather than having them end up in landfills like most competitors' Chinese-made offerings.
Showcasing skilled American workers also connects with customers. "They want to buy from someone who they share values with," Mann explained.
Key Takeaways for Entrepreneurs
Mann emphasized the Seth Godin principle of “build marketing into your product.” While more upfront effort, optimized products are inherently easier to sell.
By addressing buyers' pain points, continuously improving, and staying focused on shared values, Mann built an air purifier brand that resonates. He turned an unlikely personal motivation into a flourishing business poised for future success.