Founder Spotlight: Dustin Onghanseng of uHoo

Towards a Healthier Environment and Lifestyle

by Danielle Esquillo

 

Air pollution is the single largest environmental hazard in the world.

Poor air quality is often associated outdoors and little do people know about the quality of air they breathe in indoors. In fact, indoor air is 2 to 5 times than outdoors and people spend 90% of their time indoors. However, people do not know what they’re breathing in and how it’s affecting their health. It is basically being taken for granted because you can’t manage what you can’t measure. This is a serious problem that is causing various health issues.

To address this problem, Dustin Onghanseng and Brian Lin created uHoo. uHoo aims to create an awareness of the air you breathe and how your habits and lifestyle affect what you breathe in at home or in the office. With this information, uHoo would also be able to provide you with insights and recommendations about your habits so you can live healthier and create safer indoor environments.


Dustin Onghanseng was born and grew up in the Philippines. He moved to Singapore at the age of 20 under a full scholarship from the Singapore government to pursue his university degree at the National University of Singapore (NUS). During his university days, Dustin already dabbled with startups and hardware. He had a patent under his name at the age of 23, which he tried to turn into a full fledged business. However, things didn’t turn out as he planned as hardware is an area that investors are generally wary of. Thus, he pursued a career in management consulting.

In spite of a rapid climb on the corporate ladder, the entrepreneurial itch never left him. He left his job and went to HKUST for an MBA degree with the main objective of finding a co-founder to start another company. In the hollowed halls of his school’s dormitories and old buildings was where uHoo was born.


It all started with addressing a personal pain that he and Brian both experience. Dustin has allergic rhinitis while Brian has asthma. Both built uHoo with the premise of addressing their own problems but eventually the co-founders realized that there is a much larger problem air quality problem inside offices, hotels, schools, homes and various indoor spaces.

Studies have shown that improving the indoor air quality in offices saves companies US$ 700 per employee per year from health related issues and increases productivity through better cognitive thinking and mental alertness. Hotels also gain more loyal customers because indoor air quality is directly linked to sleep quality. Parents, on the other hand, can keep their children healthier and prevent the onset of any respiratory related illness such as asthma, rhinitis, COPD and allergies.


On top of people’s health and wellness, uHoo also provides companies insights on how to save energy by optimizing the use of their HVAC systems and also provide data for building retrofitting design.

uHoo is the most advanced indoor air quality sensor with 8 dedicated sensors for optimum coverage and performance. It is the size of a soda can and designed to be part of your home’s or office’s aesthetic appeal.

Turning uHoo from idea to reality took considerable effort as the right team was required. There was also no compromise on the quality of the product. It just had to be the best in the market because you can never put a price on people’s health. In spite of the challenges of a startup, both co-founders, together with the rest of the team, had the resolve to push on and move uHoo forward.


Dustin stressed the importance of character and “the guts to do it”. Fear and excuses will not make your ideas real and will just stop you from taking that crucial first step. If you want to jump, jump.