Background and Context
Founded in 2020, R-Zero is the first company built from the ground up to tackle the transmission of pathogens in the COVID-19 era, making UV-C disinfection technologies accessible to all. Founded to help businesses protect what matters most, R-Zero’s suite of thoughtfully-designed, hospital-grade technologies and science-backed protocols reduces the transmission of pathogens and diseases they cause – from the coronavirus to the common cold.
Q&A with CEO Jennifer Nuckles
Why did you take the role of CEO at R-Zero?
I’ve been on the board of R-Zero since it launched in 2020. At that time, I was running all financial services businesses at SoFi, one of the three group business units, with a 1.5 billion dollar P&L and 4,500 people. When I looked at the big picture for R-Zero, I saw a massive opportunity to set the standard and shape the future of healthy buildings and green buildings, and to disrupt an antiquated category in which I have significant experience from the 10 years I spent at Clorox early in my career. I’m passionate about health and disinfection, and the environment and sustainability, so I was pretty excited to use my expertise to drive scale at R-Zero because it marries those interests together.
What did R-Zero achieve during the HAX Program?
The HAX program was instrumental in deploying our first product, Arc, a UV-C disinfection system for unoccupied spaces. It was designed, developed, and manufactured with the support of the HAX team in just five months. Due to supply chain and travel issues during the pandemic, R-Zero was unable to visit suppliers in-person. Duncan, Garrett and Ji physically went onsite to manufacturers to look at the first article parts for R-Zero’s prototypes. HAX represented R-Zero in negotiations, prototyped the product with their team of in-house engineers, and accelerated the product development process, which was vital. This speed led to R-Zero’s ability to close three subsequent funding rounds in just 18 months, making R-Zero one of the fastest growing hardware startups in the world. HAX totally changed the trajectory of the company.
How did your recent Series C come together? What were investors excited about?
Series C came together based on the post-pandemic opportunity to create a data-driven approach to setting the standard for what healthy buildings will achieve in the future. With Series C we are
scaling deployments of our disinfection and risk modeling technology to meet growing demand across public and private sectors, including K-12 schools, college campuses, corporate campuses, hospitals, senior care communities, parks and recreation, and other government facilities. Our IoT connected data platform scores indoor health and risk, and triggers workflows that deliver outcomes in these core verticals. Investors are excited because we are building a platform that not only benefits people today because it’s more effective, and lower cost than manual chemical disinfection, but because we’re making intentional choices to become the healthy buildings platform for the future, for example by employing intelligent design so that R-Zero devices emit 1/20th the greenhouse gas emissions compared to HVAC systems.
HAX totally changed the trajectory of the company.
What impact will R-Zero have on human health?
Studies show we achieve more in environments with healthy indoor air. With healthy buildings, we can bring kids back into classrooms safely, we can protect our frontline workers in hospitals and senior care communities, we can ensure our local, state, and federal government is supported in the services they provide to our community. We have this massive opportunity to redesign buildings so they are not only healthy, but they are also sustainable which means they are healthier for the environment and our planet.
How does R-Zero factor into climate change?
The solutions that have been hacked together to try and address indoor air quality, like turning up HVAC systems or adding more manual, chemical disinfection to cleaning protocols, are causing more harm to the environment. We’re proud of helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals by eliminating chemical waste byproducts from manual cleaning and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We also offer a total building solution, where UV-C is applied by room type and use case so that energy consumption is monitored and can be dialed up and down based on occupancy and risk.