Karim Tarraf (CEO) Louisa Summer

Hawa Dawa

A New Commodity for Cities: Fine-Grained Air Quality Data

Founded in 2016
15 employees
Funding: €600K
Stage: Angel

Hawa Dawa aims to tackle urban air pollution, today’s biggest environmental health risk. Current air quality measurements are not fine grained enough to provide actionable insights, leading to inaction or overreaction (such as closing an entire city district). Hawa Dawa’s technology – an IoT air quality sensor network plus API + sophisticated heatmap interface – delivers a highly granular, cost effective way to design new smart city applications. Website
Highlight of the year: Raising external finance to validate the business model.

Interview with Hawa Dawa

What inspired you to found your startup?

Growing up in Cairo, a city with all the typical traits of an emerging economy regarding air quality and health, was the original stimulus. The vision was to capture, visualize and share air quality data in a comprehensive way, enabling people to take action to improve their quality of life

How are you different? What is your unique value proposition?

Hawa Dawa is simultaneously a hardware, software, and service provider with a freemium version: something our competitors are not. Two years of field tests have given us deep knowledge of the way sensors function, and have helped us find an efficient way to calibrate our data with very low uncertainty.

How do you define success for yourself and your company?

Our vision is to mainstream environmental data in decision-making and combine air quality data with other datasets to offer new insights. Where we can demonstrate that our data is robust and granular enough to drive action to tackle air pollution, we can fulfil our goal of a sustainable business model.

What do you want to achieve next year?

Establishing a sustainable business model is critical for us. We are actively pursuing market scale opportunities in both DE and CH, where our current partners are. Our goal is to partner with OEMs across these countriess and beyond, scaling to even more data points to refine and improve our data models

Why do people want to work at your company?

We are a very international team with complementary and diverse experience. We are all driven by the chance to bring about positive social and environmental change, but also by the challenge of building a company and contributing to sustainable economic growth.

What has been the most important milestone so far?

Raising funding in 2017 to liquidate us and to help grow our team was critical, leading to first deployments and the opportunity to run a year-long proof of concept intended as a demonstration of the continuing reliability of our data over time and in the field. Each new project provides important validation.

Looking back at your whole development story — what makes you most proud?

To have been able to build a team, find onboard investors, and win paying partners who believe in what we do and in our vision is a big encouragement. In the growth stage, it’s easy to forget how critical early support and accolades were in leveraging current opportunities (MIT Innovators, Kickstart in CH etc)

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

A market leader in environmental data to design future cities. Reaching scale through OEM partners via both physical digital infrastructure. Having scaled across our early target markets, we would be active across the EU and planning MENA LATAM market entry at scale

What is your impression of launching a startup from your based city?

Munich has a small but well-formed startup scene with a strong investment base and a good, supportive ecosystem. Yes, it’s more expensive than other European cities, but the city is loyal, and we have a number of supportive partners here who have good connections to other parts of the world.

What is your impression of the german startup scene? Would you change anything?

Support for startups is strong and attitudes changing. What would be good to see is a) more willing from corporates to take risks and engage in proof of concept projects with longer-term aims and b) possibilities, within short timeframes to trial and cocreate with cities as peers.

Hawa Dawa was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Germany“, November 2018.

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