Emerging Entrepreneurs

Bog Orchid machine: Setting a non-toxic trap to kill mosquitoes

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on July 08, 2019 Published on July 08, 2019

Hemachandra Bhovi, CEO & Co-founder, MGH Labs Pvt Ltd   -  N. Ramakrishnan

MGH Labs uses chemicals that mimic human body odour to trap the vector

It was a chance observation that led to Hemachandra and his two co-founders starting MGH Labs. One of the co-founders Gokul, to whom he is related by marriage, and he were working on some project when they saw mosquitoes getting attracted to some compound they had prepared. They observed it for 2-3 days and intentionally spilt some of the concoction on the ground in a few places and also on a piece of cloth. They found that mosquitoes were getting attracted.

“We analysed the component, went into details on the chemistry, behaviour, where those compounds are used, analysed and finetuned it. We then made the pheromone,” says Hemachandra.

It is obvious Hemachandra has done a lot of studying on mosquitoes, as he describes in detail about the behaviour of mosquitoes and how they go about stinging human beings for their blood. “We studied about mosquitoes and we have a lot of entomologists who support us,” he says. He will tell you about how female mosquitoes identify and size up their targets, body odour being one of the parameters they sense, before deciding to move in for the kill.

The mosquitoes, he explains, thanks to their compound eyes, rebuild a thermal image of the object, differentiating an inanimate one from a human. They figure out various other aspects of the human being, including the blood group, which they sense from the body odour.

“We have replicated six parameters that a mosquito sees, into our device,” says Hemachandra. For the visual, MGH Labs uses LEDs; for the body heat, it uses a heater; for the body odour, the company uses pheromones; for ear and other things, the company uses frequencies; and, for sucking the mosquito once it comes near the machine, the company uses a suction mechanism.

According to him, once the mosquito is sucked into the machine, its antenna is broken, resulting in the mosquito’s death. There are more than 1,600 parameters that a mosquito uses to identify a host before biting. MGH Labs has replicated the best possible six and used them in the device.

Non-toxic product

MGH Labs’ machine – Bog Orchid – is not a repellant; it kills the mosquitoes. And, unlike the chemicals used in repellants, Bog Orchid uses chemicals that are non-toxic. The company did extensive pilots in Chennai, before launching the product in the market. It makes the machines at a facility in Chennai. Even during pilots, there was tremendous response from customers and many of them were willing to pay upfront for the machine, long before the company was ready to launch it commercially.

The company used the feedback from its first batch of customers to improve the product. Now, it has two versions of the machine – one that can be used in houses and another for larger areas and public spaces. The one that can be used in houses can cover an area of 2,000 sq ft. Along with the machine, MGH Labs will send out four bottles having 100 ml of the liquid, which will last a year of daily use. A machine for residential units costs around ₹1,800, while that for larger areas costs ₹22,000. The company is working on bringing down the costs of both machines; the residential ones to less than ₹1,000 a piece. MGH Labs raised around ₹6.5 crore ($1 million) in October 2018 from Ventureast and Fireside Ventures and will look to raise more funds depending on the strategy it adopts to go pan-India. The company will have to decide whether its sales will only be online, as they happen now, or whether it will sell the machines through retail outlets and through marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart. There will be a bit of tinkering of the product in terms of design and to improve its efficacy.

Right now, the products are available in Chennai and Bengaluru. MGH Labs is building an IoT solution into the machine, so that it can be used for preventive healthcare also. Its factory in Chennai can make over 1,000 small devices and around 10 big devices a day. It has space at the facility to scale up production if demand picks up.

 

Published on July 08, 2019
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