Second Nature, recently rebranded from the name FilterEasy, provides a subscription service to deliver air filters on a regular basis for both consumers and businesses. Former NC State students Thad Tarkington and Kevin Barry, the current CEO and COO respectively, completed two years as business administration majors before leaving to start their business.
“We started out in 2012 as a direct-to-consumer air filter subscription,” Tarkington said. “Essentially, we deliver filters to people’s households on a regular schedule, ensuring they never forget to change them. The reason people utilize us is because we carry every size and quality of filter. We can customize a schedule right for them. We’re priced the same as a store plus the convenience of being delivered to your door.”
The premise is simple: to deliver new air filters for the same price you would buy them in the store. Realizing this was possible created excitement between the founders, who then had to figure out the logistics required to give each customer exactly what they need on time.
The quality of an air filter, according to the Second Nature website, is measured using the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective the air filter is at “trapping airborne particles and toxins.” After a free trial, prices begin at $12 per filter, but upgrades can be made to catch different kinds of particulate matter, with the most expensive being $50+ per filter.
“Changing your air filters has three primary benefits, one of those being air quality,” Tarkington said. “The second one is energy efficiency for the home, and the third is protecting your HVAC. The indoor can be about 2.5 times worse than outdoor air, because we trap harmful particles in our home.”
Connections with NC State and the Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) on campus provided the resources and opportunities necessary for the startup. While at NC State, Barry and Tarkington also engaged with the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization (CEO) club, allowing them to interact with a few thousand people as well as mentors. Despite not receiving degrees after completing only two years at university, they still hire from the talent pool in the triangle area.
“If the resources like EI or the CEO Club weren’t there, we may never have had the same connections, and this may never have occurred,” Tarkington said. “Some of our hires are from NC State. They’re all local to the area.”
Second Nature’s recent rebranding from FilterEasy is part of an effort to expand the company’s offerings under their fully established subscription service. Barry said the company plans to provide new products to their customers come 2020, moving toward a larger goal of eliminating worry for other household replacements.
“That’s something we’ve always planned on doing from the time the company began,” Barry said. “We thought there was a huge opportunity to focus on air filters to begin with, but knew logically that there were other products we could move into and continue to expand more once we had built up a solid base of customers.”
Barry provided some advice for entrepreneurs or those interested in the startup culture.
“The No. 1 thing for entrepreneurial success that I’ve seen is just perseverance and sticking to it,” Barry said. “Putting your head down, knowing what you’re trying to accomplish while staying smart. You can’t give up early and should be really focused on the long-term.”
Second Nature will be releasing new products, such as fridge water filters, for their subscription service in 2020. More information about the business can be found on its website.