How Two NC State Students Launched A Filter Delivery Startup

Nov 23, 2016

FilterEasy, a startup founded by two N.C. State University students, delivers home and business air filters through the mail.
Credit FilterEasy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends home and business owners replace their air filters once per quarter, and in some cases as often as once per month. A Raleigh startup founded by two N.C. State University students hopes that most people would rather not try to remember that on their own.

Investors have taken note, pumping nearly $5 million into the startup, according to records with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kevin Barry and Thad Tarkington met at N.C. State. On an otherwise normal Saturday, Barry said he had a frustrating experience trying to replace an air filter for his apartment, an ordeal that took four hours.

"He ended up finally getting the filter, but it ended up taking him the good majority of the afternoon, and it was only for a ten- or fifteen-dollar filter," said Tarkington. "As we started looking more and more into it, we realized this is a fairly common problem."

That experience led to the idea for FilterEasy, a company that delivers the correct air filter right to customer’s front doors.

"There are hundreds of different consumer sizes, thousands of different business sizes, and we deliver that exact bundle of the exact sizes needed on the correct frequency," said Tarkington. "And it’s really kind of checking that one thing off the to-do list of remembering to change your filters every quarter."

The company doesn’t get into supply chain specifics, but has a contract with a manufacturer that allows FilterEasy to deliver the air filters to homes and businesses for the same price they would pay for a filter if bought at a store, according to Tarkington. Based in downtown Raleigh, FilterEasy employs 45 people at a range of functions, including working at a local fulfillment center.

Barry and Tarkington started working in earnest on the company in late 2012 and by mid-2013 saw such an opportunity that they quit school. They launched the service in March of 2014 and haven’t looked back.

"Once we saw it had legs and saw the opportunity and started working on it, we just began to pursue it full time," said Tarkington.