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Dario Gristina of ‘PleXus Health Science’: “Business is NOT just business. It’s personal”

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. Much like the changes following the 9/11 attacks, and irrespectively of any upcoming vaccines or therapies, I believe that COVID-19 will have a lasting significant impact on the way we work, travel, interact with one another and deeply affect our comfort level within closed environments. Indoor activities will […]

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. Much like the changes following the 9/11 attacks, and irrespectively of any upcoming vaccines or therapies, I believe that COVID-19 will have a lasting significant impact on the way we work, travel, interact with one another and deeply affect our comfort level within closed environments. Indoor activities will be predicated by social distancing, and all associated cleaning methods and technologies adopted will be key to provide a sense of security and well being to occupants.

From chemical sprays to ionizing foams, there are many products emerging to help sanitize interior spaces and provide a safer environment for its occupants. UVC lighting, both at the 253.7 nanometer wavelength and possibly Far-UVC at 180 nanometers are a great tool in the arsenal to provide efficient and inexpensive sterilization of air and surfaces.

We have filed a couple of patents in this very area aiming at providing both, permanently installed UVC systems in closed spaces ranging from offices to elevator cabs, and portable high powered UVC sterilization units that can provide immediate and thorough environmental sterilization. I believe that knowing that a given restaurant, conference room or doctor’s office for example utilizes periodic UVC sterilization procedures will be a huge help in easing the minds of occupants, now and in the future.


As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dario Gristina.

Dario is the Chief Executive Officer for PleXus Health Science that developed the high-tech PleXus UVC-650 device that uses UV light to kill bacteria and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Commonly used for health care facilities and labs, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is now available to the general public for restaurants, offices, residential use and more.

Dario is a strong business development professional with an AES focused in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from RCA Engineering. With a demonstrated history of working in the renewables and environment industry, he is skilled in Smart Grid, Facility Management (FM), Electrical Wiring, Contract Management, and Renewable Energy.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a young man and a creative dreamer, I found electrical engineering and computer science extremely fascinating. Following graduation, I worked for about a year and a half for a company that manufactured mainframe computer systems back in the mid 80’s. In late 1986, my father was presented an opportunity to start an electrical consulting company that served major commercial real estate landlords in NYC. I immediately joined him in creating one of the very first companies in NYC that mapped out electrical distribution grids of large commercial buildings and delivered drawings and energy calculations in CAD.

That started 34 years of innovative services to the commercial, institutional and residential real estate industry with services ranging from utility metering systems, to high-speed internet communications, electrical construction, Power Over Ethernet lighting control systems and other related services.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I started a company in 1997 aimed at providing high-speed internet access to tenants in large commercial buildings. After signing my first deal with a major RE owner in NYC, I proceeded to purchase a high-speed communication line to and from a hub, which I set up with all routing and related computer equipment. Back then, as what I call the “Cowboy Days” of the internet business, finding skilled IT engineers was not an easy task. In fact, as the CEO and CTO, it became clear that it was completely up to me to figure out how to setup a huge Nortel Router and making all IP traffic connections work between the DS3 incoming internet line and the the T1 links to POPs (Points of Presence) in the various buildings. To boot, I had just signed a major bank as a customer who insisted on having the high-speed internet connection up and running by a certain date, or else.

Well, I ended up working for a 48-hour marathon of failures, programming disasters and plenty of expletives later, in a room with no windows, bad lighting and with computer and equipment racks humming relentlessly. I must have been on the phone with just about every tech support person on the Nortell payroll, not to mention the folks at UUNet and Metropolitan Fiber Systems to figure out how to program all these systems and get to keep my prized client. It wasn’t easy, I tell you. However, after verifying high-speed internet connectivity at the desktop computer of the banking President’s office and seeing the smile on his face when websites loaded instantaneously I clearly remember a feeling of pride and accomplishment like never before. After that, I drove home and fell asleep with a smile on my face for a much-deserved nap.

Can you tell us about the Cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. Much like the changes following the 9/11 attacks, and irrespectively of any upcoming vaccines or therapies, I believe that COVID-19 will have a lasting significant impact on the way we work, travel, interact with one another and deeply affect our comfort level within closed environments. Indoor activities will be predicated by social distancing, and all associated cleaning methods and technologies adopted will be key to provide a sense of security and well being to occupants.

From chemical sprays to ionizing foams, there are many products emerging to help sanitize interior spaces and provide a safer environment for its occupants. UVC lighting, both at the 253.7 nanometer wavelength and possibly Far-UVC at 180 nanometers are a great tool in the arsenal to provide efficient and inexpensive sterilization of air and surfaces.

We have filed a couple of patents in this very area aiming at providing both, permanently installed UVC systems in closed spaces ranging from offices to elevator cabs, and portable high powered UVC sterilization units that can provide immediate and thorough environmental sterilization.

I believe that knowing that a given restaurant, conference room or doctor’s office for example utilizes periodic UVC sterilization procedures will be a huge help in easing the minds of occupants, now and in the future.

How do you think this might change the world?

In addition to other cleaning techniques, UVC lighting can provide highly efficient sterilization of air and surfaces at very competitive pricing. Imagine a world where indoor air constantly scrubbed sanitized. Aside from the COVID-19 risk, the vast majority of communicable diseases are spread through air and surface contamination. I personally think of this every time I go to my doctor’s office or visit someone in a hospital. Widespread UVC lighting adoption could lead to drastically reduced rates of infection ranging from the flu, the common cold, gastrointestinal bugs and all sorts of other pathogens that affect each and everyone of us on a regular basis. Wouldn’t this be good for the world?

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

While recent studies have shown that exposure to Far UVC light is likely not dangerous to humans, more studies are needed. Exposure to UVC light at 253.7nm is not a good idea either, so any UVC light device must be used with care, in conjunction with operating instructions and recommendations.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Given my engineering background we began to design systems for permanent installation of UVC light in many types of interior spaces and filed for a patent in this field. However, I also realized that we needed something that could be delivered quickly, cheaply, that could be easily moved from one location to another and be powerful enough to provide speedy results. Our PleXus UVC-650 is the manifestation of that thinking and related efforts.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We have just recently begun our marketing campaign and are now engaging in recruiting sales organizations to present our product to the market. There are several vertical market segments and while this is a good thing; we are evaluating which of these markets represents the “low hanging fruit” for our product. To help in the process we are raising some additional capital which will help us create additional products and substantially expand our marketing campaign.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We have just engaged a fantastic PR firm, TransMedia Group, that has begun to work diligently on getting our message out, as evidenced by this interview. As far as our marketing strategy, we intend to engage companies that are currently serving the various market segments by providing substantial incentives for the sales and lease of our units. In addition, we intend to recruit independent contractors in selected markets to be able to provide live product demonstrations and help us achieve strong market penetration. We will strive to let PleXus UV become a household name by providing superior products that work, are cheaper than the competition, and are made in the USA.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are surely many people that over the years have coached and supported me. However, I must say that my father was always my idol with respect to family and business. He always encouraged my creativity and provided me with knowledge, support and love.

I remember one instance when after some personal difficulties and failures my dad visited my booth at the 1998 Telecom Show in NYC. He marveled at the size and expanse of the exposition booth, smiled at me and said: “Glad to see that my larger than life son has returned!” My company went on to win the “Best in Show” award much to my father’s pride. I miss him everyday!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

One of the things I am fortunate to have been exposed to is an organization called Fountain House. Fountain House is a wonderful non-for-profit organization that helps those that live with mental illnesses.

Because of geographical happenstance (my office was located very near their headquarters), I met a lady named Esther Montanez back in the late 90’s. We became friends while, unbeknownst to me at the time, she was a director of Fountain House and a Commissioner of Human Rights for the NYC Giuliani Administration. Following the 9/11 attacks, Esther reached out to me asking me to help her members that had just created Fountain Gallery and were distraught about the 9/11 event. Fountain Gallery is an extension of Fountain House catering to their members who are also artists. Not sure as to what to do I created an event where these artists could expose and sell their art, recruiting friends and business associates from the NYC real estate industry. The event was a big success and I was glad to be able to organize it and run it for a full decade. The event still goes on every year in NYC and continues to be a tremendous help to Fountain House and its members in alleviating the stigma of mental illness and raising much needed funds for the artists.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Business is NOT just business. It’s personal.

a. It takes passion and selflessness to create a business. Only someone that has not created a business from an idea can just summarize it as ‘business.”

2. You always need more capital than you think!

a. If you engage with an investor that starts to cut your budgets, run the other way!

3. Banks are NOT your friends.

4. Get a good and honest CFO!

a. I had the unfortunate experience of having a CFO and VP of Finance take a large sum of money from our company — we got it back, thankfully and justice was served.

5. Stay the course!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The Alcubierre Warp Drive is a speculative but possibly valid solution to Einstein’s field equations that would allow for FTL (faster than light) travel. I would create a worldwide fund for the brightest, young minds to research and ultimately create a way to travel FTL with a prize for the first individual or team capable of demonstrating a working device.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Your Business is like your child. It needs attention, dedication and love. And definitely more than one parent! I could not have gone on in business without my partners, who happen to be my brothers, and many other “caring parents” to the business. Going it alone just does not work.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

UVC lighting is a great technology that up till now has been used in niche markets with limited applications. With its many benefits we see a huge expansion of this technology with wide application in the coming decade. The creation of a strong brand and associated product line has the potential to reach every interior space, from homes to doctor offices, and become a ubiquitous fixture in our daily lives. Invest now for outsized returns.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Website: http://plexushealthscience.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PleXus-Health-Science-605479030107316/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/plexus-health-science/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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