CHICAGO-BASED LUMINAID GOES IN FRONT OF “THE SHARKS”
The Founders of LuminAID solar powered lights pitch ABC’s Shark Tank Investors on Feb. 20th Episode; Find out if the Sharks Bite at a Viewing Party at The Gleacher Center
CHICAGO (January 16, 2015) – Will or won’t “the sharks” bite? Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork, co-founders of Chicago-based LuminAID will present their solar powered inflatable light invention to the distinguished panel of potential investors known as “the sharks” on ABC’s popular show, Shark Tank, on Friday, February 20. The show airs at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on ABC and Chicago investors/supporters Clean Energy Trust, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Com Ed are hosting a Shark Tank viewing party to find out if the Chicago entrepreneurs make a deal… or not.
Originally designed to provide relief and safety at night in areas of the world hit by natural disasters, LuminAID has gone on to become a reliable resource of light for any nighttime occasion. When charged outside in direct sun for seven hours, the light can provide up to 16 hours of LED light and features two settings – low and high. LuminAID lanterns are 100 percent waterproof making them a safety tool, as much as an accessory for outdoor adventure or entertaining.
The Road to Shark Tank
When architecture graduate students Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were asked to design a product to assist post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, they considered the dangerous conditions at night in the tent cities and turned their attention to a critical need: Light. They designed the LuminAID light to help keep women and children safe at night. The outcome was so revolutionary, they quickly knew they had developed a unique product and quickly filed for patent rights.
Almost immediately, others took notice. Shortly after graduating architecture school in 2011, Stork and Sreshta launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring their invention to market. They raised over 10X their initial goal and sold to customers in more than 20 different countries. They launched their first product officially in 2012 and sought additional financing through business plan competitions and grants.
LuminAID won the Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) at University of Chicago Booth’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2012 and participated in the Polsky Center’s Entrepreneurship Internship Program in Summer 2013.
LuminAID later competed as a student team finalist in the 2013 Clean Energy Trust’s Clean Energy Challenge, the Midwest’s leading clean energy accelerator program. The company won the $100,000 early stage prize. LuminAID invested this in scaling up production to meet growing demand for the product and growing their team in Chicago.
“Being invited onto Shark Tank was a dream come true for us,” said Andrea Sreshta, LuminAID Co-Founder. “As female entrepreneurs, we were fans of the show first. And now, we owe so much to ABC and the entire Shark Tank team for pushing us to take our products to a new level. We’re so excited for the future of LuminAID.”
Chicago Institutions Host LuminAID Shark Tank Viewing Party Clean Energy Trust, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, The Polsky Center and ComEd will host a Shark Tank viewing party on Friday, Feburary 20th to show their support and celebrate Chicago’s newest entrepreneurial venture, LuminAID. Doors open at 7 p.m. and guests will enjoy complimentary pizza, wine and beer before watching the Shark Tank episode live. Following the LuminAID segment, Amy Francetic of CET will moderate a Q&A panel discussion with Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta.
America will have to tune in to Shark Tank on Friday, February 20th on ABC at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT to find out if one of “the sharks” invests in LuminAID, but in the meantime, consumers can visit www.luminaid.com to see the full selection of solar-powered lights, including some new additions.
LuminAID recently expanded to include The Pack Line by LuminAID featuring three compact solar lanterns that pack flat and charge on the go: the PackLite 16, the PackLite 12, and the color-changing PackLite Spectra. All of LuminAID’s solar lights are waterproof, 100% PVC-free, and weigh less than 4oz. They have been used by first responders in Haiti, the Philippines, Kashmir, and in over 40 countries for humanitarian or emergency aid through LuminAID’s Give Light, Get Light program.
“When we created LuminAID's original solar inflatable light as students, we knew we eventually wanted to extend the technology to new shapes and performance parameters for different applications. It is exciting to take things to the next level and introduce three new lights,” said Anna Stork, LuminAID Co- Founder. “We are looking forward to working with our emergency aid customers to see the potential impact these higher performing products can have, and to also see how all of our customers will use these new shapes and lighting options for camping, emergency preparedness, and recreational use." LuminAID is sold online at www.luminaid.com, as well as on amazon.com and can be found in select retail stores like BassPro Shops and L.L. Bean.
When we think of our most basic human needs, we often think of food, water and shelter. But when architecture graduate students Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were asked to design a product to assist post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, they considered the dangerous conditions at night in the tent cities and turned their attention to another critical need: light. They designed the LuminAID light to be easily distributed in time of need by packing and shipping flat. To date, through partnerships with NGO’s and relief organizations, LuminAID has assisted thousands of women and children by providing access to light in dangerous situations. Through the Give Light, Get Light program, people who purchase a special LuminAID light for themselves and simultaneously sponsor one to help make light more accessible and sustainable for all.
An individual LuminAID light retails for $19.95 and is sold at specialty retail store or via www.luminaid.com or www.amazon.com. The Give Light, Get Light package retails for $27.95.
About the Founders
Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta met while studying architecture and design in graduate school. They shared an interest in solar lighting technology and a common belief that design and design thinking can be used to solve problems at a global scale, including improved access to basic resources such as lighting and power. From there, LuminAID was born.
When we created LuminAID's original solar inflatable light as students, we knew we eventually wanted to extend the technology to new shapes and performance parameters for different applications. It is exciting to take things to the next level and introduce three new lights in the Pack Line: the PackLite 16, the PackLite 12, and the PackLite Spectra. These products are all available for preorder in our shop now -- the PackLite 16 will start shipping next week, and the PackLite 12 and PackLite Spectra will ship in late March. The PackLite 16 is the new and updated version of our original light -- it has double the wattage, an extra-bright mode, and a 32+ hour emergency flash. The PackLite 12 and PackLite Spectra use a brand new shape -- a cube-shaped lantern with a twist-to-close feature and adjustable handle. The PackLite 12 provides up to 12 hours of light, with a 32+ hour emergency flash as well, and the PackLite Spectra changes colors. We are excited to extend our technology in these new directions and can't wait to hear what you think!
The latest update in our Notes from the Field series comes from Mr. George Babatye, who manages ChildFund's Uganda Office. Mr. Babatye helped LuminAID customer Dave distribute LuminAID lights to the children of the Katenge School in Uganda. Dave sponsors a little girl named Edisa at the school, and sent her a LuminAID light. Dave then worked with LuminAID and ChildFund to send more lights to her school in Uganda.
The children received lights and brought them home to their families, where they helped reduce the usage of dangerous kerosene lamps. Mr. Babatye writes: "the children use the light for reading and other general household work like using it while cooking, bathing at night, preparing the beds. ...Families testified that they can now access light for longer periods which was not the case before since sometimes they would be in darkness due to lack of kerosene. In a month many families said they now save up to about 2 liters which is about 5000 shillings i. e 2 dollars per family which is used on other necessities like soap, sugar, salt. Other families reported that they will progressively save and use the savings on fees and purchase of hens and goats for rearing so that in future, their children get fees. The beauty with the light is that it is moveable and can be used even under the rain, wind which is very common in these parts of the world."
Edisa receiving a LuminAID light with her fatherThank you to Dave, George, and Edisa for helping bring light to the children of the Katenge School and their families!
Do you have a relationship with a charity that could use lights to do good? Contact email@example.com for more information on our Give Light, Get Light program and the subsidies that we provide for charities and fundraisers.
We are excited to introduce the next installment in our new series, Notes from the Field, dedicated to guest bloggers who have taken and distributed LuminAIDs in parts of the world where people lack stable access to electricity. This installment will feature Rajany Matthew, a peace corps volunteer in Madagascar. We are excited to stay in touch with her as she distributes LuminAIDs to the silk weavers she works with as part of our Give Light, Get Light program and to learn more about how LuminAID lights can play a role in improving people’s lives and livelihoods. Thank you to Rajany for helping to spread LuminAID’s mission to provide access to clean and safe lighting to all! Within my community, the lights have been given to my silkweavers, who have no electricity in their homes. They use looms to weave beautiful silk scarves and have difficulty doing so after the sun goes down. Currently, they spend a lot of money on candles (which they really cannot afford) in order to work when there is no sunlight. With LuminAID lights, they will be able to continue their work in the evenings to create scarves to sell and feed their families.
Landy Voajanahary (‘Natural Silk’) is a group made up of 40 silk weavers, both men and women, who have been weaving silk for generations in the small, rural towns of Fonohasina (which means ‘to be wrapped in holiness’) and Kelifaritra (‘small town’). We are located on one of the 12 sacred hills of the Merina tribe and our ancestors were the silk weavers for the royal king of Madagascar. We mainly weave silk scarves, but are currently working on developing other products with silk. The art of silk weaving is a beautiful and rare art, and we believe that our talents should be shared with others through expanding our business overseas. There are multiple steps in the art of silk weaving – from the worm to the scarf. The silk weavers get the cocoons, boil them, wash them, spin the thread, dye the silk, and then weave the scarf. The whole process can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks.
Our towns are very small and there is no electricity or running water. There is also no typical day here in Madagascar. However, some routines that occur every day, are getting up before the sun rises, fetching water, feeding the animals (chickens, pigs, geese) and taking the cows out to graze, spending all morning and most of the afternoon working on making silk scarves. Once the sun goes down, everyone lights up their candles and continue working or doing day-to-day activities. The LuminAID lights have been incredibly beneficial to the weavers as they no longer spend most of their hard-earned money on candles and are able to work in the evening carefree since they have a reliable source of light. LuminAID lights have provided a sustainable, durable, and reliable source of light for the weavers to keep their business going and helping them generate income for their families and their community.
LuminAID is honored to have been named one of the Up-and-Comer winners of the 13th annual Chicago Innovation Awards! The winners were announced last night at Chicago’s Harris Theater on Thursday, October 30, with nearly 1,500 business and civic leaders attending. The Chicago Innovation Awards, celebrating its 13th year, is the Chicago region’s foremost recognition of the most innovative new products or services brought to market or to public service each year. “Chicago is an innovation hub with talented business leaders who have the vision to see things differently and set themselves apart from the competition,” said Tom Kuczmarski, co-founder with Chicago journalist Dan Miller of the awards. “Every winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards embodies this mindset, and each one has found a unique way to solve a previously unmet need in the market.” “We are honored to receive the Up and Comer Award from the Chicago Innovation Awards and be recognized in our hometown for contributing to the safety of our community and our consumers,” said Andrea Sreshta, co-founder of LuminAID. “We’re already planning new innovations using this unique technology in an effort to continue to contribute to Chicago’s vibrant entrepreneurial community.” “With more than 550 nominees received this year, it is clear that Chicago continues to rise as a global center of innovation. This region has become a magnet for attracting the capital and talent needed to fuel even more innovation activity and economic growth,” said Luke Tanen, Executive Director of the Chicago Innovation Awards. The complete list of this year’s Chicago Innovation Award winners can be found at www.chicagoinnovationawards.com. Tweet This!
LuminAID is excited to start a new series, Notes from the Field, dedicated to guest bloggers who have taken and distributed LuminAIDs in parts of the world where people lack stable access to electricity. The more than 8,000 LuminAID lights that have been donated and distributed in projects in over 15 countries would not have been possible without the partnerships with organizations and volunteers who have helped us to distribute LuminAID lights to those in need. Our first series will feature Alle Kamela, a peace corps volunteer in Madagascar. Alle first used LuminAID lights on her own travels and in her home in Madagascar. She then wrote to us about her project in Madagascar and how she thought LuminAID lights could be of great use in the community where she is working. We are excited to stay in touch with her as she distributes LuminAIDs to those in her village as part of our Give Light, Get Light program and to learn more about how LuminAID lights can play a role in improving people's lives on a daily basis in the village. Thanks again Alle, for helping to spread LuminAID's mission to provide access to clean and safe lighting to all!
Alle and the community she is serving in Madagascar
I live and work on the East Coast, where banana trees line river ways. It is humid and tropical, with plenty of fresh fruits and fish.
A native of Takoma Park, MD, just outside Washington, DC, I was raised in a diverse place, giving me an appreciation for all people. I realized the intrinsic beauty in discovering new ways of life at a young age, as I moved over 20 times in my childhood. The practice I gained adapting to new places and making new friends as a child has been key to my success integrating in my Peace Corps site, Ilaka Est.
In my first year of service, I held a community-wide World AIDs Day and Soccer Tournament, Malaria Day Festival, and ran Youth and Girls’ Clubs. Now I’m transitioning to a Nutrition Project, complete with household garden and healthy cooking demonstrations.
I speak a coastal dialect of Malagasy language when conducting Monthly Trainings with the local Doctor to improve Mother and Child Health services delivered to remote villages by Community Health Workers. The CHWs, all volunteers, provide education and consultations to families of children under 5, sell medicine, and administer Malaria tests. They live up to 20K away from the Health Clinic in town, so they serve as immediate responders. They help sick people 24 hours a day, in towns without electricity, so they use kerosene lamps. LuminAID’s donation will provide clean, renewable light to volunteers serving their own communities, which will positively impact the entire population, in a ripple effect.
This past January, co-founder Andrea made a trip to Pennular village outside of Chennai, India, where LuminAID hosted past Give Light, Get Light projects. In conjunction with a group of engineering students from Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, we distributed LuminAID lights to primary school students.
We are honored to visit schools and projects on the ground. It is notable to see the challenges that students around the world face, such as power cuts which affect studying at night and make it difficult for young women to stay in school. We hope to mitigate such challenges through sustainable solar-powered lighting.
LuminAID was recently honored as one of the 2014 Mothers of Invention by Toyota USA Women in the World. We had an amazing experience at the summit in New York, and are so grateful and humbled to be named among the world's leading inventors and change-makers.
As we have seen ourselves since our trip to India, young women around the world face a lot of challenges. We see the importance of good lighting for safety, education, and general wellbeing, and strive to continue distributing lights to those in need!
On Wednesday, June 18, LuminAID co-founder Andrea had the honor of attending the first ever White House Maker Faire. Hosted by President Obama, the event featured Makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs of all ages and showcased the nation's latest technological and scientific advancements. LuminAID had an incredible time speaking at the event. Andrea talked about how we made the first LuminAID prototypes with handheld heat-sealers, radio shack batteries, and all different types of solar panels. By now we've re-told our story to press and media, but it's nice to revisit the time when we were students making our prototype in the kitchen, and remember where it all started. We hope to continue to have fun experimenting with ideas, making things by hand, and perhaps most importantly, affect positive change through our inventions. This was the second time LuminAID has been represented at the White House. LuminAID's founders have also been contributors to the White House Blog. You can check out their articles here and here.
LuminAID's founders Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork were honored at the Women in the World event in New York City as Toyota's Mothers of Invention. The conference was at Lincoln Center, with over 3000 people in attendance. Watch here.
LuminAID is excited to announce its new partnership with ShelterBox! ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that provides shelter and relief aid to victims of natural and other disasters. Each ShelterBox is equipped with a tent, tool kit, stove, cooking utensils, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, and other items vital for survival. Most recently, ShelterBox has been working to send aid to over 4,500 families in Syria, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon, and Jordan. We are excited about this partnership, as it is our mission to have solar lighting commonly integrated into disaster relief aid through smart product design. In fact, it was organizations like ShelterBox that we had in mind when designing the LuminAID, making sure to create a light that was compact, lightweight, and easy to pack and distribute. We look forward to working with ShelterBox and expanding our disaster relief efforts. It is our goal to make sustainable lighting a reality for all, especially during crises and disasters.