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CHICAGO-BASED LUMINAID GOES IN FRONT OF “THE SHARKS”
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.
RSVP for the viewing party here.
What’s Next for LuminAID?
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!
Learn more about ChildFund and the work they do to support children around the world here: https://www.childfund.org/
Do you have a relationship with a charity that could use lights to do good? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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.