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 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.
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.
“They literally were dancing with joy when we showed them what the LuminAID solar light was and how to use it. There is no power there, so these lights make a huge impact on a family allowing them to see.”
This holiday season, LuminAID is partnering with buildOn to bring light to women around the world working to improve their circumstances through literacy. When you purchase a Special Edition Give Light, Get Light Package, you'll sponsor a light for buildOn's Adult Literacy Program.