Our Story - LuminAID Lab

Our Story

LUMINAID'S BRIGHT IDEA

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.

Now everyone’s getting the bright idea: hikers in Yosemite, backpackers in Whistler, and emergency workers in Nepal alike use LuminAID to light their way. Even the reality investment show ABC’s Shark Tank saw the LuminAID vision irresistible, and invited Anna and Andrea on the show for a chance to premiere their product on primetime.



Founding Team

Andrea Sreshta

Andrea Sreshta is a current MBA student at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and co-founder of LuminAID. Andrea previously worked in and studied design and architecture with an emphasis in project management. She also spent time as a summer associate intern at McKinsey and Company. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Master’s in Architecture from Columbia University prior to attending Booth. She is originally from Houston, Texas and currently resides in Chicago.

Anna Stork

 Anna Stork is a co-founder of LuminAID Lab. She was a 2012 Kauffman Global Scholar at the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship. As a Kauffman Fellow, she was an Operations Intern for the retail start-up Warby Parker. Anna has also worked in product development at the Department of Defense with a focus on developing new technologies for the military in remote locations. She completed her Master's in Architecture at Columbia University and earned her B.A. in Engineering and Studio Art from Dartmouth College. 

 

 


LuminAID lights have been used in more than 100 countries and after disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan and the earthquakes in Nepal.

LuminAID's new technology was of interest to ShelterBox due to its compact nature and high energy efficiency as well as its ease of use for the beneficiary. Further, it limits the use of natural fuels for lighting and other resources that can be critical to survival after a disaster.

-Executive Director, ShelterBox

The LuminAID Solar Light is flat-out incredible and I don't impress easily. It's sheer genius! You could charge one up, slip it in your pocket before you leave camp and be assured that you'd have plenty of light to find your way if you didn't make it back to camp before dark. It would also serve as a great light beacon to help others find you if you became lost in the dark.

- Dale A., LuminAID customer

Last night we had a blackout and the LuminAID lights out-performed the crank flashlights and lanterns. Today, I bought three more Give Light, Get Light LuminAIDs because if they could help us overnight, I can only imagine what they can do for children and families who truly need light. 

-Albert C., LuminAID customer

  


Our Timeline

 

Anna Stork and Andrea Srestha | LuminAID Solar Lights

LUMINAID IS INVENTED

  • After the Haiti Earthquake, design students Anna and Andrea invent an idea for an inflatable solar light that packs flat.
  • Anna and Andrea make the first 50 prototypes for testing by hand.  

 

LUMINAID IS LAUNCHED

  • Anna and Andrea file LuminAID’s first utility patent as students of Columbia University. 
  • Anna and Andrea travel to village projects in India to field test initial prototypes.
  • The first version of the LuminAID light is launched on a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo and raises 500% of its initial funding goal.

MAKING AN IMPACT IN HAITI AND BEYOND

  • 1000 LuminAID solar lanterns are distributed in Haiti as part of the Give Light, Get Light program after Hurricane Isaac.
  • A second utility patent is filed for the LuminAID design (which has since been filed internationally).
  • CNN's Start Small, Think Big features LuminAID solar lanterns.
  • Chicago Booth’s Social New Venture Challenge awards first place and $25K to LuminAID’s budding start-up.

 

SCALING EFFORTS FOR DISASTER RELIEF AID

  • The LuminAID lantern is featured as one of the “Top Technology Trends 2013” on The Today Show.
  • $100K is awarded to LuminAID for the Early Stage Prize at the Clean Energy Challenge in Chicago, hosted by the Clean Energy Trust.
  • 20,000+ LuminAID lights are supplied to international NGOs including Shelterbox and Doctors Without Borders.

 

GROWING OUR TEAM

  • Employees No. 1 and 2 are welcomed to the LuminAID Team.
  • Anna and Andrea are named Toyota Mothers of Invention at the Women In the World Summit in New York.
  • The LuminAID Team celebrates the milestone of 10,000 lights donated by customers through our Give Light, Get Light program to charitable projects in more than 50 countries.

 

Mark Cuban Lights

REELING IN THE SHARK: MARK CUBAN

 

LuminAID Team 2016

EXPANDING OUR MISSION

  • Fedex recognizes LuminAID in their Small Business Grant Contest with an award of $15,000.
  • The Pitch For Good competition sponsored by Tom's and Inc. Magazine awards LuminAID a $50K grant.
  • Adventurers for Change and LuminAID partner to help distribute solar lights to families devastated by the Nepal earthquake.

 

LuminAID Team 2016

CONTINUING INOVATION

  • A Kickstarter for a dual solar phone charger + lantern in the spirit of previous LuminAID ultra-compact gear is fully funded in under 8 hours. The PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger is born. The campaign earns over $250K, nearly 4000 backers, and over 3000 solar lanterns are donated to Syrian refugees.
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