A $25 Solar Lamp for Millions in India
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
One of the partners, Matthew Scott, led the design and development of a solar-powered lamp when he was a student at the Stanford Business School in 2003. The lamp is based on light-emitting diode (LED) technology, which uses much less electricity than incandescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes.
Scott initially intended for the lamps to be used in commercial buildings or aircraft. Then he read “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” and shifted his approach. The book by C.K. Prahalad describes the commercial opportunities offered by the 2.5 billion people in the world who live on less than $2.50 per day. Scott wanted to reach some of them with his lamp.
That’s when another partner, his old Stanford friend Amit Chugh, came into the picture. Scott asked Chugh, who had business-management experience, to help him redesign the lamp for the poor in Chugh’s home country, India, where millions of people rely on hazardous, polluting kerosene lanterns for light. Scott and Chugh formed a joint venture, Cosmos Ignite Innovations, with offices in the Silicon Valley in California and New Delhi. Scott secured financial backing from a veteran venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, and Chugh went to local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in India to test the lamp.