Global environmental challenges
Startup sees big business in replacing kerosene
About 1.6 billion people still rely on kerosene lanterns to read, work or study after dark, according to a fledgling company that hopes its LED lights will replace those lanterns, eliminating both pollution and fires.
d.light design, the brainchild of Stanford Business School graduates Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun, last month began selling its lights in India, where they say 72 million households use kerosene lanterns.
The company’s products, some of which are charged by sunlight, range between $10 and $30, d.light President Tozun said in a recent interview. The Chinese-made lights all burn brighter than kerosene, and are safer and cleaner, he said.
The problem? Most of the people who use kerosene lanterns earn less than $1 a day, making one of d.light design’s products a seriously big ticket item.
”It would be like me buying a car or something,” Tozun said. “It’s a substantial investment for people to make.”
Nevertheless, d.light is betting that people will indeed save up to make that investment, especially with kerosene prices on the rise.
He declined to specify how many lights d.light would have to sell to become profitable, except to say: “Thousands is not going to cut it. It has to be millions of lights.”