Start-up aims to reinvent the kerosene lamp

D.light Design, started out of a Stanford student project, aims to bring a safer, cheaper form of energy to families living in emerging nations without access to electricity.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--When starting a business, it's important to create a product that solves a problem. A small start-up is tackling a big dilemma: 2 billion people in the world don't have access to electricity.

Here at Launch: Silicon Valley at the Microsoft campus, 30 start-ups are pitching social-media products or software as a service. D.light Design is thinking a bit more globally.

Erica Ogg/CNET

D.light Design was born out of a Stanford University class project, and it currently has five employees. Chief Executive Sam Goldman spent four years in the Peace Corps in West Africa, where he says he lived with a family that used kerosene lamps to light its home after sundown. Goldman discovered firsthand that not only are the lamps dangerous--one of the children was permanently disfigured in a kerosene fire--they're an investment, requiring up to 30 percent of the family's income.

The result of Goldman's experience is the Forever-Bright, a prototype light-emitting diode (LED)-based device that he showed off to investors and media at SVASE.

The product is a small, white box that doubles as a light and power source. D.light says the final product will last five years and is chargeable off any power source, including solar power, 110- or 220-volt grids, and diesel generators. There will be power jacks in the back for powering other devices, such as cell phones. The Forever-Bright will launch in parts of India and Pakistan next month, Goldman said.

Tech Culture
About the author

Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.


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