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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.

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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.