d.light design is a for-profit social enterprise whose purpose is to create new freedoms for customers without access to reliable power so they can enjoy a brighter future. The company designs, manufactures, and distributes solar light and power products throughout the developing world.
When the d.light co-founders were first starting out as a student team at Stanford University, they needed a funding strategy to support the continued development of their product concept. They raised their first $10,000 from small donors, principally family, friends, and a church cofounder Ned Tozun was attending. Cofounder Sam Goldman and Tozun also secured some financial support from Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and the GSB’s Public Management Program. These funds financed plane tickets for a return trip to Myanmar, additional field research, and further prototyping. However, it did not take long for d.light to require substantially more funding in order to grow. This mini-case study explores how the team tackled its early fund raising challenge.
This story is part of the of Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Ned Tozun, Sam Goldman, and Erica Estrada of d.light for their participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.