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October 09, 2009

Profie of D.light Design

The Mint has a profile of VC-backed D.light Design which markets solar lanterns and other energy-efficient products in India and other developing countries.
Pursuing an MBA at Stanford University, US (2005-07), Goldman took a course in “entrepreneurial design for extreme affordability” at the university’s new design school. As part of a team of five students, he came up with a rough prototype for a solar-powered LED lantern. The big boost came when they won the prestigious Venture Challenge contest for the best business idea and received funding of $250,000 (Rs1.25 crore now) in 2007. Turning down attractive job offers, Goldman, his partner Ned Tozun and three others set up D.light Design, based out of a garage in Palo Alto, California.

Soon, Goldman was coming to India every four months, travelling to villages in eastern Uttar Pradesh. In January 2008, D.light decided to shift its headquarters to India. Their reason—it is a huge and complex market that is evolving rapidly. “It was time to get out of the bubble and get into the reality of UP, Bihar and India,” he says.

Currently, D.light has two products in the market—Nova, a durable solar house light that also has a charger for mobile phones; and Solata, a solar study light. Four months into his Indian stint, Goldman realized, “India is not a market—it is a dozen markets.”

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at arun@ventureintelligence.in