In 2012 John Salzinger connected with principal inventor Jason Alan Snyder on a business vision. They talked about changing the world, got to work, and Luci® was born. The rest is history… but here’s the story. Dubbed the first inflatable solar light, the goal was to create an affordable clean energy product that could be used in any situation — from outdoor camping adventures to backyard parties to everyday living for people in emerging markets without electricity.
Flawless.Fab Founder, Jeremy Davis, recently had the opportunity to meet with John Salzinger, Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer of this amazing Brooklyn-based brand, and the interaction and subsequent interview inspired us to showcase this respected #flawessfabbrand as a socially conscious model business for us all to aspire to.
The first time I went to Haiti was after the earthquake and I realized that the inequities around the starting point for each of us is glaring and immoral to ignore.John Salzinger
Here’s the thing-
People all over the world find comfort and joy in Luci®. It taps into a source of light that’s limitless… the sun, and readily available to everyone regardless of race, creed, culture, or industry.This means that anyone who needs a little light to pursue their dreams can have access to a resource which will allow them to do just that.
From the little boy writing poetry in the mountains of Kathmandu, to the woman in the South America village sewing skirts for local schoolgirls, or the artist in Cuba sculpturing, they can see to work!. For us, this is inspiring.
Get to know Luci®Below is our transcribed conversation.
What has inspired you to bring such light to the world?
(Both ways!)A progressive upbringing by my mother and father and a sense of responsibility that was instilled in me for both people and planet. They had meaning in their work and instilled the idea that both personal responsibility and personal fulfillment could coexist and bring meaning and happiness while helping others. A perfect trifecta of sorts!
We have a team of people here at MPOWERD® that all believe in the mission and are fulfilled by the work we do no matter how hard it gets. Our CEO and my partner Seungah Jeong literally rose out of the exact type of poverty that we look to provide a lifeline to. Inspiration continues every day through each of us in our offices as well as our vendors, stakeholders, investors, customers, retail buyers, distributors, nonprofits and NGOs, and the global community we are creating.
We see you’ve done a bit of traveling – what was your favorite/most impactful trip or experience? Why?
If you are open and aware every time you walk out of your door you can and should see things that will impact you. Whether you see a person who is in need of shelter or food or an environmental concern like a water pipe dumping toxic liquids into a nearby stream, problems in need of solutions are everywhere.
The first time I went to Haiti was after the earthquake and I realized that the inequities around the starting point for each of us is glaring and immoral to ignore. My first trip to China was one where, environmentally, it was startling to see rivers that were red and clear skies that were brown. It is important to travel to open your mind if you have the means to do so, but what is of the upmost urgency is to simply open your eyes and your mind and see the challenges around us. The obvious next step is to think through how you can participate in resolving them.
From what we know about creative entrepreneurs, it takes a special soul to put passion and people above profit… What inspires you to also take this approach?
I think empathy plays a major role in this. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is an important quality. That said, you do not have to choose between passion and profit. If you can identify a problem and then a solution you should be able to market this in a sustainable fashion that will actually resolve the challenges while ensuring everyone is properly incentivized along the supply chain.
Ultimately, what growth plans do you have for MPOWERD?
Simply put, growth. Our unique scaled model is such that the more products we sell overall in the developed world, the greater our ability to reduce pricing to those that need the same products in emerging markets and aid situations. This year we are coming out with 7 new products alone! We have incredible retail partners that add to our scale like REI and Best Buy as well as thousands of others globally. Consumers buy our micro solar powered products for their own use and MPOWERD does the rest, deploying these same clean technologies through a network of over 500 NGOs and nonprofits.
Talk to us about Luci® Light and how it helps people worldwide.
Approximately 1.5 billion people globally have no access to the grid and around another 1.5 billion have intermittent or unreliable access at best. The false choice then becomes harmful, dangerous and dirty forms of energy like kerosene or simply no light at all. Our Luci lights replace these antiquated energy sources with a clean, affordable, functioning and innovative product that literally changes a life at first touch. Light is a capacity builder and enables education, safety, health and economic empowerment.
Sometimes it just takes a spark, literally to inspire people to do great things, have you heard any success stories from the destinations where Luci does the most good?
Nearly every day! We have stories from the developed world where a boater was having heart problems and was only found by the US Coast Guard because he was able to flash his light and it literally saved his life. We received a notice just the other day where 2 Luci Lights allowed a group to save 40 people out of the river that was flooding in Kenya at night. I could go on all day. This is what motivates all of us.
After all is said and done, what do you want to be remembered for? And by extension, what do you want the people to say about the work you’ve done at MPOWERD?
I think, first and foremost, it is not about me. My reputation is only as important as it allows me to leverage relationships and build the business model. I think we are looking to, as a company, allow people to participate in solving global problems through building community and sharing responsibility.
To date, MPOWERD has impacted 3 million lives and 450,000 US tons of CO2 have been averted through the deployment of our lights through over 500 nonprofits. If our company does well, others will emulate and invest in emerging markets and start their own problem-solving, solution oriented companies. I think, today, more than ever, private sector responsibility is paramount to the future of people and planet.