According to a report in Forbes India, D.Light has been featured as one among the 5 hot startups to watch. According to the article, next year could be an inflection point for Kiran – the kerosene killer. D.Light, the company that makes these solar power lanterns, has just reorganised its supply chain in anticipation of a scale-up. “We moved the entire design operation to Hong Kong from India and we now have a manufacturing facility in Shenzen, China,” says Sam Goldman, co-founder, D.Light Design.
D.Light’s list of investors is long and strong — Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Acumen, Omidyar Network, Nexus and Garage Technology Ventures. Goldman says D.Light’s sales are “not more than $10 million”. The plan is for next year sales to be “more than $20 million”. “We have just reached around 300,000 households. Our target market is more than 400 million,” he says.
As regular readers of Panchabuta might know, we believe that the offgrid solar potential is far higher than the utility-scale grid connected solar that garners a lot of attention in the media because of the size and scale of the individual projects.
Panchabuta believes that, d.light might have just hit that inflection point that Forbes India talks about, when they hit their second million lives impacted in less than 8 months. With the above mentioned manufacturing capability expansions, it looks like they are really poised for take off in a market that seems to be heating up with new solar lighting solution providers entering into the space. Recent announcements have come from companies like MIC Electronics and newer companies like Simpa Networks are coming up with more innovative models.
This is definitely becoming a space to watch out for given its impact at the bottom of the pyramid and the willingness of the consumers to buy the solution at current market prices without subsidies. This is because, the return on investment for a solar lamp typically varies between 6 months to 12 months depending on the usage, cost of solar lamp and cost of kerosene/candle.
This has led to solar lamps being used not only in remote rural India, but also in urban markets, street side vendors and semi-urban businesses instead of the traditional petromax lights.