RY Outfitters

The RY Outfitters Podcast EP: #31 Luminaid – Compactable Solar Lanterns. Co-founder Andrea Sreshta Sharing Her Story

luminAID logo


Looking for a compactable light source to illuminate your adventures?

Pick up a LuminAID lantern and always keep a light source handy!

To find out more behind how LuminAID got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews LuminAID co-founder, Andrea Sreshta.

More about the episode…

Josh sits down with LuminAID co-founder Andrea Sreshta. LuminAID is a compactable, inflatable, box shaped lantern that was created by…well…thinking outside the box. Founded in 2011 After the Haiti Earthquake, design students Anna and Andrea came up with an idea for an inflatable solar light that packs flat. Now LuminAID is a go to option for NGO’s to help aid in disaster relief. Safe, sustainable, and portable, the LuminAID light provides up to 50 hours of LED light, ideal for emergency situations, recreational use outdoors, or in the home as an extra light source.

Have an opinion? We want to hear it! Join the conversation and leave a comment, check out show notes, and get all the links mentioned in this episode below


Show Notes

  • How did you and your partner, Anna Stork, come up with the idea for LuminAID?
    • “It was way back in 2010 just after the earthquake in Haiti…We were watching all this unfold on the news and we were wondering how as designers, we could contribute something to help people who were victims of disasters like that…”
  • How did you get into this industry?
    • “My business partner, Anna is the engineer…she had studied engineering in her undergrad and then went straight through into architecture school…I had been working in architecture and then went back for my masters, and that’s how we met”
  • What was it like building LuminAID while you were still in school?
    • “One of the really nice things about working in architecture school is I didn’t have a lot of boundaries when it came to what you do next if you have ideas…It seems everybody in architecture school had a side gig…”
  • What was the development process like for making LuminAID?
    • “We’ve committed to a lot of continuous improvements, to our lights and just making them higher performance through time…We get a lot of really great feedback…”
  • What is something unique about you or LuminAID that makes you stand out?
    • “We have two founders of the business that are also the inventors of the technology, which I’m learning is not that common with a lot of technology based businesses…Anna and I are in the driver seat when it comes to new product development as well as everything else that comes from the business…”

LuminAID founders

  • What was it like to be on Shark Tank and get offers from each Shark?
    • “We were fans of the show initially and that’s why we decided to apply…once we found out we were gonna be on, we practiced a lot… On the day of it just seemed like question and answer time…
  • What’s it like working with Mark Cuban?
    • “He’s really responsive in a way that you wouldn’t expect because he’s so busy…It’s kind of like having some extra help on the team in a big way…”
  • Have you had any other mentors along the way to building LuminAID?
    • “Lot’s of different mentors in all kinds of forms…We’ve gotten really lucky with all the relationships we’ve had over the years…So much of it boils down to teamwork too and we run a very flat team…”
  • What is your philosophy on given back and sustainability?
    • “It’s always been a big part of our mission and business model to commit to helping people with our lights and products after disasters, emergencies, and even with people who are living where they don’t receive electricity…Shelterbox is a really great example of the real hard workers in being the front lines on the ground…We’re just kind of an accessory to them and it’s really humbling to be apart of it…”
  • How long do your lanterns last?
    • “We have different models at different performance specs now. The one that’s most commonly used for humanitarian aid lasts up to 30 hours on the lowest setting…Now we have an even bigger higher performance lantern that lasts up to 50 hours on the lowest setting…”
  • What is the culture like within LuminAID?
    • “Culture for a small business is a funny thing because you feel like you never have anytime to think about it…I do think it is very flat and all about teamwork. In a lot of cases with a couple exceptions, Luminaid is all of our first jobs…”
  • What has been one of the hardest parts about starting LuminAID?
    • “When Anna and I started we didn’t have a grand plan for the business…it was more that we had a lot of ideas for this product and gained some early traction with it…I think it took some time to adjust to the different phases that building a company entails…”
  • What is your greatest fear with LuminAID?
    • “I would never want to put us out of business…Even that it’s a fear that a lot of business owners have, it’s nothing that really happens overnight…”

  • What would you say is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made with LuminAID?
    • Andrea describes how she feels her and her team could have been quicker to react to feedback from some of the original designs of their lanterns
  • What has the growth been like from where you started in 2010 to where you are now?
    • “In addition to things like Shark Tank, we can tie a lot of growth, unfortunately to things like disasters…All of a sudden we were a two person company and having to supply lights to these NGO’s…”
  • What advice would you give to someone that wanted to start a business?
    • “Just put one foot in front of the other and take things one at a time…”
  • How did you develop your manufacturing process?
    • “We make our products in asia, as of now…the primary reason for that is a lot of the components that are involved in our lights aren’t available elsewhere…”
  • How do you guys split up your roles as co-founders?
    • “Anna has a background in engineering. We both are designers so in terms of the design aspects we collaborate on that front and she manages all of the manufacturing and product development…All of the boring things I do; finances, paying the bills, and managing the team”
  • Where do you see LuminAID headed into the future?
    • “We just came out with this lanter that also charges phones it’s called Packlight Max USB charger…it feels like we finally have developed something that will give our customers something additional that we heard will be useful…that is what I think we’re hoping to do, we want to make sure we’re developing the most innovative and useful products”
  • What was it like to run your crowdfunding campaign?
    • “In the original case it was different because customer number one came from our crowd funding. We were really lucky because our press release about the product got picked up by a lot of blogs…”
  • What is the best part about running LuminAID?
    • “Everyday there’s something new that you haven’t confronted before and that’s very exciting…”


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