100 million lives illuminated
For Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun, what began as a simple assignment in design school turned into an incredible success story in energy access. Since they started d.light in 2007, the company has impacted 100 million customers around the world. As one of d.light’s earliest investors, we’re proud to be part of their incredible journey to create a brighter future for millions of low-income families. Explore Acumen and d.light’s partnership over the last decade.//= $m_slide['cta_text']; ?>
One Great Idea
Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun first met at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in the Design for Extreme Affordability program. Along with their classmates, they designed the first-ever prototype of a simple, battery-powered LED light in a course on design-based solutions to problems of poverty.
d.light is Born
After fine-tuning their lighting prototype, Sam and Ned win a prize of $250,000 at a Draper Fisher Jurvetson business competition, which was just enough seed funding to start their clean energy startup, d.light.
To help Sam and Ned fulfill their dream of bringing their new affordable solar lighting idea to the masses, Acumen makes an early-stage investment in d.light.
The d.light team releases its first solar lantern in East Africa and India, they call it Nova. The next challenge: getting the Nova in the hands of customers. Today, The Nova has become an icon of the ever-growing solar energy revolution.
To reach low-income, off-grid households, Sam and Ned build distribution networks across South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, all while generating demand. With mobile technology penetrating these regions, almost everyone, no matter their income, had a phone. d.light’s design team went back to the drawing board, revising their Nova lantern to store enough energy to charge mobile phones.
Acumen starts placing Global Fellows with d.light, filling talent gaps over the next six years to build internal systems and market strategies for expansion to new countries.
2010 - 2014
Acumen Investment Rounds
Between 2010 to 2014, Acumen invests patient capital in four d.light investment rounds: Series B, Series B2, Series C, and Series C2.
Seasoned investor and Acumen Board Member Stuart Davidson, joins d.light’s Board as Director to help Sam and Ned navigate their early organizational challenges.
d.light launches the game-changing A1 Solar lantern during President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya. At a $5 retail price, The A1 Solar is one of the world’s most affordable high-quality solar lights.
Acumen invests patient capital in d.light’s Series D round.
KawiSafi, a for-profit energy fund launched by Acumen Capital Partners, invests in d.light, which goes on to raise follow-on investment of over $120 million in equity and debt.
Using seven Lean DataSM surveys, Acumen helped d.light tap into valuable customer feedback to give the team strategic feedback to act on, while also putting customers’ voices first.
After 10 years in business, d.light expands their team, growing sales, and builds out their product line. The company reaches 75 million lives impacted across 62 countries, with over 17 million solar lanterns sold. By 2017, the d.light brand became synonymous with solar energy in many parts of the world.
Acumen Series A Exit
Acumen partially exits d.light with the sale of its Series A shares.
100 Million Lives Illuminated
After a long resilient journey, in 2020 d.light has illuminated the lives of 100 million people with its 20 million solar light and power products sold across 70 countries. With this huge achievement, they have their sights set on even bigger goals. Acumen will be along for d.light’s next big milestone!