Nokero, a Colorado company that manufactures solar-powered light bulbs, is transitioning from a startup into a progressive and aggressive business.
Earlier this week, the company announced the release of two new products. The N180-Start, the most affordable and efficient solar bulb on the market, and the N22, one of the most technologically advanced affordable off-grid solutions for light and cell phone charging.
Nokero founder and owner Steve Kastaros said he plans to step aside as the company’s CEO in January.
“I’m the entrepreneur. We’re bringing in someone who has that builder CEO personality,” Kastaros stated. “We’re pivoting away from that small scrappy startup mentality of doing anything for anyone whenever they want.”
The company’s focus is on the developing world. When Kastaros first created his solar-powered light bulbs, he imagined Americans buying them for camping and outdoor light. But he quickly realized that international markets where only one in five people have reliable electricity would be the best audience for his product.
The latest iteration of the solar-powered light bulbs was specifically designed and engineered to help poverty-stricken families transition from expensive, dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps.
Nokero is able to wholesale the N180-Start for about $3. The lightbulb retails for $5 to $6. At that price, people living on $5 a day in the poorest parts of the world can recover the cost of the bulb by not buying kerosene within a few weeks.
Now that the business has been around for three years and developed relationships with distributors in emerging markets, Kastaros said he has a better feel for who his customers are and what they really need.
The N222 is designed for urban dwellers. It can connect to the grid, so people living in an apartment in Mumbai can have an electric light and a place to charge their cell phones without having to take it outside and risk theft. Unfortunately, power is unreliable in a lot of urban centers in places like India. So, when the power fails, N222 owners can charge them in the sun and still have access to light and phone charging.
Even before the launch of the new products, Nokero was seeing significant market growth, especially in the developing world. The company just got its biggest order – 275,000 pieces – which must be delivered by December to a distributor that sells the bulbs.
With the new product designed specifically to meet the needs of the emerging market, where Nokero’s solar bulbs are most useful, the company is poised for even bigger growth.