“On a mission to create healthy, fun, exciting, energetic and productive work environments by bringing sunshine into everyone’s life. We build smart, personal lighting systems that pack the colored light spectrum of a bright, sunlit sky into a fixture used as you would an ordinary desk lamp but controlled and manged by a learning mobile app that recommends the optimum amount of sun for every individual’s maximum benefit.” Code name: Sun LifeLight. We met up with Gary, CEO and Founder of the exciting venture, who tells us more about the story behind Sun LifeLight, where they are now, where they’re headed, and what they advise others looking to get their own venture out there.
StartupCatchup: Please introduce us to your venture, Gary.
Gary: Sun LifeLight is The First App Controlled Connected Light Therapy Device Designed for Today’s Work Station. We Put The Natural, Energizing and Productivity Boosting Benefits of Sunlight in the Palm of Your Hand!
The company is on a mission to bring the sun back into the lives of those that spend most of their workday indoors…delivering the natural, energizing effects of the sun while at work.
Revolutionizing light therapy by building smart, personal lamps, controlled by an interactive learning app and delivering the healthful benefits of the sun indoors…Creating fun, exciting, energetic and productive work environments no matter what the weather, location or time of day. Corporations and individuals alike, benefit by virtually transporting their workstations to sun drenched destinations!
StartupCatchup: How did you come up with the idea?
Gary: Both Alison and I are outdoor and fitness enthusiasts but find ourselves with far too little time to spend in the sun. Knowing that being indoors is becomming more the norm than the exception for the global population, we wanted to find a way to bring the benefits of the sun indoors and improve the health, wellness and productivity of computer users everywhere. Combining state-of-the-art science together with the latest lighting and software technology has enabled us to do exaclty that.
StartupCatchup: What made you actually take action and go for it?
Gary: Alison and I were eager to improve our wellbeing despite finding ourselves with less and less time to enjoy the outdoors. As we unsuccessfully tried to find a sunlight therapy device that could be used in a professional workstation environment and given Alison’s medical background along with my technology pedigree, we decided to purpose build a solution that fit elegantly and effectively in and around any workstation environment. The support we’ve received has been nothing short of amazing.
StartupCatchup: How many people are currently working on the project and who are they?
Gary: I am the CEO and Founder, and a 25 year technology veteran having led successful teams and organizations in the semiconductor, telecommunications infrastructure and green technology industries. That leadership enabled a technology sales firm I owned to grow from less than $100M to $225M in sales in 4 years.
Alison Todd LICSW/ABD Co-Founder and Product Advocate, has more than 20 years of experience as a clinical psychologist and licensed social worker treating patients whose therapeutic protocol includes light therapy.
Our talented, extended team of more than 15 individuals and organizations, includes seasoned business executives, medical industry professionals and subject matter experts in sleep, mental health and optical design that have helped to already achieve significant company milestones.
• My Point Exactly (Video Production and Sales): Keith O’Brien
• Fikst Product Development (Mechanical Engineering): Doug Sabin, Paul Sabin and Adrianne Jalbert
• Future Electronics (Electronic Components and Lighting Design): Bob Duperey, Dan Sullivan
• Design Turn (Industrial Design): Matt Kressy
• TMA (Software Application Development): Gian Le Kong, Hong Tran and the team
• Dai Ma (Electronic Assembly)
• Bluefish Digital (Marketing and Social Media Initiatives) Jeff Hodnett, Jeremy France and Lauren Toye-O’Donnell
• Aaron Spagnolo (Photography)
• Rex Trailer Studios (Video Productions) Mike Bavaro and Jillian Trailer-Rollock
• Ed Lombardo (Software Lead)
• Jeffery Wang (Hardware Lead)
• Steve Morin (Ronin Digital, Web Development)
StartupCatchup: How are you funding the project?
Gary: The project was launched with a seed investment of $100,000 in July of 2013. We are committed to build the company as lean as possible and have been able to acheive amazing results given our operational expertise on the shoestring seed investment. In less than 15 months we’ve been able to build 3 fully functioning prototypes, engage large scale multi-national enterprise clients including BAE, Barclays and Future Electronics to name a few, launch a funded evaluation of 5 production units by TJX and propose a research project with the University of New Hampshire that is currently being considered for a State and Federal research grant. Meanwhile, we continue to fundraise, using both crowdfunding and traditional institutional means, to complete our $350,000 series A which will allow us to bootstrap to profitability. We are currently a finalist in a crowdfunding campaign sponsored by STAPLES called Crowd2Shelf (https://www.fundable.com/sun-lifelight) where the top 3 candidates are sold on the shelves of STAPLES stores and online.
StartupCatchup: What are your plans for the business and what do you hope to accomplish?
Gary: The company is on a mission to bring the sun back into the lives of those that spend most of their workday indoors. By doing so, we believe that we’ll be able to have a dramatic impact on the rising incidents of type 2 diabetes, obesity and depression which many reports have linked to society’s increasingly sunlight deprived existance.
The company will maintain a direct leadership team that manages contract resources for research and development, manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing. The product roadmap includes the development of a more integrated Internet of Things solution that expands the data collected and used for a more “closed loop” system delivering a comprehensive and healthful solution to subscribers. The “sticky” subscription service creates a recurring revenue that not only builds a barrier to entry for competitors but also expands the revenue generated through the reporting on productivity improvements and the overall health and wellness improvements of the employee base for enterprise clients. Revenue projections call for $10.6M this fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, $23,9M FY16, $35.5M FY17 and $62.1M FY18.
StartupCatchup: What has been the most rewarding experience so far on the journey?
Gary: By far, the most rewarding experience has been the reception we receive when demonstrating the product and talking about the impact it can have on the health and wellness of so many computer-using office professionals, college/university students and home-based computer users. Virtually everyone “feels” better on a bright sunny day and when we explain the physiology behind that and how the LifeLight can bring many of the benefits of sunlight indoors, the response is “how can we get one?” Now that the LifeLight is available, we endeavor to “spread the word” and help as many people as possible.
StartupCatchup: What would you have done differently looking back on the journey now?
Gary: We would have gone to press earlier and increased our seed round to $150,000 enabling us to increase our marketing reach.
StartupCatchup: What would you advise others who have an idea, not knowing where to begin?
Gary: Always begin by engaging and talking with as many of the target customers as possible…take their feedback and use it in refining your idea.
StartupCatchup: Can you give us a quote that motivates and inspires you to keep going?
Gary: “Do Good, Make Good!” By focusing on making peoples’ lives better, those products and services that result usually resonate with the client base…creating more successful ventures.