By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
Chamy Lutz does not believe in the impossible.
Lutz was told by three different manufacturers that it would be impossible to build the emergency light bulb she designed for home use. She knew there was a way to turn her innovative idea into a retail product. Rather than listening to the naysayers who said her lightbulb could not be built, Lutz continued to work on the design of the lightbulb until she found a manufacturer willing to produce the product.
The result of this perseverance is Safelumin, a patented LED light bulb designed for home use that doubles as emergency lighting in the event of a power outage.
The idea for the innovative new product came to the Taiwanese CEO while she was working on an emergency lighting product for commercial use. The lighting solutions for power outages in the home have always been candles, flashlights, or noisy, cost-prohibitive power generators. Many commercial buildings have battery-based backup lighting that keeps rooms safely lit without electricity. She wondered why there were no compatible products for the residential market.
Lutz saw an opportunity to create a safe solution for in-home use.
She envisioned an LED light bulb that fit everywhere a standard lightbulb fits, with the added feature of a battery backup built into the lightbulb, so it could be powered without electricity. She began to draft designs of the lightbulb.
With a background in project management, Lutz describes herself as “half engineer.” She has spent her career in technical-focused businesses and worked alongside engineers during her two decades in manufacturing. During that time, she earned her MBA from Concordia University.
Lutz’s perseverance has paid off. After years of product development and an expensive and time-consuming process to get her product patented, the unique lightbulbs entered the market in 2018. The bulbs offer three hours of light without electricity and have custom-designed, rechargeable batteries that will hold a charge for ten years. Before long, orders for the bulbs came in from all over the world.
Lutz launched a second multi-voltage and brighter version of her lightbulb in December 2021 with much difficulty. Pandemic-related supply chain issues made it difficult to get the semiconductors she chose for the new version of the bulb. With some components of the bulb taking up to six months to receive, the creation of the new bulbs was slow going. Adding to the problem, when the Chinese-manufactured bulbs finally arrived in the Los Angeles port, there were not enough workers to unload the ships, so the cargo remained onboard, waiting for access to the dock. The extended time in the port caused an additional two-month delay in the shipment of the bulbs.
Once the bulbs arrive in Wisconsin, they are distributed by the Waukesha County based company. As the demand for Safelumin grows, the company hopes to partner with a distributor to increase sales and streamline the shipping process.
Safelumin light bulbs have been on the market for nearly four years. The product has performed well in the field and the experience confirms the longevity and durability of the lightbulbs. The sales are strong, but not as strong as Lutz would like them.
In 2016, Safelumin received small venture capital investment from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Qualified New Venture Business Program. Lutz is interested in capital to scale the business but has decided to wait until her sales figures are more robust before she begins the process of fundraising. She acknowledges the frustration of needing capital to increase her market, but not being able to access capital without a larger market share.
Whatever obstacles may come, the Chamy Lutz is in it for the long haul. “My dream is for every home to have at least one Safelumin light bulb,” she said.
To follow the determined CEO on the journey to making this dream a reality, connect with the company here.