In November 2012, GravityLight had a working prototype and a refined CAD design. The next step was to prove the concept and find out how GravityLight actually performed in the environments it would be used in. Funding was needed to support the tooling, manufacture and distribution of 1000 gravity powered lights. The plan was to gift the lights to off-grid families in Africa and Asia and to gather feedback on their experience, opinions and suggestions for improvement. These insights would then be used to develop an improved model, for large scale production.
Setting a modest target of $55,000, which would support some of these costs, they launched their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The response was incredible. Within 4 days the target was hit, and by the end of the 30 day campaign over 6219 generous supporters had raised $399,590. Tweets from Bill Gates, Evan Davis and coverage in Fast Company and The Guardian to name a few, certainly helped.
Hundreds of people got in touch after our crowdfunding campaign, keen to be involved in co-ordinating field trials. From these generous offers of support, we selected trial ‘facilitators’ with in-depth knowledge of the communities they would be testing GravityLight with as well as the language skills, experience, time and commitment to running a trial with several repeat visits.
The objectives of the trial were:
We worked with organisations and individuals across 26 different countries, a breadth that would give us insights into a range of communities and climates. The trial ‘facilitators’ had already identified communities and households that were willing to test GravityLight and, where necessary, ensured they had people fluent in the local dialect to conduct product demonstrations and gather feedback.