Chief Executive Officer & Co-founder, MPOWERD
It’s more than just a light, when people living in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia get Luci, it literally changes their lives in meaningful ways.
For back-to-the-landers and environmentalists, living “off the grid” is a philosophical choice to disconnect from traditional and dirty sources of electricity, such as coal or oil. But for the 1.5 billion who live in energy poverty, being off the grid means darkness, danger, inconvenience, and despair. These people make $2-3 dollars per day and spend roughly half that just for kerosene to power their lamps and stoves. It’s a crippling expense, in more ways than one. Kerosene is notorious for causing fires and health problems, and its high price precludes poor people from spending their money on other things, like food, health care, and education.
Jacques-Philippe Piverger T’07 has a one-word solution to this problem: Luci. It’s a low-cost, inflatable solarpowered lantern made by MPOWERD, the company he co-founded in 2012 with the mission to “eradicate energy poverty through solar justice.” The elegant, innovative LED light is waterproof and weighs just four ounces. It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery and can illuminate 10 square feet for six to 12 hours, depending on the setting. Luci also, according to Piverger, has a personality. “It’s more than just a light,” he says. “When people living in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia get Luci, it literally changes their lives in meaningful ways.”
Making an impact in the developing world is not a stretch for Piverger, who has spent most of his summers visiting relatives in Haiti. That Piverger chose to make his impact through a startup is also not a surprise. At Tuck, he was a research fellow at the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship, where he studied developed-market distressed investing and private equity opportunities in South Africa. After Tuck, Piverger worked for AIG Asset Management and PineBridge Investments while simultaneously founding two nonprofits. Piverger has intertwined that background by registering MPOWERD as a benefit corporation, a new type of entity that can have a double bottom line—making a profit and serving a societal mission. “One doesn’t have to get in the way of the other; they complement each other,” he says.
MPOWERD has already produced and distributed more than 200,000 Luci lanterns in 50 countries, through wholesalers and non-governmental organizations. The light has also proven popular in the U.S., where people buy it for outdoor activities, in-home lighting, and for emergency preparedness. The company conducted a “Give Luci” campaign during the 2013 Christmas shopping season, where purchasers could choose to buy another Luci for someone in need. The campaign provided 1,800 lights to communities in Africa, the Amazon, and the Philippines, as well as to girls in a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya. “It’s really exciting to know we’re working on something that makes sense business-wise, but also has a tangible impact on people and families,” Piverger says.
At Wayfair, Tuck alumna Laura Scott completely transformed the company’s operations. Now she’s dipping her toes into the startup world with Takeoff Tech.Read More
With Everly, Juliet Horton T’14 is changing how couples plan their weddingRead More
How to Make a Successful Startup Pitch
In her seven years as a venture partner at LaunchCapital in Cambridge, Mass., Heather Onstott T’07 has heard about 1,000 pitches from startups.Read More
Susan Hunt Stevens
In 2006 Susan Hunt Stevens T'98 started a blog as a "a guide to going green without going berserk." Years later the idea evolved into WeSpire, a platform that uses technology and social media to promote sustainable living.Read More
CEO of Lixil Corporation Kinya Seto T'96 is leveraging his entrepreneurial smarts to tackle the global sanitation crisis.Read More
With PK Coffee in Stowe, Vermont, Katrina Veerman T’01 turned a passion into a livelihood.Read More
Andrew Smith T'07 chose Tuck first because he was looking for a beautiful environment where he could spend time thinking about how to maximize his impact on big challenges in the world.Read More
Poshmark co-founder Tracy Sun T’05 turned her love of fashion and psychology into a leading mobile commerce app. Shopping will never be the same.Read More
Gibson “Gib” Biddle
NerdWallet's Gib Biddle T'91 came to Tuck as a marketer, but then realized he was more of a builder.Read More
Former investment banker Rohit Dugar T'07 is transforming his beer-brewing hobby into Hong Kong's first craft brewery—and using his Tuck experience to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.Read More
For Jack O’Toole T’14, “building” and “contributing” are words to live by. As a Marine, he did both.Read More
Investor. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. Roger McNamee T’82 is all of these and more in a career that has taken him to the top of the tech world.Read More
After graduating from Tuck, Barry Hume T'95 joined PepsiCo’s Boston-area operations as finance director—a position that quickly provided the opportunity for advancement, but with a difficult choice to make.Read More
What's for dinner? Pantry, a new food retailer founded by Dennis Lasko T’08, has the answer.Read More
T’87 Jeff Coleman’s quest for better nutrition led him to a new, whole-food fuel for athletes and a surprising second act.Read More
PureLiving China founder and CEO Louie Cheng T'03 is helping to improve indoor air quality in a country known for its pollution problems.Read More