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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 30 May 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 MAY 2015 23 BUSINESS Steve’s bright idea Greek American inventor Steve Katsaros and his company Nokero are changing people’s lives around the world GEORGIOS HATZIMANOLIS It's not often you hear of a great new invention that will have a positive impact on the lives of billions while not harming our already damaged and extremely sensitive environment. But that's exactly what one Greek American achieved when in 2010 he came up with a bright idea - a simple, portable solar light bulb with the potential to revolutionise life for the 1.4 billion people in the world who live without access to electricity. Since then the Coloradobased Ste- ve Katsaros has been travelling the world, mostly to remote villages in Asia and Africa, to show people just how important his discovery is. As with most great inventions, Katsaros' discovery all began with a unrelenting idea. One night, while walking past a construction site, Katsaros noticed a rope of construction lights all drawing power from a chugging, polluting generator. He immediately questioned whether all this was really necessary. The next day he sat down at his work desk at home and sketched a simple but elegant solution to the problem, a solar-powered light bulb. Within days Katsaros had a patent in hand. ork desk at ho sketched a simple but solution to the proble ered light bul in days Katsaros had L.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 MAY 2015 23 BUSINESS Steve’s bright idea Greek American inventor Steve Katsaros and his company Nokero are changing people’s lives around the world GEORGIOS HATZIMANOLIS It's not often you hear of a great new invention that will have a positive impact on the lives of billions while not harming our already dam- aged and extremely sensi- tive environment. But that's exactly what one Greek American achieved when in 2010 he came up with a bright idea - a simple, portable solar light bulb with the potential to revolutionise life for the 1.4 billion people in the world who live without access to electricity. Since then the Colorado- based Ste- ve Katsaros has been trav- elling the world, mostly to remote villages in Asia and Africa, to show people just how important his discov- ery is. As with most great inven- tions, Katsaros' discovery all began with a unrelenting idea. One night, while walk- ing past a construction site, Katsaros noticed a rope of construction lights all draw- ing power from a chugging, polluting generator. He im- mediately questioned wheth- er all this was really neces- sary. The next day he sat down at his work desk at home and sketched a simple but elegant solution to the problem, a so- lar-powered light bulb. With- in days Katsaros had a patent in hand. ork desk at ho sketched a simple but solution to the proble ered light bul in days Katsaros had months months after that initial sketch, Katsaros launched Nokero, a forprofit company with a mission to provide ordableaffo solar technology solutions for poor, offgrid communities around the months after t tial sketch, Katsaros la Nokero prof pan a m to world solar nolo lutio poo grid mu arou orld. Nokero is the only brand of its kind with the usage of state-ofthe-art solar light bulbs and two mobile phone chargers currently distributed internationally Nokero only bran kind with age of s the-ar ligh and m p ch c l t in ti ver 100 countrie the globe. the globe. Ivory Coast and Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba holding a Nokero solar light bulb. The company promotes education surrounding the solar inell as the The compan motes educati rounding the s dustry el increased ben increased benefit of countries across Steve Katsaros with the patent for his light bulb invention. safe lighting, which include health, income and community. Nokero's durable, weatherproof, long lasting lights encourage productivity at all hours without the use of fires or dangerous fuels such as kerosene. Nokero, which comes from NO KEROsene, aims to be the number one leader in low-cost consumer solar products in the world. By offering these rechargeable, innovative light source products, Nokero aims to improve the lifestyles of the world's undeveloped populations. By introducing Nokero as their renewable solar resource, the quality of life can be improved as a whole. Nokero says its products al- low students to have longer amounts of time to study, people can work longer hours in the day (and night) and money can be saved on current lighting equipment that requires maintenance, and/ or third party energy sources, such as electricity, oil or batteries. The company says that by removing current light sources such as kerosene, along with other harmful, expensive techniques, they can produce a world that promotes safety, an environmentally-friendly environment, and the ability to live life in a new hope. "Selling solar lights is how we're going to change the world," says Katsaros, who founded Nokero to market his invention. He says that it quickly became apparent that the need for accessible solar lighting was not at construction sites in the developed world, but rather in the homes of the 1.4 billion people that live in energy poverty, without access to electric lighting. Katsaros says Nokero sells several models of its solar bulbs to countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, India and Pakistan, where the most accessible form of lighting is often kerosene lamps that pollute the body with known carcinogens. Katsaros' life has been filled with innovation from a young age. He began his career in his late teens with the invention of several commercial products for the ski industry. His first brush with impact inventing came in 2002 with RevoPower, a motorised wheel for bicycles. The innovation and entrepreneurship skills that helped Katsaros grow his fledgling company were developed further during his time at the Purdue School of Mechanical Engineering in the state of Indiana, where Katsaros says he encountered professors who embraced what he was doing. One such professor, Dr Alan McDonald, was crucial to guiding Katsaros' studies. Under McDonald's tutelage, Katsaros entered one of his inventions into the then-relatively new Collegiate Inventors Competition (CIC). Katsaros and his roommate were just crammed into a small dorm room, and Katsaros was concerned about leaving his bicycle outside in the harsh Indiana winter. So he designed a bicycle overhead storage rack which he entered into the CIC and won in 1995. Although that invention didn't generate much money for Katsaros, his experience with and exposure to Invent Now, the organisation that runs the Collegiate Inventors Competition as well as the National Inventors Hall of Fame, left an impression. Katsaros says that competition and the relationship with the CIC helped him a great deal. It was through them that he learned the fundamentals of marketing, finance, design and execution. Although Katsaros had of- fers from companies such as aviation giant Boeing right out of school, he felt the knowledge he had gained would help him and he believed he was going to strike out and do his own thing. His invention, the solar- powered light bulb and the company Nokero have quickly become a success, vindicating Katsaros' belief in himself. Apart from being a quick thinker and great inventor, Katsaros is also someone with a strong desire to help those less fortunate. Both he and his company have been acknowledged by the United Nations and other leading organisations for their contribution to the poor and remote communities of the world. Most recently, Nokero quickly shipped all its existing inventory of solar lights to Nepal following the tragic earthquake that struck the country and Katsaros, and his company continues to seek new ways to help the tens of thousands of Nepalese are living without electricity and safe lighting.
23 May 2015
6 June 2015