Hi, I'm Jarrod Whaley. I work at Makers4Good, a small nonprofit startup in Silicon Valley that is developing HELIO, a solar light and powerbank. We give all of our profits to charities. Ask me anything!

Nov 9, 2017

HELIO is a solar-powered flashlight, lantern, and powerbank designed for use on outdoor adventures, during emergency situations, and by people around the world who need access to safe light and power.

One of the things that sets HELIO apart is that we are donating all of its profits to nonprofit organizations who work in the field to bring light where it is most needed. Our nonprofit partners help communities in remote and/or economically developing parts of the world, bringing lights and opportunity to individuals and families who currently must rely upon dirty energy sources like kerosene for access to basic lighting. HELIO is great for camping, hiking, and other adventures, and it's also great in cases where access to light is critical: emergencies, natural disasters, and other such events.

HELIO was recently on Kickstarter, where it raised over $120,000 from nearly 1,600 backers. It is now available for pre-order on Indiegogo; orders will begin shipping in January of 2018. You can find us now and in the future at helio.energy.

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Do you sell this internationally?

Dec 3, 1:36AM EST0

How do you survive after you give away all your profits.

Nov 29, 12:56PM EST0

Is Helio also waterproof?

Nov 22, 10:57AM EST0

what inspires you the most ?

Nov 10, 7:16PM EST0

I like to think about all the little ways in whcih a product like HELIO can impact people's lives. The impact may be fairly small on an individual level, but on aggregate those little impacts build up into something a lot greater. Bringing a physical product into the world is hard, and it's a lot of work—but it's worth it when you think about all those little moments that were made a bit better by your work.

Nov 10, 7:40PM EST0

This is great for outdoor trekking. How many hours would it last?

Nov 9, 5:53PM EST0

On any of the "high" settings (for flashlight, lantern, or red lantern modes), you can expect 15 consecutive hours of light on a single charge. In the "medium" settings, the light will last 120 hours. In the "low," settings, you'll get 700 hours (nearly a month) of continuous light.

Nov 9, 6:20PM EST0
Show all 4 replies

How did you come up with this brilliant idea?

Nov 9, 12:44PM EST0

I am replying here with the same answer I provided to another participant. The info applies, but I wanted to make sure you saw the response:

It started because we wanted a light like this for ourselves, for use on camping trips and the like. Then we realized that a solar light could be of incredible benefit in areas where there is no power grid, for whatever reason. From there it was a fairly easy progression toward the idea that sales of HELIO would be used to help people in need of light.

Nov 9, 3:33PM EST0

What are other effective platforms for launching campaigns aside from crowdfunding sites?

Nov 9, 9:10AM EST0

I suppose you could build your own cordfunding setup on a site you control, but you'd be missing out on the existing communities available on Kickstarter or the other sites.

Nov 9, 3:34PM EST0

What is your goal for charities?

Nov 9, 4:03AM EST0

Our goal is to help as many people as we possibly can, whether we are doing so by donating lights, expertise, time, or funding.

Nov 9, 3:29PM EST0

Where did you find out about the concept of crowdfunding?

Nov 8, 11:06AM EST0

I personally learned about it in around 2008 when I was working on a feature film, and was interested in finding new ways of funding projects of that sort. It has been interesting to see how crowdfunding has morphed from funding artistic projects into funding all sorts of other projects as well.

Nov 8, 3:01PM EST0

Can you share some strategies in boosting the appeal of a crowdfunding campaign?

Nov 8, 3:33AM EST0

In a lot of cases, a great product is enough, but there is a lot of additional consumer appeal that can be unlocked if you add a little something extra. With HELIO, we wanted to provide backers with a great product, but we also wanted to provide added value in the form of supporting great work done by nonprofits around the world. Every project is different, and maybe a giving angle doesn't work in all cases—but I think there is something to be said for finding some kind of additional "hook" on top of an already great offering.

Nov 8, 3:04PM EST0

How long do you think it would take for this crowdfunding campaign to attain the goals you have?

Nov 7, 8:29PM EST0

Our campaign reached ints funding goal in the first day. :-) Beyond that, our goal was to reach as many individual people as possible, and that's sort of an open-ended goal that will take years to accomplish.

Nov 8, 3:07PM EST0

What is the buyer/consumer psychology in relation to your idea?

Nov 7, 3:36PM EST0

We think our buyers will look at HELIO and think it's a great product for use on outdoor adventures, or during emergency situations. We think, further, that our mission of giving all of our profits to charity will strike a chord, and that the combined value of these two ideas will make HELIO attractive to buyers.

Nov 8, 3:09PM EST0

What advice would you give to anyone else looking to create their first crowdfunding project?

Nov 7, 3:23PM EST0

Just dive in and get started! Do lots of reaserch and planning, og course, but there is no substitute for just taking the plunge.

Nov 8, 3:09PM EST0

Have you done other crowdfunding campaigns before?

Nov 7, 3:12PM EST0

Yes, HELIO was our sixth (successful!) campaign.

Nov 7, 3:13PM EST0

What are your back-up plans if your crowdfunding campaign fails?

Nov 7, 3:07PM EST0

Our campaign has already succeeded, so I suppose we don't need a backup plan. :-) That being said, if our campaign had failed, we simply would have tried again, after thinking about how we might be able to improve our approach. There is no rule against trying more than once.

Nov 7, 3:13PM EST0

Could you team up with companies who are in the same field or similar in order to offer incentives or rewards to users?

Nov 7, 11:34AM EST0

I'd certainly be open to discussing any and all ideas that might help us make HELIO even more attractive to users. If anyone reading this has ideas of this sort, drop us a line!

Nov 7, 2:59PM EST0

Do you think that maybe your idea is just missing a bit of the fun factor?

Nov 7, 10:53AM EST0

I don't think so at all. :-) HELIO is great for everyday use, and it's also great for people who need light due to emergencies or other issues. Each one you buy helps other people. What's not fun about that?

Nov 7, 3:00PM EST0

Do you work alone or with a team?

Nov 7, 9:31AM EST0

We are a small team of engineers, designers, and product-focused managers. It's probably impossible to build and ship a consumer product all by one's self.

Nov 7, 3:01PM EST0

How did you come up with this idea?

Nov 7, 8:45AM EST0

It started because we wanted a light like this for ourselves, for use on camping trips and the like. Then we realized that a solar light could be of incredible benefit in areas where there is no power grid, for whatever reason. From there it was a fairly easy progression toward the idea that sales of HELIO would be used to help people in need of light.

Nov 7, 3:03PM EST0

How often do crowdfunding campaigns get successful than not?

Nov 7, 8:29AM EST0

According to this data from Statista, only about 36% of Kickstarter campaigns end in success. Crowdfunding isn't impossible, but it does take a lot of work and a lot of luck.

Nov 7, 3:05PM EST0

Can you give some advice to people interested in launching their own crowdfunding campaigns?

Nov 7, 5:24AM EST0

My advice to anyone who wants to do anything is just to do it. Do some research, give everything a lot of thought, and then just dive in. You'll never get to your destination if you never get in the car and start driving. :-)

Nov 7, 3:07PM EST0

What's with crowdfunding that made you choose it as a platform to promote your cause?

Nov 7, 5:21AM EST0

Crowdfunding is about more than raising funds—it's also a great way to build buzz and a community around your idea. It's kind of a head-start, marketing-wise, in that you can begin to build a following well before your project is completed.

Nov 7, 3:08PM EST0

Have you attended any well-known events that could help you gain exposure for your crowdfunding sites?

Nov 7, 12:36AM EST0

No, all of our community building thus far has occured online.

Nov 7, 3:09PM EST0

Do yo have any other projects in the making?

Nov 6, 9:37PM EST0

We do plan on launching another campaign in the relatively near future. I could talk about it, but I don't want to ruin the surprise.

Nov 7, 3:09PM EST0

How many crowdfunding campaigns are allowed per cause/project?

Nov 6, 8:42PM EST0

I suppose that would depend entirely upon the policies of various crowdfunding platforms, and probably also depends upon the specific needs of a given idea. That being said, it's probably best to focus all of your energies on a single campaign, and to try to make the biggest splash possible with it.

Nov 7, 3:10PM EST0
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