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Crowdfunding campaign green-lights lamp production

November 8th, 2013

News Coverage:

Crowdfunding campaign green-lights lamp production

Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 7:31 am, Fri Nov 8, 2013.

By Doug LeDuc
dleduc@kpcmedia.com

A Fort Wayne electrical engineer who likes to tinker around and invent things on his own time has attracted enough backing at the Kickstarter crowdfunding website to start production for a new light-emitting diode desk lamp.

Peter Chaparro, who works for a local company that provides entertainment lighting, said his Eclipse lamp requires no more than 3 watts of power to produce the amount of light normally associated with an incandescent lighting fixture of 15 watts to 20 watts.

It does this by projecting a beam of blue LED light from the lamp base onto a phosphor disc, which converts it to white light without ever getting hot. A captive touch sensor is used for a controller, which turns the lamp on or off whenever the aluminum part of the fixture is touched. The beam is almost invisible unless smoke, mist or dust makes it visible.

Chaparro attributes much of the success of his Kickstarter campaign to the attention his lamp attracted in mid-September at the Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire organized by TekVenture.

“They really liked it, and as a matter of fact, some guys wanted to buy one on the spot,” he said. “I told them it was just a prototype and I was just playing around, and that’s part of what led me to do the Kickstarter thing.”

Chaparro describes himself in his Kickstarter profile as an active participant in “maker faires” and the “maker community,” who always has had an eye out for cool projects, which he has hoped could lead to the launch of his own product.

TekVenture is a Fort Wayne nonprofit group with a mission to improve public access to specialized tools, equipment and training required by artists and inventors to advance innovative projects. The annual Maker Faire is a creativity showcase for northeast Indiana artists, scientists, inventors, crafters, tinkerers and techies.

Chaparro’s exhibit was among close to 100 at the event, which was attended by about 2,100, according to Jane Applegate, who coordinated it. “People loved him and he was in a great location,” she said.

“I didn’t get around to all the ‘makers’ like I wanted to, but heard there was such positive feedback he decided to go ahead with the Kickstarter campaign,” she said. “That’s what TekVenture is all about. The Maker Faire is a showcase to get them engaged with us.”

The concept of crowdfunding has been around for years and is best known as a means of raising funds for creative projects. Some emerging growth businesses also have generated startup capital through crowdfunding websites by preselling products to fans of their latest creations.

At the Kickstarter.com website, for example, visitors who want to support a recording artist in northeast Indiana can back the “Something Greater” album by Dave MacDonald & Emma in Fort Wayne or the “Set My Sail” album by Nick Stanton in Warsaw.

They can pledge specific amounts toward fundraising goals in return for rewards that increase in value as the size of the pledge grows. Inventors also seek backing at crowdfunding websites to bring new products to market.

With the Eclipse campaign, rewards range from a thank you with a promise to add the donor to Chaparro’s contact list for a pledge of $1 or more, to two lamps for a pledge of $100 or more, with two votes on the first anodized colors used for the base of the lamps when they are produced.

Chaparro calculated $5,000 in pledges would be enough to start production of the Eclipse, and as of Nov. 5, he had attracted $13,724 in pledges from 258 backers.

The Eclipse is the result of extensive research and a great deal of experimentation in a shop set up in his garage. “I know LED technology is the lighting of the future, and I spent a lot of money out of my own pocket trying to learn about the technology because I believe it’s going to pay off,” he said.

“I have a CNC (computer numerical control) machine in my garage where I did all my prototyping,” he said. “I’m going to be doing some of the manufacturing out of my shop, and I’m going to have some work done outside.”

The next step toward the product launch once the Kickstarter campaign ends on Nov. 25 will be to send some Eclipse lamps to its early backers, select the first colors for the base and make any refinements based on feedback in December. Production will start in January.

Chaparro said he would be interested in starting a business to make and sell the lamps if he found an investment partner.

“I didn’t want to form a company under my own name if somebody else was going to be a part of it also,” he said. “It’s still in the pretty early stages here, and I’ve been blown away by the response on Kickstarter.”

For more information on the Eclipse and its Kickstarter campaign, go to www.kickstarter.com/projects/2111316994/eclipse-a-simple-concept-in-lighting.

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