BY BARRY ARD—BioLite is on a mission to bring Energy Everywhere™ with revolutionary products that transform the way we Cook, Charge and Light our lives off the grid. They are a team of engineers and designers, operators and analysts, story tellers and evangelists, who believe that advanced technologies, built on sustainable business practices, have the power to change the world.
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BioLite Energy’s unique Parallel Innovation business model pairs the needs of families living in energy poverty with the passions of outdoor enthusiasts pushing the boundaries of life outdoors and on the go.
The company’s founders, Jonathan and Alec, met at Smart Design in New York City where they quickly bonded over their interest in sustainable design. Alec, frustrated that almost all efficient camping stoves required fossil fuels, had the idea of a wood-burning stove able to utilize its own thermal energy to improve combustion. Jonathan, an avid camper, quickly brought his engineering background to the table and the two began the design process. Countless nights, weekends, and prototypes later, the BioLite CampStove was born: a portable biomass stove that leveraged thermoelectrics to create a smokeless fire all while charging personal devices.
A Mission Ignited
In 2008, Jonathan and Alec took their working prototype to a combustion conference where they discovered their technology could have an impact: half the planet lives in energy poverty, lacking safe and reliable ways to cook, charge, and light their lives; three billion people cook over smoky open fires every day, leading to 4 million premature deaths annually. It was with these shocking numbers that Jonathan and Alec committed to building a business capable of bringing safe, affordable energy to those who needed it most. Based on the same heat-to-electricity technology as the CampStove, The BioLite HomeStove, is a large format biomass cookstove that cuts fuel consumption in half and reduces toxic emissions by ninety percent, all while charging mobile phones or LED lights. But to bring this technology to life, they needed a business to make it happen.
To solve a challenge as big as energy poverty, they need a business model that could operate at the same scale as the problem. They believed that bringing energy access to half the planet would require a business that scaled on the value it delivered to its customers, not on philanthropy. To achieve this, BioLite operates using a unique business model called Parallel Innovation: their team incubates core energy technologies and then turns them into products unique to their outdoor and emerging markets customers. Revenues from their outdoor markets are reinvested in building a commercially sustainable business that can bring safe, affordable energy to families living in energy poverty across India and Africa. Through the support of our recreation market customers and community, BioLite Energy is given the resources and a runway to build a business that will bringing energy everywhere™.
|people reached in Africa and Asia
|kilowatt hours of electricity generated
|tons of CO2 offset by our products
BIOLITE IMPACT TRACKER
The Road Ahead
Fast forward to today and their team has grown from two guys to over 80 BioLiters working across the US and Africa. They have expanded their energy ecosystem from one stove to over 20 products across cooking, charging, and lighting, and continue to design solutions that are revolutionizing the way people worldwide experience energy on a personal scale.
It takes a lot of work, and Jonathan and Alec want you along for the ride – check out their special series The Road To Impact, and get a behind-the-scenes look at their their product development process and what it really takes to bring energy everywhere.
Visit BioLite.com for information about this social enterprise and to explore their current product range.