Lighting the Way, One Revolution at a Time
By Marianne Skoczek
Jim Houk and Adam Pettler, both MBA 11, want to revolutionize how cyclists see and are seen at night.
Eighteen months ago, the pair teamed up with Stanford inventor/engineer Kent Frankovich to found Revolights Inc. and develop a wheel-mounted bicycle lighting system that offers optimal nighttime illumination.
Unlike traditional bike lights–which focus primarily in one direction—Revolights casts 360 degrees of light, boosting biker safety by increasing their visibility to drivers.
“Our MBA studies provided a solid foundation for entrepreneurial success,” says Houk. He and Pettler developed a comprehensive business plan for their venture in a group study course. A Business Development Clinic “further demonstrated the complexity involved in evolving an idea into a commercially viable product,” Houk adds. “The candid feedback from my professors and peers was invaluable.”
Last fall Revolights launched their project on kickstarter.com, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, seeking $43,500. They received $215,621 in pledges from 1,442 people in just over a month. They’ve since won praise from CNN, TEDxVienna, CNET, Gizmodo, CORE77, Fast Company and PC World.
Revolights plans to ship its first 900 pre- ordered Kickstarter units late this summer, followed by a domestic launch, with international expansion soon thereafter.
With an undergraduate biology degree and a seven-year stint in the biotech industry, Pettler says he is really “a science guy at heart—one who these days builds bike lights. But my MBA studies taught me to think like a businessman.”
And this is paying off for his company. “We plan to realize the market’s true potential,” says Houk. “We are currently a niche product, compatible with only specific bike rims. Our pipeline includes future Revolights versions that will be able to adapt to a variety of additional wheel types.”