Every twentysomething has a great idea brewing inside him or her. But for whatever reason, whether it’s lack of time, money, or ambition, these ideas don’t always come to fruition. However, 24-year-old Luke has great insight on how to make your thought become a reality.
Luke describes himself as “enormously passionate about actualizing good ideas.” After founding more than four thriving start-ups, it’s fair to say Luke is really good at just that – making ideas become a reality.
Luke was about to enter his twenties when his childhood love for space turned into something much greater. He came across an old NASA paper that spoke about building a base on the moon by using plastic bags filled with moon dust because that was a cheap and easy way. “Is there a way to use this same idea in other environments that are resource constrained?” Luke wondered. He thought immediately about disaster relief locations and areas with limited resources that were lacking efficient supply chains for building small housing structures.
At 19, Luke convinced his parents to let him build a prototype in their backyard. After realizing his idea worked and it would be a cost-efficient process to replicate in other parts of the world, EarthBag was born.
The earthquake in Haiti happened shortly thereafter and Earthbag received sponsorship from the Clinton Global Initiative, Delta Social Innovation Fund, and Habitat for Humanity – raising $200,000 collectively. In 2012, Luke and his team spent a lot of time building prototypes in Haiti. Their last build had cut costs by 40% – an incredible result for small housing in developing countries.
After college graduation, Luke attended Imperial College London as a Marshall Scholar and compled an MSc in Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Management. While in London, he was inspired to start another company. “I was traveling so much and constantly having issues with my electronics dying,” Luke explained. Out of his frustration with the lack of options available for recharging batteries on-the-go, emerged his idea for a wearable battery company, which integrates batteries into our daily lives by utilizing places that were once wasted space. Wear Watt will provide power to people on the go and in turn, will raise awareness and investment for rural electrification projects throughout the world, a cause that Luke is very passionate about.
Luke’s team launched on Kickstarter a couple months ago with their first product called Outpost, a tablet sleeve with a built-in battery pack that can charge any of your electronics. They are working on a partnership with the UN Foundation to create a joint campaign around energy poverty issues. “We see electricity as the fundamental good that advances technology and advances society,” Luke said. “There are 1.5 billion people today in the world who don’t have access to electricity, and we want to create a product that’s targeting the very top end of the market to funnel electricity back into the bottom end of the market.”
While working to launch Wear Watt, Luke simultaneously started another energy software company. In the seventeen states in the United States where energy is deregulated, one shops for energy like shopping for a cable provider. This can be difficult if one does not know where to look, so Luke and his team built a Kayak-like platform for electricity shopping. WattBuy has launched in Pennsylvania, and almost immediately afterwards, had an offer to be bought out. Luke and his team are considering the offer because they would be able to expand to other states with deregulated energy markets, but are still weighing their options.
Luke’s advice to twentysomethings who want to launch an idea is, “Don’t let other people tell you no. It has far less to do with initial intelligence or the strength of an idea, but it has pretty much everything to do with taking that first step and committing 100% to something.”