Designing a Better Light Bulb

Startup taps local contractors, UO students to design better LED lighting

How do you invent a better LED light bulb – one that is low cost, saves energy, and can change colors and intensity using just your smart phone?

For Luxium LLC, an Oregon BEST Company, you tap into a local network of small businesses dedicated to helping startups with product development. At the same time, you challenge teams of product design students at the University of Oregon to come up with their best, out-of-the-box design ideas for packaging the new bulb into stylish fixtures for both commercial and residential users.

"We have built this business based on a strategy of leveraging the resources of many small providers in the Portland area that have unique design and manufacturing skills and make a living by catering to the specialized needs of product development projects like ours," said Roger Hicks, Luxium's Vice President of Marketing and Product Management

This lean-and-local kind of approach to building a business is becoming increasingly popular, says Hicks. "Not only are more people becoming available as a resource to support these virtual business models, it is also a fast and low-cost path to market," he says.

Luxium bulb with smart phonesLuxium reached out to a list of small providers (see below) to get help with everything from board layout, mechanical design, wireless control and safety testing, to firmware development, marketing, graphic design, smart phone apps and legal support.

Benefits of using a local network of small providers include the ability to be flexible in the types of resource skills applied to specific problems during a product development cycle, Hicks says.

"It’s also very easy to coordinate using social networking and mobile communications, and it requires very little overhead expenses," he says.

In the past 18 months, the company has introduced half a dozen LED lighting products using this local network approach to product development. Watch the video about Luxium.

Working with UO product design professor Wohnee Arndt, Oregon BEST helped facilitate the student design competition, with the winning teams sharing $5,000 in prize money. Oregon BEST also offered Luxium additional business advice and support, including $20,000 in early-stage investment funding.

Luxium's lighting products, which are manufactured in Portland, are more energy efficient and cost less to manufacture than other color-adjustable LED lamps, Hicks says.

Luxium was co-founded in 2015 by a group of serial entrepreneurs led by Arlie Conner, who won “Innovator of the Year” while at Infocus and later co-founded successful startups Lightware and Lumencor. Luxium is utilizing the deep expertise in electronics around the Portland area.

Hicks says Luxium lights have the performance of a professional grade lighting product, but with the simplicity of a consumer product.

The company is selling to event rental companies, theaters, churches, concert and wedding venues, schools, and musicians.

Retailers are using the lights to highlight store displays in new ways, and consumers use the lights to personalize their home lighting beyond basic white.

Some of the local companies Luxium has collaborated with include: