You’re at the store to buy a replacement bulb for a hall lamp. Should you go with the $1 conventional incandescent bulb? Or choose an LED (light emitting diode) bulb that will last for 25 to 30 years, uses about a tenth of the energy, but costs $45? You want to be environmentally conscious, but these days you’re more conscious of your budget.
SB alum Kedar Gupta wants to help solve both those problems. His new company Advanced Renewable Energy Company (ARC-Energy) in Nashua, New Hampshire, intends to be the world leader in reducing the cost of materials and production for energy-efficient LED bulbs. And the company’s ambitious growth, he predicts, should also help boost the country’s sagging economy.
Kedar was one of the earliest adopters of solar technology business. Over 15 years ago, he and his wife Renu Gupta co-founded GT Equipment Technologies, Inc., now called GT Solar, which designs and manufactures photovoltaic equipment and technology to make solar panels. The company began in the Gupta’s basement with only $1,000 for seed money. By the time the company went public in 2008, it was a global market leader with 120 employees and more than $60 million in annual revenue.
In 2007, Kedar and Renu started ARC-Energy with six people and a little money (he jokes) that he set aside from the $2 weekly allowances Renu gave him for lunch. The company’s progress has captured investors’ attention; one with whom Kedar has already inked a venture capital deal of two tranches worth $5 million each.
Kedar’s company also captured the attention of the White House. Last month President Obama visited ARC-Energy on his tour of companies that represent the future of the United States.
After his visit, Obama lauded ARC-Energy at a public rally. “These folks are hard at work on a new manufacturing process for ultra-efficient LED lights that will make them affordable for ordinary people. The technology they’ve created is the only of its kind in the world. Right here in Nashua.”
Kedar was gratified by President Obama’s endorsement. He was even happier about publicizing the fact that, even during an historical employment contraction, his small company almost doubled and it’s on target for further expansion this year.
While Kedar has been a solar energy proponent throughout his career, the main motivation behind his entrepreneurialism is to do what he can to help sustain the American dream that brought him here from India in 1968.
His sole request of the White House was that Obama pose in a photograph with the entire ARC-Energy staff. He felt it would be a visual reminder that it’s people behind the technology and innovation for which America is known throughout the world.
“Job development is what excites me,” said Kedar, “And the photo of my growing staff together with President Obama meant more to me than the visit itself.”