Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alice Chun, Founder, and CEO of Solight Design + SEEUS95, located in New York, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a solar innovation company, bringing solar to every household. We design and develop solar lighting and power solutions for every home. From Nigeria or New York, we believe we all have the power to create change by using solar in our lives. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars to use solar in your life. We all have the power to help heal the planet by using the individualized infrastructure. We give people the power to hold the sun in their hands. Energy is all around us, and it's free and limitless. By using solar products, collectively, we can lower CO2 emissions one light at a time.

One SolarPuff is used a few hours a day instead of a regular light bulb; one person can save over 90lbs of carbon emissions a year. Multiplied by 200 million people is 9 million tons.

We founded this company for three reasons:

  1. 1.6 billion people live without access to electricity; they resort to kerosene which is deadly and toxic. Two million children die from the pollution of kerosene, and most communities living in these regions spend up to 30% of their income on kerosene.
  2. Climate change is real, and we all have to power to make a difference in changing the world.
  3. Believe in the power of self-reliance, and that one small thing can make a huge impact if we all work together to create change. We don't need to tap into the grid all the time. This is individualized infrastructure, light, and power any time, anywhere.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Alice Min Soo Chun; I am an Inventor, Social Entrepreneur, and mother. CEO of Solight Design and SEEUS95 Inc. Former Professor in Architecture and Material Technology at Columbia University and Parsons the New School. Fueled by my passion for helping the underserved, I invented products that address world crises. My first invention, the SolarPuff has impacted over 1 million people living in underserved regions worldwide. I've won numerous awards, including the US Patent Award for Humanity, and my inventions have been exhibited at MOMA, the Modern Museum of Art in New York City; and in 2019, I was featured in Hillary Clinton's book, "The Book of Gutsy Women."

Most recently, as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, I saw firsthand how current market-leading PPE masks were harming the environment and harming faces. With the unprecedented need for innovation, I invented the first self-adhering transparent mask called SEEUS95, which is heralded as a "World Changing Idea" by Fast company.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

With our humanitarian mission of helping those in need. We have partnered with many NGOs to get our solar lights to communities after a disaster struck. Thus far, we have impacted over 1 million people living without access to electricity.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I had hired a new CEO to build the revenue, and they promised growth; then, after 12 months of bad management, I had to let them go. I should not have waited so long. No one ever says, "Gosh — I wish I had waited longer to let someone go!"

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Empathy: This has been overlooked in corporate structure historically. It is the origin of success with negotiations, raising investment, customer service, sales, effective teamwork, leadership, education, and knowledge transfer.
  2. Resourcefulness: A good entrepreneur can jump out of an airplane and build a parachute on the way down. —it's in line with– "an entrepreneur should have the hands of an angel and the mind of a thief." Resourcefulness is about one part organization of chaos, two parts seeing around corners, and one part imagination.
  3. Grit: Perseverance and purpose, diligence and vigilance are pandamount—never ever give up.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

It's a daunting challenge to start your own business, and many people will say you are not good enough, but you must stay focused and have faith. Your dream to make this a reality takes precedence; only you have the power, knowledge, experience, and love for your product. That fundamental belief should be the foundation for what should happen. Don't make decisions based on fear; instead, make them based on what you believe in your gut.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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