IdeaPaint founder out to reinvent the light bulb

light bulb

A Cambridge startup led by IdeaPaint founder John Goscha has unveiled a line of energy-efficient light bulbs that it claims can replicate the warm glow of the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs that went out of production early this year.

The Finally Light Bulb Company says it has found a way to reduce a bulb’s energy consumption without producing the ghostly, bluish hue of standard incandescent replacements, like LEDs and compact flourescents.

Finally Light Bulb uses copper coils and magnetic fields in place of tungsten filaments to produce bulbs that are 75 percent more efficient and last 15 times longer than incandescents. Its 60-watt replacement, for instance, consumes only 14.5 watts and can run for 15,000 hours before burning out.

The use of magnetic fields to generate light is called induction and is common in large commercial bulbs, but Finally hopes to establish a new market of induction bulbs for the home. Making a small-scale induction bulb was a major engineering challenge, according to Goscha.

“It took three years, seven PhDs, and $19 million in funding,” he said.

Goscha is a startup veteran best known as the founder of IdeaPaint, maker of the popular paint product that can turn any hard surface into a dry erase board. He started IdeaPaint as an undergraduate at Babson College in 2002 but left in 2010 and has spent much of the last few years working with a team of scientists, including the former heads of research at General Electric and Osram Sylvania, on the light bulb company, which was originally named Lucidity.

He said he identified a business opportunity in lighting by noting that federal regulations would gradually impose greater efficiency standards on bulbs. Certain kinds of incandescent bulbs are still produced, but some of the most popular varieties — like the 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs used in homes for decades — no longer meet government requirements.

Goscha also said he launched the company because of his own dissatisfaction with incandescent replacements. A few trips to the lighting aisle at Home Depot, where he heard the same complaint from consumers, confirmed that he is not alone.

“People are confused,” he said. “They see these curly, space-age bulbs that don’t look like what they’re familiar with. They’re being asked to pay more for a bulb they don’t like as much.”

At $8 apiece, Finally’s new bulbs are still much more expensive than traditional incandescents. But they are so much more efficient, the company says, that the lifetime cost savings more than compensate for higher purchase prices.

Cal Borchers is a business reporter for the Boston Globe. Reach him at
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