Some of our favourite products combine innovative technology and stunning design. From Apple products to Tesla’s rides, we all love sleek design powered by state of the art technology.
ArcLighter, the world’s first flameless, electronic, rechargeable candle lighter is no different. Initially funded on Kickstarter, ArcLighter is now available for pre-sale, and is this week’s Vancouver Entrepreneur feature business.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
My name is Kuni Ninagawa, co-founder and creative director of Ignite Lighters Ltd.
What inspired us to create Ignite Lighters is our love of innovative and creative products. Four years ago, together with my business partners, Shanu Mohamedali and Sonia Malhotra, we brought together a talented team of specialists and combined our passion for design and technology and introduced a new line of electronic USB lighters in Canada. Today, our products are now sold in thousands of stores worldwide.
But this inspiration wasn’t to create just an ordinary business. What really drives us is to keep doing something new. So we’re especially excited by the launch of our latest product – the ArcLighter – which was recently funded successfully on Kickstarter.
Having these opportunities to imagine new ideas and to make them into reality is possibly the best inspiration I could ever ask for.
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
The most challenging part for us has been raising awareness for such a new category of products. When we first started, no one knew that electronic lighters existed. So in a sea of traditional flame-based lighters, we pushed against the current to compete head on with the giants of the lighter industry.
As a small-unknown Canadian company, we definitely had our work cut out for us. Having an in-house sales and marketing team was definitely a key component to our success by being able to continuously and quickly fine-tune our message to get our voice heard.
With our latest product, the ArcLighter, we decided to take a completely new approach and launch it on Kickstarter, an online crowd-funding platform, to raise the capital needed to make the ArcLighter a reality.
Within just hours of launching our campaign, we began receiving pledges from around the world and quickly surpassed our original funding goal in less than a week to reach a total of almost $200,000. Thanks to our Kickstarter campaign, the awareness of ArcLighter and Ignite Lighters has quickly reached millions of people around the world. From The Daily Mail in the U.K. to Gizmodo.com to blogs around the world, we’re incredibly honoured to have had these amazing opportunities that continue to expand our business every day.
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of ArcLighter?
Vancouver has such an amazing hub of talent that you can create almost anything from scratch. From 3D printing artists that have helped us to test out the look and feel of the ArcLighter to import and export specialists who know everything to do with bringing products from Asia to North America to experienced consultants who live and breathe Asian manufacturing. And they all live right here in Vancouver just minutes away.
As a co-creator of the ArcLighter, I can’t imagine being in any other city but here. Even our ArcLighter video was created here in Vancouver with the help of our friends.
And, once you’re ready, you’re just a flight away from being on the factory floor in Asia to finally see your products being made. It’s quite amazing.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
With over 1.5 billion disposable lighters ending up in landfills every year, one of our primary goals was to help reverse this trend by introducing our rechargeable and reusable USB lighters. Unlike a disposable lighter, our Ignite Lighters can be recharged just like an iPhone by plugging it into any USB port.
And we’re now taking this to a new level with the ArcLighter to go beyond pocket lighters to target the larger candle lighters you see in stores everywhere. Most of these are disposable and are usually hard to use. With the overwhelming support we’ve received on Kickstarter, we’re hoping to make an even bigger difference once it becomes available later this year.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
Many years ago when I was looking to enroll at Emily Carr Art Institute, I visited their campus to learn more about their courses. I walked up to a teacher there and asked, “Should I enroll?” After showing my portfolio and several conversations later, he said, “You’ve come this far, why not try freelance and give it a shot?” Since then, I’ve never looked back.
Although I’ve always gravitated towards being independent, it came at the cost of lacking the bandwidth and resources to realize larger dreams and goals. Freelancing allowed me to be a part of the puzzle. My dream was to actually make the puzzle and help solve it.
ArcLighter for instance is not just about the concept or design. It’s a balancing act of engineering, planning, logistics, management, financing and much, much more.
After years of going on my own, I partnered with good friends Shanu Mohamedali and Sonia Malhotra along with a group of talented individuals. Together, it’s been about teamwork where each of our strengths are amplified and focused on making what was once impossible to do alone, to becoming a reality together.
Whether you’re on your own or already working within a team, I believe that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to really embrace the power of teamwork and realize that you can only be as successful as the team behind you.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
My first experience of seeing an entrepreneur in action was my mother. What inspired me the most was knowing she simply loved whatever she was doing. Whatever the outcome, you always knew she was happy because she did what she loved to do.
Today, surrounding myself with fellow entrepreneurs and just watching, interacting and really experiencing the passion towards the same goals together is inspiration in itself.
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
Don’t always try to do it all on your own. Surround yourself with those that have the same if not more passion and drive as you. And most of all, take it easy, you can’t do it all in one day!
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
Perhaps if there is one habit that I’ve come to learn and love is to always look up once in a while to see the bigger picture. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details but details only matter if everything works together.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
All I can say is to simply find what you love to do and never give up. But always be open to adjustments along the way. I’m very thankful for the many challenges I’ve faced that have caused me to make detours that have ultimately helped me to get to where I am today. And most of all…
“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton
Interested in ArcLighter? Pre-order yours today!
Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.