The Number 17

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Some of you may remember a 2007 Jim Carrey movie about a man named William Sparrow, who was tormented by the number 23. Once he started looking, he saw that his whole life looped around the number 23. For me, here in Delhi, it’s the number 17. It’s a 17 minute auto rickshaw ride each morning from my new home in Defense Colony to my carpool meeting spot at D.light CEO Sam Goldman’s house in East of Kailash. From there, we are joined intermittently by a D.light intern or two and any visiting D.light partners or staff to make the smoggy, horn-filled commute across the Yamuna River to our offices in Noida Sector 2.

Despite claiming an automatic time zone adjustment ability, my mobile phone clock is absolutely stuck at 17 minutes slow. Now used to this bizarre time lag, when I had to get up at 5am to make my flight down to Hyderabad this weekend to meet up with some Acumen Fellows, I automatically set my alarm for 4:43am.

As I was sitting at a D.light dealer’s electronics store in Aligarh District one night in late November, I counted exactly 17 bug bites on my feet acquired over a long but insightful day in the field. I smiled to myself as the shopkeeper explained how he prefers to sell his homemade lanterns that promise him recurring service and maintenance fees, rather than the sturdy D.light LED lights that do not. For more on the day I spent learning from D.light dealers and distributors alongside Sanjeev (D.light advisor), Rahul (D.light Salesman), and Meenaskhi (phenomenal D.light intern) please check out the clip below. I also wanted send a huge thank you to Meenakshi Chhabra, who devoted several weeks to the D.light business development strategy team during her transition between The Monitor Group and starting her MBA program next month at INSEAD Singapore. We’ll miss you!

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