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chron:

Shan Hussain, 26, a recent graduate of the entrepreneurship program at University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business, created a solar-powered address panel now sold at hardware stores such as Bering’s and Buffalo Hardware Co.

The goal, according to Hussain, is to branch out, create more solar products, then get them in major hardware chains.

According to Hussain, the genesis for his idea was his own frustration with trying to find friends’ houses after dark.

“It’s not enough anymore to give people a street address,” Hussain said. “You have to say, ‘It’s the one with the porch light on,’ or, ‘It’s the one with my car in the driveway.’ There are too many distractions out there.”

When he was 24, Hussain spent three months interning for a company in China that makes fitness equipment. Its president took Hussain under her wing and taught him about manufacturing, marketing and the like.

That still didn’t prepare Hussain for his first experience with a Chinese manufacturer, he said.

“I was so excited to get my first prototype,” Hussain said. “I left the unit out in the sun to charge, and when I went back to check on it that night I found it had melted into a puddle.”

Undaunted, Hussain tried three more manufacturers before finding one that provided both the quality he sought and had enough employees to produce the quantity he wanted.

He knew he wanted his numbers 4 inches high to meet building codes, which meant enlarging the product from its original prototype. While there are other solar address lights on the market, Hussain said he believes his product’s design and construction separate it from the competition.

“I really knew I was on to something when I ran an independent focus group last year and the 25 people who participated were so enthusiastic about the product,” Hussain said. “With their help, I also established a price point and decided to focus exclusively on hardware stores.”

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Originally posted by Angela Shupe on May 24, 2010 in Ideas.

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