Do you already know the Solar glass, the canning jar solar lamp? This lamp works with solar energy and therefore does not need to be charged at the socket. I think that the solar jar canning jar is a unique product that shows that entrepreneurs can also combine sustainability and profit. For this reason I have teamed up with Stefan Neubig, the founder and managing director of SONNENGLAS® to the interview to learn more about the story behind the solar jar and talk to him about the hype surrounding the fair trade product, the solar jar. Have fun!
Hi Stefan! What is your background and how did the idea to develop the solar glass in South Africa come about?
Stefan: I founded my first company while I was still a student. The idea for Sonnenglas actually came to me by chance, or you could call it coincidence. At the beginning of 2013, I was looking for a travel destination for a little time out after years of professional excitement that left me with little free time. Since I wanted to stay in the European time zone and at the same time was looking for a country that I did not yet know, my choice fell on South Africa, which immediately cast its spell on me.
I was thrilled by the nature and the people, their creativity, the attitude to life there and of course I also experienced the problems of the country first hand. Then one evening I discovered a solar lamp, which I found out was made in Johannesburg by a small family manufactory and was invented as a solution to the power outages that plagued the country greatly at the time.
Learn about the fair grade product Sonnenglas in the video on Galileo on Pro7
How does the solar glass work technically and why does everyone want it?
Stefan: The principle behind the solar glass is quite simple, and ingenious for that very reason. It is green high-tech that was even exhibited at the Expo in Kazakhstan in 2017 as a showcase for sustainable innovation. Our solar light is made from a canning jar, which has a high recycled content. During the day, the solar glass refuels solar energy through the solar panel, stores it in the battery and releases it as light in the evening. The glass is a canning jar, as many people around the world are likely to know it. The toggle switch is also inspired by an everyday object and is based on the cap of a swing-top bottle. This mixture of pragmatism and creativity is typical for South Africa. I think what's special about the Sun Glass is that it serves different functions, making it successful in different markets. I like the idea that it builds a bridge between Africa and the rest of the world. In Africa, the sun glass is a practical object whose main purpose is to provide light where there is none. In our country, people love the sun glass as a garden light that they can decorate themselves and fill with their imagination.
What cool application ideas have you seen from your customers?
Stefan: There are many and our customers surprise us again and again. Some, for example, build stories in their solar glass lanterns, fill sand in it and store supplemented by stones and small figures their vacation memories. Others decorate it throughout the seasons. We also know of restaurants and cafes that use the solar glass as outdoor lighting; last year, a British artist created an installation of 1,000 solar glass lanterns that visitors could help design. Every day we enjoy the ideas of people who love the Sun Glass. This makes us happy and very proud.
Finally, tell us something about your team and what we can expect in the future.
Stefan: Our team is globally positioned. Production is entirely in Johannesburg. As I said, 67 men and women work there, producing the solar glass. In Europe, we have just under 15 employees who take care of marketing, sales and support. In addition, since this year we also have a small team in the USA and one in Tokyo, as we would like to make the solar glass and its story better known there as well. Our goal is to build the best solar lamp in the world. Accordingly, we invest a lot of time and effort in the further development of our product and at the same time we are also looking for ways how we can spread our light even more efficiently in Africa. At the moment we are working on some exciting features, but unfortunately I can't say anything about them yet.
Thank you very much for the interview. I celebrate your sun glass and am excited to see what else we can expect! Take care!
I think it's great that Stefan Neubig took the time for the interview in the midst of all the hustle and bustle surrounding Sonnenglas. The Sonnenglas story is also an absolute inspiration for me as an entrepreneur, because it shows that you can get a sustainable and profitable product off the ground with simple means and, of course, a bit of chance. And in the end, there are no losers. The glass is also a really cool gift, I can only recommend 😉.
I look forward to your feedback, questions, or suggestions about the sun glass!
With best regards,