These days, it’s not wise to leave home without a phone charger. Podcasts, Spotify and endless Instagram scrolling quickly drain your battery, leaving unwitting users with little power to call a family member on the commute home or respond to that crucial work email.
Let’s say you forget your charger, though. What do you do if you’re in the middle of a busy day and your phone dies?
Desmond Wiggan and Aubrey Yeboah asked themselves this simple question while completing MBA degrees in China. They had an hour commute every day via train, during which Wiggan’s phone often died while Yeboah’s got dangerously close.
They found a solution when they stumbled on a bar where you could rent portable battery packs to easily recharge. The duo quickly saw the opportunity for this simple service to thrive back in the U.S.
“We thought about how many times we were in this situation and how many times we would need something to keep us going from point A to point B. We started to sketch out what we would want as a prototype,” Wiggan tells Hypepotamus.
Upon return to the U.S., Wiggan and Yeboah founded Charlotte-based startup BatteryXchange.
“Your cellphone is your lifeline,” says Wiggan. “It’s how you stay connected with work, your friends, your family.”
BatteryXchange provides an on-demand business for bars or retail stores, who pay a monthly fee to get a battery kiosk in their establishment. Customers can rent and use a battery pack as they drink a beer or browse the merchandise.
The team also sees conferences, festivals, and outdoor events as potential sites.
“We want to avoid the inconvenience of having to bother a bartender or a friend or even have to worry about carrying a portable battery. For us, it was enhancing what was a basic solution and taking it to another level,” says Wiggan.
When done charging, the renter drops the pack off at that kiosk or another nearby, similar to the on-demand bike model.
Available next month, the app will allow users to see nearby kiosks on a map, scan a QR code on the kiosk, pay the fee and access the portable battery with three charging cables. The kiosk will have chargers for both iPhone and Android devices.
Customers will pay a small fee to access the battery and five cents for each minute of charge.
BatteryXchange will release a platform for the partner businesses as well, to help them connect with the end user more effectively while they’re in the establishment.
“We’re looking for creative ways to tie all three parties together,” Wiggan says. “They want to enhance the overall experience of their attendees and opportunities to add additional amenities.”
The team is conducting a pilot across four cities in North Carolina before public launch in November. They’re raising a pre-seed funding round to go toward manufacturing and hiring.