Running out of battery on-the-go has happened to all of us and I'm sure we're of the same opinion. It's annoying.
So, when Chargifi CEO Dan Bladen and his wife jetted off to South America for six months, naturally, they found themselves making very strategic decisions about the places they visited, based on the availability of power sockets.
"We would peek in through the front of coffee shops, restaurants, and look for power plugs, and then made a decision about where we ate that night, or had coffee based on that," said Bladen.
"It got me thinking, if we'd been traveling a few years earlier, we would have gone in looking to see if that location had Wi-Fi. In 2012, that was back when we were traveling, Wi-Fi was much, much more ubiquitous."
"Our problem moved from lack of connectivity to the need for the provision of power. It's something that you don't really need to go traveling around the world for a few months just to experience it, something that we probably are concerned with every day, where is our next charge coming from?," he added.
The Chargifi concept is simple. They supply wireless charging software or hardware (or both) to businesses. Businesses can log into the Chargifi dashboard to measure customer usage and even control the hours wireless charging is available.
Then, Chargifi customers can place Chargifi wireless charging 'keys' around the venue for customers to plug into their phones. All they have to do is download the app and connect their device to beging charging. Alternatively, if their phone has wireless capabilities built-in, they can just download the app and begin charging, without connecting to a Chargifi 'key'.
The Chargifi app will tell consumers where their nearest charging spot is, whether that's a cafe, restaurant or bookshop.
"We provide venues with a system that gets installed to make wireless charging available to their customers," explained Bladen.
"We charge the venue on a monthly basis for the provision of this, the same way that a venue might have a relationship with the cloud or BTOP to provide Wi-Fi for that venue. We do the same, but with wireless power," he added.
Wireless charging hardware is nothing new. Companies like Powermat supply some of the largest coffee chains in the country with wireless charging docks. Interestingly, Chargifi also supports this hardware and can provide its wireless charging software for businesses currently using Powermat or other wireless charging hardware brands.
"Our focus is really on the software that manages all this wireless charging tech that's already become mainstream. Our software can sit on top of Powermat hardware and can control their hardware," explained Bladen.
"We also bring our convenient hardware that we don't manufacture ourselves, but we have vetted from a user experience point of view. The real key different between how you would experience Chargifi in a venue compared to experiencing Powermat in a venue is the transmitters that we'd like to use are installed underneath the surface. They create a large wireless charging zone on top of the surface," he added.
What are the benefits for UK businesses?
It's well known that coffee shops make most of their money before 10am, leaving businesses struggling to fill seats and coffee cups later in the day.
Currently in use at the Duke of York’s office at Buckingham Palace, University of Greenwich and Imperial College London, Chargifi aims to get more people into UK businesses, to spend more money.
"Some venues, don't want to increase their [customer] dwell time, they just want to attract customers to coffee shops at different times of day," said Bladen.
"Our management software allows them to choose how long Chargifi sessions last at different times of day, so they can management everything.," he added.
It's pretty reasonable to assume that wireless charging will get people through the door of UK businesses, but the way the analytics are used by those businesses will determine whether we can expect a mass uptake from UK customer-facing businesses.
"One of the great stats that we've been given is that if you can increase dwell time in every kind of environment by 1 percent, you actually increase spend by 1.6 percent," said Bladen.
"Our future plans are to continue to support wireless charging as it goes from phone to tablet to laptops and other large devices. We're going down an API route, so we are providing our API for a brand to build Chargifi into their app as well, rather than people coming to the Chargifi app," concluded Bladen.
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