We all envision a future with widespread wireless charging, where the days of having to drag around your charger or a battery pack are a distant memory. That future is here thanks to Chargifi – the company behind building the foundational technology to bring ubiquitous wireless charging to the masses in hotels, restaurants, colleges, and offices. The wireless charging ecosystem is poised for explosion and Chargifi provides the infrastructure to bring the the convenience of wireless charging to consumers and an opportunity for corporations to benefit from understanding these consumers and their behaviors. The company already operates in three continents and counts several notable brands as clients including MGM Resorts, Grand Hyatt, Marriott, and Intel.
London TechWatch chatted with CEO and cofounder Dan Bladen to learn more about the company, its recent funding announcement, and how Chargifi is paving the way for wireless charging.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Lead investors were Accelerated Digital Ventures, along with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and firstminute capital. Investors prior to this round are Intel Capital, Techstars, R/GA Ventures, R/GA Accelerator, Brett Akker and Robyn Scott.
This was a Series A + round.
Tell us about your product or service.
Chargifi builds foundational technology that transforms the way the world manages, monitors and monetises power. We deliver a market-leading cloud-management platform that enables the mass deployment of wireless charging: the patented solution turns wireless power into a service that adds real value to a business.
What inspired you to start the company?
The idea for the business came about when myself and my wife were traveling the world a few years ago. We realised that much of our movement was dependent on where we could get a decent Wi-Fi connection, yet we still constantly struggled to keep our devices charged. When we returned, my friend, founder and non-executive director, Charlie Cannell and I got together to address the issue. We talked about how we might be able to give venues like coffee shops, bars, hotels and airports the ability to offer customers a wireless charging service while gaining valuable insight into their customers’ behaviour.
How is it different?
Chargifi provides the foundational technology that enables global brands, including Grand Hyatt and Pret a Manger, to transform and scale the way they manage, monitor and monetise power. Chargifi has built and patented an Internet of Things (IoT) platform specialising in the control and enterprise management of wireless power infrastructure. Chargifi’s IP covers ‘cloud-connected’ wireless charging for smartphones, through to electric vehicles and drones.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The global enterprise market – according to Global Marketing Insights the wireless charging market is set to be worth $25billion by 2023.
What’s your business model?
Chargifi is establishing strategic partnerships with managed service providers & System Integrators meaning Chargifi’s foundational technology, already installed at some of the world’s largest sporting venues, workspaces and hotels, will be available to these partners’ customers, with complete implementation and management. The strategic investment from HPE establishes Chargifi’s relationship with the global technology powerhouse. In addition to investing in the business, HPE and Chargifi will be partnering to take Chargifi’s wireless power to HPE’s worldwide customers as part of its connectivity solutions.
Do you think we will ever hit a point where wired charging will be a thing of the past?
We believe that the world is going electric and electric is going wireless – this is a monumental shift. As a society, we have never been more reliant upon power for our phones and vehicles than we are today. Apple’s announcement with the wireless charging enabled iPhone 8/X marks a tipping point for the industry, with Apple releasing Airpower later this year, we’re foreseeing another big moment with wireless charging entering homes. Very soon, you will be able to charge your new car wirelessly, by pulling it up over a wireless charging area. In the future drones will land on buildings and charge wirelessly before taking off again.
What was the funding process like?
An adventure – it always is! In the end we were receiving a lot of interest from investors in Chargifi, so we were in the really fortunate position of being able to choose which investors we thought would be adding the most value and invite them to join us on the journey.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Most new companies disrupt existing markets – Uber disrupted the taxi business, Monzo is disrupting the banking world. Companies disrupting existing markets generally do not need to prove ‘the market’ to potential investors but with Chargifi, and specifically the wireless charging market – we’re not disrupting a market, we’re creating one. So there’s an education about the market that needs to happen: how it is going to develop over the coming years and Chargifi’s place inside of that market. It can be challenging and not all investors are comfortable with this. In the end, we were able to partner with investors that are adding not just capital but also a huge amount of value in terms of both strategic alignment with technology platforms (HPE), patient, ambitious and visionary capital (ADV) and hyperconnected network (firstminute Capital).
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
ADV, discussing Chargifi said that we “embody the type of ambition that we love working with: who can scale big from the UK and define an industry. The company is preparing for a future of higher powered charging required for autonomous machines, since they can’t plug themselves in! The long term vision is to create a power exchange to help consumers and businesses source from the cheapest provider.”
According to Spencer Crawley, firstminutecapital, “The Chargifi team have something rare, the foresight and resilience to found a business ahead of its time. firstminute capital firmly believes that this persistence, as well as passion, puts Chargifi in a uniquely advantageous position to become the leader in a new, rapidly expanding market.”
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
In terms of our team Chargifi expects to double its headcount over the next year, we want to scale Chargifi globally, expand our footprint into the US and Asia markets. In terms of our product, we want to ather feedback from partners/customers and continue to build better, smarter wireless charging product
What advice can you offer companies in London that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank? Focus on building relationships, with your existing team, partners, etc. It’s important to invest time with your team, get to know people for who they are. Business is a two-way street where you have a shared vision, in return you’ll have a team that are inspiring and mission-orientated.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
This investment will enable Chargifi to accelerate sales and marketing, and international growth across US and Asian markets at a time when the demand for wireless power is on the rise. Leveraging our strategic partner networks to bring Chargifi to their customers – we are focused on growth and scaling Chargifi globally.
What is your favourite London pub to grab a pint with the team?
The Pregnant Man, right next to our office at Chancery Lane.