If Aubrey Yeboah is successful, the classic tale of running out of phone battery during a night out on the town is set to become a thing of the past.
“You’re using your phone tremendously to communicate, to get directions, to stay connected to friends and things of that nature, and that drains your battery,” Yeboah said. “So I was like, what if there was a way for people to charge and be able to stay connected and not have to have that anxiety of, if your phone dies, you’re stuck?”
Yeboah is the chief marketing officer and cofounder of BatteryXchange, a startup offering mobile charging stations. The six-person startup is based in North Carolina, and recently brought its charging technology to the DMV with a new office in Northwest DC.
The BatteryXchange kiosks dispense portable batteries, similar to a Red Box machine, offering charging solutions for mobile users. After downloading the company’s app, which was built using Java and is available on both iOS and Android systems, users can find a machine near them and grab a battery for free. Like a bikeshare, the batteries can be returned at a different station than they were initially checked out from. The kiosks have iOS, micro USB and USB C offerings for iPhone and Android users. Yeboah said certain laptops can also be charged, as well as devices like speakers, AirPods or even electric razors.
Locally, BatteryXchange currently has a pilot battery kiosk at the King Street Oyster Bar. Once the company gets more machines up and running, meeting places like bars, restaurants and universities can pay a monthly fee to host a kiosk. The LED screen on the kiosks can also run third-party advertisements for an additional source of revenue.
So far, Yeboah said BatteryXchange had three initial investments of $25,000 each to get the company started, and raised an additional $120,000 from crowdfunding to build out the mobile app. It also received grants from local firms including 1863 Ventures, but it’s currently looking to raise $500,000 from venture capitalists and angel funds to build out more kiosks.
“We want to get into these different spaces because there’s big opportunities there,” Yeboah said. “We don’t want to just stick to where we are. We want to still continue to innovate and find ways to grow the company.”
With the raise, Yeboah is hoping to get 80 kiosks in place before 2022. Already, BatteryXchange landed a college deal with Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, which is looking to host six machines throughout its campus. Once BatteryXchange is more established in places like bars, restaurants and universities, Yeboah would eventually like to build up to bigger entities like hospitals and airports. He also intends to make the kiosks solar-powered, so they can be used for festivals and other outdoor events.
“That’s the goal, building this ecosystem, providing connectivity to these smart cities,” Yeboah said. “As innovation continues to grow and develop, we want to be a part of that growth and mobile charging is unique, and it’s something that people need.”