JASON BROWNE and David Hunt, both 23, of University City, are recent Drexel grads and co-founders of Spor. They built a prototype of a portable, solar-powered charging device, and Spor launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise $100,000 by June 29. Browne is CEO; Hunt is director of business development and marketing. I spoke with Hunt.
Q: How'd you get the idea?
A: Jason wanted to make a portable charger he could carry around and connect to his projects. He and I are also eco-conscious and wanted to do something that sustained the Earth. So we strapped a solar panel on the charger and it just jelled.
Q: Startup money?
A: We entered a competition from [Drexel's] Baiada Institute [for Entrepreneurship] and won $10,000 plus office space in the incubator here, which allowed us to finalize a prototype.
Q: What's Spor do?
A: It's a battery charger that powers smartphones, tablets and cameras, anything under 5 volts with a USB port, and passively recharges itself via the sun or artificial light.
Q: Value proposition?
A: You got dinky portable battery chargers that give you 15 minutes of extra charge time, or your battery chargers like Goalzero or Mophie, which are $90 to $100 and exist mostly in outdoor environments. We plan on retailing ours for $40 to $50. Spor's also customizable for 3-D printing; you can get it in any shape. Power your device and your life by Spor.
Q: Any customers yet?
A: We launched our Kickstarter, and those are in essence presales. We have more than 800 backers and raised more than $60,000 to date.
Q: What do you plan to do with the money?
A: Begin full-scale production. The components will be sourced in China, assembled at our warehouse in North Philadelphia and then shipped out to customers via our website. In the developing world, we plan to go the MicroConsignment route by giving people the product and tools to teach them how to sell and they retain a portion of profits and distribute a premium back to Spor.
Q: How big a market?
A: There are 6.5 billion mobile phones in the world, and all need to be powered. Also tablets, cameras and other gadgets.
Q: The name?
A: A spore is a single-cell organism that gives life to different organisms and is highly durable in different environments. Spor gives life to your devices, which in turn gives life to you.
Q: What's next?
A: In the next year, we see full U.S. penetration with regional distribution partners. In two to three years, I see us in international markets and really changing small-scale solar. We are literally selling access to electricity in a renewable way.