Prediction Series 2019: Interview with Dan Bladen, Co-Founder and CEO, Chargifi

Dan-Bladen
Dan-Bladen

What opportunities and challenges did you and/or Chargifi identify at the start of 2018 and have things worked out as planned?

One of the biggest opportunities seized by Chargifi was to piggy-back on the excitement created by Apple’s commitment to Qi wireless charging in Autumn 2017 followed by their Autumn 2018 announcement that saw wireless charging brought to every phone in their line up — it was a monumental moment for the industry, and a stake in the ground as to what the future will bring.

Key partnerships with like-minded companies, including Ingram Micro, also enabled Chargifi to scale quickly through 2018, leaving us in a strong position to kick-start the new year.

To capitalize on the growth in the wireless charging market, we took on additional investment at the beginning of the year. This really enabled us to explore new opportunities globally and more effectively scale our business. At CES, we announced a collaboration with consumer electronics leader, Belkin International to integrate Chargifi’s smart technology with its BOOST↑UP™ Wireless Charging Spot.

Our smart technology enables two-way communication between Belkin’s wireless charging hardware with the Chargifi Cloud management platform, providing data that gives actionable insights on customer behavior, as well as diagnostics on the health of the charging spots in the network.

Coupled with Belkin’s wireless hardware, this collaboration transforms wireless charging into a service for businesses, providing a valuable amenity for customers and offering a unique touchpoint to engage and enhance end-user experience for customers, employees and guests. Together we are taking wireless charging to the next level, using it as an all in one digital touchpoint to that enhances customer experience adding real value to businesses.

As a wireless technology company, how does Chargifi build on its expertise to eliminate challenges in mobility?

We initially set out to solve the personal mobility need with wireless power for smartphones. With wireless charging in laptops and tablets well and truly in development, we’re beginning to solve mobility issues in places such as smart office spaces and university campuses, and we will continue to develop our offering in these sectors during 2019.

We also see a huge opportunity in the electric and autonomous vehicle space. The ability to drive over a wireless charging spot and begin charging your vehicle without any human involvement paves the way for wireless vehicle charging at scale — as an autonomous vehicle doesn’t have an arm to plug itself into a power supply, wireless charging will eliminate one of the barriers to true mobility. It is exciting to be working in this space in the early stages of development; we have some exciting announcements coming in this area in the coming months.

What are your predictions on the “Role of Wireless Charging Landscape” and the closing gap between IoT and Mobile Automation?

Power sits at the bottom of the hierarchy of needs, and without it our connected way of living and working would not be possible. If you can influence how and when people get access to power, then you have a chance to influence the rest of their connected journey.

Electric is undoubtedly going wireless, so if you can use wireless charging as a trigger to do something in a connected landscape within an IoT connected device or within a building management system, for example, it enables a truly ground up smart experience.

We’ve recently spoken to a workspace in New York, which has 2,000 employees who are all hot desking. Imagine how much more productive their work experience could be if when an individual sat down at a desk, the workstation recognized who they were, automatically starting their work session while charging their device, customizing their local work environment through lighting and heating, even adjusting the desk itself to their desired height. It’s a vision that can be transformed into a reality through the Chargifi API, ultimately increasing employee productivity and wellbeing — simply by putting your phone on a Chargifi SmartSpot.

Do you see Wireless Power-as-a-Service growing into a cloud bundle in 2020?

By comparison, we’re already seeing that wireless charging is being adopted faster than Wi-Fi was in its early days. Companies like Aruba Networks are adopting wireless charging within their Wi-Fi ecosystem and our partners are now offering Chargifi’s solution as a fully managed service. Our ability to show the return on investment has been vital in driving this forward. As an example, a large hotel and casino client in Las Vegas recently saw a 10% increase in revenue per seat after installing Chargifi SmartSpots at their bar stools.

How do you train your Marketing and Sales Ops team to justify the use of automation and reporting tools? What feedback do you often get from this user-set?

Our Managed Service Providers benefit from one of the tools on the Chargifi Cloud called Analyze, which tracks trends and usage data in wireless charging spots. We were told a few months ago by a hotel client, for example, that they didn’t think they needed Chargifi SmartSpots in rooms, just in the bar and lobby. After presenting guest usage data we had collected from the rooms in a trial period, their opinion very quickly changed.

Consumers are demanding a more seamless travel experience, one where they don’t have to worry about needing international power adaptors or worrying about charging and by providing valuable insights for Sales and Marketing teams to optimize opportunities with end clients, as well as space utilization within public spaces, we are rapidly seeing the uptake of wireless charging across a whole range of businesses.

Within the Chargifi office, we have built an integration with workspace messaging app, Slack, allowing team members to check-in to any desk that they are working at within the workspace. This technology is useful for finding a colleague you need to speak to, particularly in large co-working spaces and offices, and providing a flexible working environment that allows productivity to flow between workspaces.

We find that our solution very quickly becomes natural and expected as it molds seamlessly into the way people work. Consumer demand for the service is increasing, and there will be close to 1 billion smartphones with wireless charging capability in circulation by the end of 2019. This shift in product availability and consumer demand also translates to a necessary shift beginning to happen with brands and those businesses that serve consumers — we saw the same happen with WiFi and we’re seeing the same happen now with wireless charging.

What was the most impactful lesson you had learned from 2018? How do you plan to implement the lesson in 2019?

The most important lesson we learnt in 2018 was that as a business we are only as strong as the people we have. We have gone to great lengths to hire the right people in the right places while doubling the size of our team in the process. In the coming days, we’ll be making an exciting announcement about new faces joining the Chargifi team, as we continue to grow into 2019 — we’ll also soon be announcing details of our second office in the UK.

Which leaders in the industry do you closely work with? How do they help you stay close to the business actions?

We work closely with key team members at some of the world’s largest hospitality brands, some of whom also make up our customer advisory board. This gives us key insights to make sure we are serving the industry’s needs to the fullest. We also like to make sure that every member of the management team regularly meets with customers to make sure they stay close and continue to understand their changing needs.

Belkin International has recognized and harnessed the added value of Chargifi’s software and cloud management system and we were thrilled to announce our partnership with them at CES earlier this year. Partnering with an industry leader in wireless charging hardware like Belkin further demonstrates that smart, cloud-managed wireless charging at scale will be the future of how power is managed and distributed.

One advice to all the CEOs and leaders in your community.

Be a servant leader — understand how you can best help your customers achieve their goals — then back yourself to do it. Believe in your own convictions and execute your vision of the future with confidence.

Dan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chargifi. He is passionate about using technology to solve everyday problems, creating intelligent systems that help us achieve more, faster. Prior to Chargifi he oversaw a team of 50 and designed and implemented network and AV infrastructure for a £6.5-million building project in West London.

Chargifi Logo

Chargifi builds foundational technology that transforms the way the world mass-deploys, manages and monetises power. It delivers a market-leading cloud management platform that enables the mass deployment of smart wireless charging; the patented solution turns wireless power into a service that adds real value for businesses.

Chargifi was co-founded by Dan Bladen and Charlie Cannell in 2013. Headquartered in London, Chargifi is deployed by over 90 organisations in 21 countries. Chargifi’s investors include Intel Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Techstars, Accelerated Digital Ventures, firstminute Capital and R/GA Ventures.

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