The best ideas are always the ones that come to you when you least expect it. You’re on vacation (or at a conference) relaxing poolside, when suddenly your phone runs out of juice. And you haven’t even gotten halfway through your final strawberry daiquiri yet! It’s at that moment when the light bulb turned on for Southern California-based serial entrepreneur James Siminoff, who runs Edison Junior design laboratory, for his next big project. He was with his family poolside when not only was he, his wife and his kids struggling with their mobile devices, but so, too, were other vacationers, whether it was their iPhones, Androids, or iPads.
“I was watching everyone including myself running out of battery and shuttling devices back and forth between the room and the pool,” laughs Siminoff.
That’s when it hit him. He needed to create a portable multiple-device charger that was attractive enough to showcase poolside. It would have to be one which didn’t have a bunch of cables hanging off of it either. So, he created POP, aka Portable Power ($149). It’s an all-in-one, high capacity, rechargeable portable battery that he says “does not look like shit.” It has retractable cords, which reel in and out.
I first discovered POP in May when Siminoff was beta testing the product on the annual MaiTai kiteboarding trip to Maui. Last year when I attended the event, techies would hop off the water and run to their cars to charge their phones, sitting in them for great lengths of time until they had at least 20 percent juice. I guess the added benefit was they’d get to sit in an air conditioned vehicle while the car was running to power the device.
Not this year. POP was quite popular. Siminoff unveiled the larger scale model which corporations can buy and brand. They can have a multiple device charger to have at their booth at conferences or large events. Imagine being able to attract a captive audience for 20 minutes. They’d have to hang out and listen to your pitch while their phone charged.
This isn’t Siminoff’s first big project. He’s founded a few companies. They include phone-to-text solution company, Phonetag, which entered into an exclusive $17 million partnership with Ditech (NASDAQ DITC) in 2009. He also started the company which helps people get rid of unwanted emails, Unsubscribe.com which he sold to TrustedID.
But this is the first time he’s launching his product on KickStarter, where anyone can pledge from $1 to $1,000 or more to show their support. The ultimate goal is to raise $50,000. Those who pledge $129 or more will receive a unit. Of course, the more that is pledged, the bigger and more customizable the unit. It just launched on the site this morning.
I caught up with Siminoff on the beach where he explained to me why he decided to create a physical product versus an online service or software and the purpose of their launch on KickStarter.