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January 18, 2019
U.K.-based Chargifi, founded in 2013, is making a grab for the global wireless charging market and is looking for partners – MSPs in particular – to grow with it in North America.
Chargifi came across our radar when it announced, earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a partnership with Belkin International to integrate wireless charging technologies and pursue enterprise accounts. (In 2018, Foxconn, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry, acquired Belkin for $866 million.)
Chargifi offers what it calls “Smart Charging for Business,” or smart access to power.
While we all know that wireless computing is great, often the problem with wireless isn’t connectivity but rather power, or the need to stay charged. Wireless charging changes that equation, but it’s not ubiquitous — yet.
Chargifi is on a mission to change that with its cloud management platform, which takes care of the mass deployment of smart wireless charging. Chargifi’s smart technology enables two-way communication between Belkin’s wireless-charging hardware and the Chargifi cloud-management platform, providing dashboards with analytics that give actionable insights on customer behavior, as well as diagnostics on the health of the charging spots on the network.
A BIS Research report released Friday predicts that the global wireless charging market is expected to reach almost $21 billion by 2023, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41 percent between 2018 and 2023.
Chargifi’s Dan Bladen
Channel Futures caught up with Chargifi CEO Dan Bladen to talk about the company’s road map and role for partners.
Channel Futures: How about you introduce us to Chargifi?
Dan Bladen: We founded Chargifi after my wife and I went traveling for six months and we kept running out of power. We kept diving into coffee shops, restaurants and hotels looking for power sockets so we could recharge and reconnect with friends and family back home. After a while we realized that we weren’t struggling with connectivity; we were struggling with power.
That’s everybody’s struggle — the need to stay charged. We believe at Chargifi that without power, nothing else happens. So if you can influence how and when people get access to power, then you have a chance to influence the rest of their journey.
Over the past few years, power has been going through a transformation. The world is going electric and electric is going wireless and we are helping to do for power what Wi-Fi has done for connectivity — cutting the cord and enabling the world to go truly wireless.
CF: Chargifi has a global presence?
DB: We’re based in London with operations in Belfast, Northern Ireland, North America, and we have a small operation in China. We’re rapidly expanding across those regions, primarily in North America and the U.K.
… We’re backed by some great investors, led by Intel Capital ($2.7 million) in 2015. Since then we raised an additional $8 million — HPE invested as part of another round we did in the spring of last year.
HPE acquired Aruba and was part of the group that perfected cloud managed Wi-Fi deployments; we do the same thing but do it for wireless power.
CF: Do you have a channel partner program?
DB: Absolutely … we primarily sell through the channel. We have a partner portal where partners and existing customers get …
… materials, the latest battle cards, case studies [and so on]. Because the industry is quite new, we find that we get the most success when Chargifi leads quite a number of the deals and then we use managed service providers for deal opportunities using their network. We source the deals and then we come in and help support the deals all the way through, because being a new market, there’s a high level of education that has to get done.
As time goes on, we expect to be able to leave our partners to do a good number of those new opportunities. At the same time, we’re getting large opportunities coming directly through our website. We mature those opportunities and hand them over to our channel partners to fulfill.
This is pretty new for us as we only set up distribution in the U.S. about six months ago.
We’re currently hiring sales talent in the U.S. to source and mature deals; then, we hand them over to the channel … that’s by geography or vertical market sector.
CP: What types of partners are you talking about — and let’s focus on North America. Do you sell in Canada?
DB: We’re setting up Canada right now and expect to have that done by the end of the quarter. We work with distribution in the U.S. and Latin America with Ingram Micro, and we started working with some managed service providers. In the U.S., for example, we’re working with PCM, one of our MSPs, and another MSP in Vegas called BCT, and we’re continually on the lookout for MSPs so they can offer wireless charging as a service for recurring revenue alongside other products that they’re selling to their existing customers.
We’re starting to bring in deals with pretty large hotels; one hotel client just saw a significant increase in revenue when they deployed Chargifi at the bar.
The MSPs are seeing that Chargifi can open new doors leveraging solution sales. Accounts that they were able to get into because they were selling access points or network switches are now leading the conversation with Chargifi.
When you deploy Chargifi, it sits on the existing network, whether that’s Wi-Fi, or we can bring a Bluetooth network into the existing location. That makes the customer much stickier for the MSP because it’s another IoT device on the network that they’re running. That makes it harder to remove that MSP from that opportunity because of the volume of devices that are managed on that network.
CF: Talk more specifically about the richer, IoT managed service opportunity for partners?
DB: If you take one of our big hotel customers in the U.S., they have 600,000 hotel rooms [across the brand] with wireless charging in the rooms, the bars, restaurants, the lobby, meeting rooms [and so on], so you’re talking 2.5-3 million wireless charging transmitters — without Chargifi software there’s no way to manage, monitor or …
… monetize those wireless charging transmitters, there’s no way to know if they’re being used or if they’re providing an ROI, no ability to update the firmware, and so on.
Wireless charging is happening in a big way, with 1 billion devices in search of wireless charging by the end of the year. Corporate handsets will have wireless charging by the end of the year … you’re going to see wireless charging everywhere. It’s going to be two-and-a-half years, at the end of this year, that Apple came out with wireless charging for the iPhone — and businesses are on a two-year refresh cycle.
On top of our solution there’s the IoT opportunity to enhance the user experience. So for the smart office, for example, I put my phone on the Chargifi SmartSpot and it checks me in on Slack to that particular desk, and if I had a standing desk that was remote-controlled and I put my phone down, it could recognize my phone and move the desk to the height I like to stand at. Or if it’s integrated into the building management systems, it could inform them [that] I’m in this room and my preferred temperature is X or Y.
(The Wireless Power Consortium is a standards development group that’s busy at work with wireless charging for tablets and laptops coming down the pike.)
We’re predicting wireless charging to be available on tablets and laptops in the next 12-24 months.
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