Spor Chargers Poised for Launch (With Your Help)
Founders of all-in-one solar charger find inspiration in water, crowd funding.
May 27, 2014
by Joseph Master
Two men. One company. Zero tolerance for inadequate energy.
This phrase describing Spor co-founders David Hunt and Jason Browne is featured prominently on their company’s recently launched website. That the slogan’s syntax descends from two to zero is no coincidence. Since its 2013 inception — a year that saw this dynamic Drexel duo win the Baiada Institute’s prestigious Incubator Competition, as well as Philadelphia’s third annual Lean Startup Machine challenge — the folks at Spor have been simplifying their product to the molecular level.
That Spor has been able to scale without contamination — Hunt and Browne still own it, they still run it and they’re about to make a bigger splash — is a testament to their commitment to their original inspiration, which has more to do with nature than you’d think.
Water has always been a muse. In fact, Hunt’s personal motto is: “Be like water.”
If Spor was a molecule, it would most definitely be water: two parts hydrogen. One part oxygen, zero tolerance for contamination — by both the perils of non-renewable energy and dilution of Spor’s lofty purpose.
“Our greatest mentor, as esoteric as this might sound, has been nature. And more specifically, water,” Hunt says. “Our product is simple, it is highly durable and adaptable under environmental situations, and gives life to products and even to other Spor’s through daisy chaining [the ability to charge one Spor charger with another].”
“I like to make the connection between water and electricity,” adds Browne. “It’s very similar as both water and electricity have a flow that can be controlled and manipulated to get it to where it is needed. Water can be collected from the sky when it's cloudy and electricity can be collected from the sky when the sun is out. Bottles hold water. Spors hold electricity.”
Spor chargers — which feature customizable shells that are made using a 3D printer — do more than give mobile devices power. They make clean energy more accessible and affordable for the world. Spor chargers aren’t just solar chargeable; they can also be powered through indoor lighting as well as by connecting to USB ports and electrical outlets.
“People are demanding more from their mobile devices without having the battery to support it,” Hunt says. “We also realize that the current energy mix is saturated with non-renewables. To change that, we’ve created a product that consumers can use and an ecosystem that can scale up into larger energy applications.”
Browne, who had the original idea for Spor, is more forceful in his messaging.
“We still generate almost 50 percent of our electricity from coal,” he says. “For perspective, every time you plug your phone into the outlet, you are powering it 50 percent from coal. That's crazy. Why are we using such a dirty, industrial process to power devices that use only a few watts of power?”
Here’s the exciting part: After hundreds of iterations, prototypes, and phases of market testing, Spor is ready for the next step: launch. Which means clean wattage. For all. And to get there, Hunt and Browne are placing their company in the hands of the masses.
Crowdsourcing a launch.
In an effort to raise $100,000, Spor will launch a 30-day Kickstarter initiative May 27. Two days later, they’ll be pitching to the next round of potential investors (to date, they have won $10,000 from Baiada and received $25,000 in angel funding).
Why Kickstarter? Because what used to be a venue for bootstrapping small ideas with the help of a few more boots has now grown to support $100,000 project’s like Spor’s.
For Browne and Hunt, it’s a no-brainer. Crowdfunding does not saturate equity, it’s a great marketing tool and it will force their team to iron out the kinks to prepare for launch.
“In June, we expect to work with HAXLR8R a business accelerator, if we get accepted, which will land us in China to secure suppliers and then the Bay Area to develop our business,” Hunt says. “After that, full scale launch!”
That is, if their Kickstarter funds come through.
“If that happens, the product ecosystem will be primed and our marketing efforts supportive of liberating people from the shackles of non-renewable energy,” Hunt says.