founder

Founder Profile: Em(power)ing The Mobile Phone Generation

Summary

We live in an interconnected world where your phone is your lifeline. Be it your form of wallet, communication device, entertainment source, and access to transportation, etc., the mobile device is truly at the center of most people’s lives. No matter how sad that statement may be, it’s still true.

 

This means when it runs out of juice, many people can feel that they are stranded until they can find another outlet. This is the problem CHRGR is trying to solve for without creating friction for the user. While there have been charging stations placed in many malls and airports, no one likes being tied down to one spot or having to leave behind their phone.

 

But what if, you could simply pick up a free mobile charger wherever you are and go on with your night as your phone charges right back up in your pocket? This is what CHRGR is doing with their unique ad-based, free mobile charger that takes away all of the agita which comes with a dying phone.

We sat down with the former Twitter exec who has set out to solve this problem with impressive traction to date by founding CHRGR. Check out our discussion below.
Chris Lustrino

Can you tell us why you and your team are the right team to build Chrgr?

John

As a former media executive who enjoys the nightlife scene, I often found myself out late at a bar or venue with little or no battery left on my phone. Having limited options of tethering to an outlet and leaving my device unattended or worse letting my phone die, I realized the need for a product like CHRGR.

 

Prior to founding CHRGR, I worked at a number of technology, experiential and media agencies including R/GA, MKTG, Kinetic Worldwide, and Twitter. In the past I have also worked for Rocawear and Rocafella Records, supporting marketing strategy for the Kanye West debut album the College Dropout. 

 

More recently I was a member of the launch team for Beats Music, later acquired by Apple in 2014. I’d accredit my executive producer role at R/GA leading digital for Nike Basketball Global, as well as projects for Samsung, Mastercard, L’Oreal, A&E and a roster of other clients as the foundation for my creative digital and social experience. I have also been featured on Cheddar TV, Launch SF and Medium.

Chris Lustrino

For those that don’t know how do you define Chrgr as a business in one line?

John

CHRGR provides mobile device – battery power everywhere- paid for by advertisers so that customers don’t have to – across our national network of 10K+ venues across hospitality venues, music festivals, ride shares and special events.

Chris Lustrino

How does CHRGR make money?

John

Clients pay CHRGR to buy batteries, brand them w/ a creative CTA, and to distribute them throughout our distribution channels like Uber, Lyft, Aspen and a roster of hospitality venues that help the client acquire more customers – that’s our B2B2C model. 

 

Additional business is our specific B2C festival business at Bonnaroo – our 4th year (starting in 2 weeks) and Outsidelands (4th year also) where customers pay $30 and buy a CHRGR unit for our exchange service to power up all weekend – once depleted during the festival – return that unit and swap (exchange) for a freshly charged unit – rinse and repeat and ultimately leave the festival w/ a battery . 

Additionally you can also buy limited edition CHRGR units at the ACE Hotel in NYC and you can purchase the Mack Weldon Ion Weekender (overnight bag) that features our CHRGR as an accessory to the luggage.

Chris Lustrino

What has your traction looked like to date?

John

CHRGR tripled it’s annual revenue from 2017 to $700,000.00 in 2018.

Chris Lustrino

Is there any direct competition in this space and how do you differentiate from indirect competitors that have charging stations?

John

No other competition provides an ad supported model and we are the first to distribute free-to-keep units. With no app required or tethering we provide a competitive physical and digital ad experience, while solving low-battery issues for all customers.

Chris Lustrino

What is the value proposition you are selling to advertisers and do you have any metrics on the success of campaigns to date?

John

With Lyft, we saw 10% of CHRGR users went on to use Lyft and 91% of those customers converted, and used Lyft as paid new users with an average spend of $100 per month. 

Those sales are ongoing as CHRGR users have continued to use Lyft monthly since 2017. CHRGR helped Lyft get new customers and generate close to $1.2MM in new sales revenue for a media investment of $90K.

Chris Lustrino

Do the venues pay to offer CHRGR service or is it free for them?

John

It is free to venues and customers at this time.

Chris Lustrino

How do you scale this business? It seems challenging to have to get placed in so many locations?

John

Currently brands continue to pay for sponsored units that we distribute via our venue networks as a B2B2C one way street. Customers keep sponsored units to take home, recharge and use again. Both supply and demand continues to support this model

Chris Lustrino

Can you talk more about how you plan to build this into a data-driven business?

John

With QR, SMS, and NFC we track user acquisition via dashboards. Futurevision is using the Citi-Bike, Lime, or Bird model to provide an app driven service to “check out” a battery at one venue, use it and return to “check in” a battery to another venue in our already existing network of venues, events, and ride-shares. 

 

Our app will track data and provide user insights as does Citi-Bike, Lime, or Bird via GPS – connected to a user account.

Chris Lustrino

Where do you see the CHRGR business in 2-3 years?

John

We see ourselves using the Citi-Bike, Lime, or Bird model to provide an app driven service to “check out” a battery at one venue, use it and return to “check in” a battery to another venue in our already existing network of venues, events, and ride-shares. 

 

App will track data and provide user insights as does Citi-Bike, Lime, or Bird via GPS – connected to a user account.  Acquisition or partnership with a media or technology company that wants those consumer insights and to provide a utility service that benefits customers and helps the environment with super-capacitor batteries to be used, and re-used again. Power needs to be as ubiquitous as free wifi.

John and his team have solved a nagging pain point that most people have probably experienced at one point or another during a night out with friends. The fact that you could literally be handed power to recharge your phone with zero strings attached is pretty awesome.

Better yet, for advertisers, they are given the chance to play ‘HERO’ for the night and build a sticky marketing experience that will stick with you for days, weeks and perhaps months to come. That is a unique value proposition for advertisers, which we think will enable the continued growth of the organization.

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About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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