STARTUP SPOTLIGHT

Two Austin startups, Rap Charge and JumpStart Charging, focus on upping the power-station game

Posted March 23rd, 2017

Remember when there were two disaster-themed movies coming to theaters, “Volcano” and “Dante’s Peak?” How about “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact?” Or for a more recent example, that time there was an FX docu-series, “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” and a detailed ESPN documentary, “O.J.: Made in America,” both released last year? 

It’s not always a bad thing. “Armageddon,” for example, brought us a pretty decent Aerosmith ballad. And “Made in America” won an Oscar last month for Best Documentary.

Sometimes, in movies and in tech, there’s enough interest in an idea for more than one party to pursue.

Such is the case with two Austin startups, JumpStart Charging and Rap Charge, as both are trying to solve the issue of battery drain in our mobile devices, particularly when we’re in a social setting and it’s inconvenient to go hunting for a wall outlet. We spoke to the founder and CEOs of both companies, J. Collins Orr and Hunter Vielock, respectively, about what their companies offer and how they’re doing it.

JumpStart Charging

What does JumpStart (the company) do?

ContributedJ. Collins Orr is the founder and CEO of Austin-based JumpStart Charging. He said he's been developing the idea as a student at the University of Texas.

JumpStart provides multi-port smartphone chargers to bars, restaurants and waiting areas for Android and iOS. We’ve developed an easy-to-use proprietary companion app that helps users find charging locations and reserve ports so that they never run out of battery. We’re also exploring avenues to leverage user data for future versions and platform expansions about millennial/user behavior.

What’s your background and any prior experience on your leadership team?

Right now I am juggling being a Government major at The University of Texas at Austin and launching my entrepreneurial career. Angela Fulcher, our CMO, has extensive experience with go-to-market execution for startups and growth companies.

How are you funded?

Currently we are funded by angel investments. 

What’s been your biggest challenge and what are your goals for the next year or two?

My biggest challenge so far has been managing the various partners — engineering, manufacturing, hardware, software — and bringing them all together for the product, features and data / use case I want in our JumpStart system. And making it to class. My goals are to expand the system beyond the Austin market and to use initial data from our SXSW launch to improve v2.

Rap Charge

ContributedRap Charge is a 10-port charging station for devices that can be used in bars, hotels, conferences and other locations. It's made by Austin-based Rap Charge.

What does RAP Charge (the company) do? 

Not having a fully charged mobile device affects everyone. Rap Charge is a customer service solution for businesses that are constantly bombarded with requests from guests to "charge my phone.” This new product is a portable battery that is simply handed to guests to connect to their mobile device, allowing them to maintain complete control of their device while they rapidly receive an untethered charge. The product is primarily used in services industries like restaurants, bars, hospitals, car dealerships, medical facilities and hospitality suites. 

It’s a win-win-win because businesses are freed from the liability of damage or loss of a customer’s mobile device while charging. Guests stay on premises and remain connected to their device, allowing them to check messages while charging. With Rap Charge, owners no longer need to worry about maintaining messy cords or paying for expensive accidents such as water spills or screen breakage. Best of all, Rap Charge keeps guests on premises while staying connected, so they can spend more money and spread goodwill about the business. 

What’s your background and prior experience? 

ContributedHunter Vielock, a semiconductor industry veteran, is CEO of Rap Charge, which offers a 10-port charging station with detachable device chargers.

I have  20-plus  years in the semiconductors industry, spearheading business development, sales and sales management in multiple electronics sales organizations. 

I spent the past two years perfecting the design, development and launch of Rap Charge, which provides small to multinational companies charging solutions for their customers’ handheld devices. I oversaw the engineering, supply chain, marketing, sales, after sales service and logistics of Rap Charge. Prior to launching Rap Charge, I was a key principal at West Associates.

How are you funded?

While Rap Charge is currently privately funded, the company is constantly expanding its funding resources. We’re currently speaking to top private equity firms and searching for like-minded investment partners who can assist and fuel the organization's growth. 

What’s been your biggest challenge and what are your goals for the next year or two?

The initial response to Rap Charge has been overwhelming. Our biggest challenge is rapidly expanding our sales force to meet demand. Currently, the product is available via online sales at www.rapcharge.com and through a select network of distributors such as Ed Don. Our new home unit is coming out in a few months, and future markets are opening up as well. Our team is gearing up and paving the way for international and retail sales in early 2018. 

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