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Start-up says forget the outlet, charge on the go

One start-up is giving mobile addicts power, no strings attached.

"We got tired of carrying our charging cords in our pants pocket and searching for a wall outlet," says MobileQubes co-founder Sean Carrigan. "We also didn't want to buy expensive external battery packs that we would have had to remember to charge and carry with us."

Power On Demand

MobileQubes self-service kiosk rents portable battery packs for $4.99; customers also have the option to buy them.
Source: MobileQubes
MobileQubes self-service kiosk rents portable battery packs for $4.99; customers also have the option to buy them.

So Carrigan, along with Jason Palmer and Mike Melito, founded MobileQubes, a network of self-service kiosks where customers can rent portable battery packs to charge their mobile devices.

"Our customers are able to get the power they need while they continue moving throughout their day and simply return the batteries back to any MobileQubes kiosk when they are done," Carrigan told CNBC.

A "qube" costs $4.99 a day to rent, and would have to be returned within 24 hours. Alternatively, the battery pack can be purchased for $44.99, giving users the option to own one that can be used again and again.

Since its December 2014 pilot launch, MobileQubes has opened in 15 markets including New York, Chicago, Boston and Miami.


Charged Up

MobileQubes portable battery pack
Source: MobileQubes
MobileQubes portable battery pack

David Wu, a venture capitalist at Maveron, wondered how the start-up differed from competitors in the charging space.

"Ours is really one of the only truly portable solutions," the founder told CNBC, adding that "what you see out there in the market right now is the lockbox station (and) the charging pole that requires people to stay tethered there."

Also, by utilizing both rental and purchase revenue streams, Carrigan said MobileQubes provides consumers with a high-quality charging solution at two different price points.

But Angel investor Nat Burgess questioned when the kiosks would become profitable.

The start-up will would not disclose specifics on its user base, but Carrigan said MobileQubes is a high-margin business on inventory, and "to keep an R.O.I. timeline of less than a year, we really only have to generate about four transactions per day."

In addition, Carrigan told CNBC the start-up leverages the screens and kiosk frames for digital advertising. The founder said MobileQubes has secured national contracts with major venues and brands such as Amtrak, Hyatt, Caesar's Entertainment and even the NFL.

The New Orleans-based start-up self-funded $800k, and recently closed a $1 million bridge round.

Carrigan said MobileQubes plans to roll out over 300 units throughout the U.S and internationally in 2016.

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