Xyra developed Powercard XS that has no cables jutting out and is built on a technology of single port smart-charging
On a November night in 2012, three professionals—Arzan Irani, Armaan Gandhi and Sahej Sethi—were having a conference call to discuss the possibility of starting their own venture. Irani, who was hosting the call from Florida, got disconnected in the midst of it. The other two (one in New Jersey and the other in Mumbai) wondered why, till Irani called back. The reason: his battery had died.
This proved a eureka moment for the three friends who had also been discussing the possibility of starting a company that makes mobile chargers. When they reconnected, they were certain that mobile chargers was the way to go, making it almost a case of a dead battery giving life to a new venture called Xyra Partnership in January 2013.
The company built wallet-size rectangular mobile charger prototypes later that year, but penetrating the market was easier said than done. Indian e-retailer Flipkart.com alone offers 986 models of portable mobile chargers. The most well-known brands among those available in the country are Sony, Nokia and California-based Anker. US-based start-up called Native Union makes a similar product called Jump.
Xyra had to be unique. “Xyra Powercard XS is designed in such a way that it fits into the wallet comfortably," said Irani, co-founder and chief executive officer of Xyra, describing the appearance of their product that was inspired by credit cards.
Powercard XS has no cables jutting out of it. The charger is built on technology of single port smart-charging, which means that the USB cable is connected to a power source while the other mini USB/iPhone charging cable is connected to the phone. When the phone is connected through the device—to either a wall socket electricity source, or a computer—the battery of phone gets first charged up to 100%, before automatically switching to charge the Powercard.
The main circuit board fabrication of the Powercard takes place in Mysore, while the final assembly of the unit is done in Vasai, a suburb of Mumbai. “We didn’t choose China (where it could have been cheaper) because of quality control and delivery issues. Also, we wanted to build an Indian product to solve Indian problems," added Irani.
The product is currently available on Indiegogo, an online crowd-funding campaign platform, where each Powercard is priced between $39 and $45 (between ₹ 2,340 and ₹ 2,700). The company claims to have sold products worth more than $38,517 (gross merchandise value) since the campaign started in April.
Aadil Naik, one of Xyra’s first customers who bought more than four units in the last three months, said the key to success is usability. “I took two portable chargers to Ladakh for 10 days, one Anker and the other Xyra, but used only the Powercard because of how handy it was. The other charger just stayed in my bag all through," he added.
At present, though, the founders are undecided on raising funds, and say they are in no hurry to change the product line or diversify in the near future.
Jaideep Mehta, vice-president and managing director of research firm International Data Corp. and an active member of the Indian Angel Network, said the portable charger space will “grow aggressively in the short term, but might face some challenges on the way".
“Batteries of smartphones don’t usually keep up with technology advancements and feature upgrades. So a mobile charging kit becomes essential to carry. The only problem that new companies in this space might face are branding and trust issues, and distribution," he added.