Dan Bladen CEO of Chargifi based at Workspace Chancery Lane will be one of the speakers at the Workspace Business Dinner. He tells us more about tech innovation, investment and finding partnerships.

Gone are the days when you’re looking at 2% battery charge on your smartphone wondering how long it’ll last. Workspace-based startup Chargifi has plans which mean that you’ll never run out of battery again.

The startup, which specialises in wireless charging for mobile phones, was launched in 2013 and moved into Workspace Chancery Lane in 2015.

Now, co-founder and CEO Dan Bladen, will be part of a panel for the Workspace Business Insight dinner on February 2nd, at Workspace Kennington Park. He’ll be speaking about innovation, listening to the customer, and turning this into business alongside Paul Gregory, Global Specification Director at Dyson, Ben Griffin, Innovate UK, digital knitwear designer, fashion tech blogger and co-director of Brooke Roberts Ltd, Brooke Roberts-Islam, and the chair of Tuesday's panel discussion, Benedict Sheppard, partner of McKinsey & Company.

We will be streaming the panel discussion from 6:15pm to 7:00pm via a Facebook Live broadcast on February 2nd. Find out more here.

In preparation for the event, we spoke to Dan about how a theology graduate ended up putting together some basic wireless charging equipment and raising £3.4m from investors.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I grew up in Suffolk, selling lawnmowers for my dad’s garden machinery company, playing with network components and building computers to sell to friends.

I’m a theology graduate and managed all the technology aspects for a £6.5m building project before starting Chargifi.

I’ve always been passionate about finding ways of using technology to solve everyday problems – I particularly enjoy connecting different technologies.

Dan Bladen, co-founder and CEO, Chargifi

 

I’m a Techstars alumni, serve on the leadership team of the Airfuel Alliance and live in Sussex with my wife and two small children. When not in the office or on a flight, I love to hang out in venues with fast WiFi, Antipodean coffee and convenient power!

Tell us about Chargifi

Chargifi is a wireless charging company founded in 2013. We are proud to work with organisations like Pret a Manger, Intel, The Clubhouse and the Imperial College, London.

It was three years between the idea and the launch date in 2015 - what were you doing during those three years?

We were founded in 2013.  Prior to this I was travelling with my wife from South America round to India. When I got back, I hacked together the first prototype of Chargifi and showed my co-Founder Charlie Cannell (Inflexion Private Equity); we were having lunch in Bond Street and he said: “Let’s do this”.

Chargifi in actionPassionate about wireless charging

 

Over this time we ran a whole host of experiments to determine what models and products would and wouldn’t work in the market. We also started strategic relationships with partners across multiple countries and industry sectors giving Chargifi an unprecedented reach and influence for a company our size.

You're about to start a partnership with Pret. How did that come about?

We had a direct introduction to Pret a Manger through one of our investors. We piloted with Pret in a couple of London locations and then, once we proved Chargifi’s value, have begun to roll out on a larger scale.

What are the benefits of Workspace?

We moved to Workspace in 2015. Before going into Workspace on Chancery Lane we had a small office just one street down in Bell Yard. It was a loft, at the top of 8 flights of stairs and directly above a dentist surgery - it was a great little first office for us but as we started to grow we knew we had to find a space with which we could start scaling our team.

We like the environment at Workspace Chancery Lane and the location is great for the team and close to many of our clients.

Dan Bladen, co-founder and CEO, Chargifi

 

We’re currently working on collaborating with Workspace themselves on something, so watch this space.

How are you funded?

To date, Chargifi has raised $3.4m from some great investors including Intel Capital, Techstars and R/GA Ventures.

Charlie introduced me to Streetcar founder Brett Akker who led Chargifi’s first round of angel investment in April 2014, which we completed just 18 hours before my first child was born!

Where do you see Chargifi in a year's time? In three years' time?

There has been an explosive growth in the market for wireless power, which is estimated to be worth $37.2bn by 2022, says the Business Wire Wireless Charing Market Report 2017, and there are rumours about more devices coming with wireless power in 2017.

At CES this year Dell announced it was to ‘cut the cord’ on laptops and introduced wireless charging for laptops. This heralds the start of being able to leave our laptop power-bricks at home and charge wirelessly in coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and in the office.

Chargifi is going to be at the centre of this growth. Our unique software first approach is able to demonstrate a tangible return on investment to venues for deploying wireless power.

How have you built your team and expanded the business?

Our product team includes engineering, design and user experience, making up half of the total workforce. We’re only as good as our latest product release and the way in which we serve our clients.

This means that we have to invest a lot of time building relationships and learning about our customer and partners needs to make sure that we are building products that can provide real value.

Charge where you likeDan and his team are based at Quality Court

 

Your business is based on one innovation... How do you plan to stay innovative?

Listening to clients and constantly networking in our industry is key to identify the places in which we can add most value.

Dan Bladen, co-founder and CEO, Chargifi

 

As a team we are also a naturally curious group! We are constantly reading and sharing thoughts and insights.

At the start of this year we actually created a #BookClub channel in Slack to share our latest learnings. For example; if I’m reading a book on Artificial Intelligence - I’ll recommend it to the team in our #BookClub channel, summarise any key take-aways and then the team can use that basic understanding to start forming their own ideas about the AI space and how Chargifi might be able to utilise AI to improve our products.

We’re also really fortunate to be an Intel Capital portfolio company, benefitting from their expertise and insights. The same is true of Techstars and R/GA - where we are able to benefit and share in the learnings from other portfolio companies.

In your Telegraph piece, you said: 'It’s critical for any entrepreneur or innovator to have a vision of the future, but not lose sight of the importance of being a good day-to-day leader. When starting up, you need to be bold and declare what, why and how your company is going to change the world. This attracts people to your vision. The leadership side of this is also about being sensitive enough to understand where your customer fits into that vision.'

How do you practically make sure you lead decisively while remaining flexible?

Great question! I think it comes from a clear understanding of how all the pieces of your business fit together. Scaling a mountain is nothing more than navigating a route, and making one step after another. If you’re able to translate to your team (and yourself!) why each step takes you closer to that vision then I think you’re able to hold both the long term vision and the day-to-day in unison.

All of this has to be underpinned by core values about why we’re doing this and whom we’re doing this for.

When you look at bigger companies like Dyson, what inspires you in how they stay innovative?

Dyson are obviously a great example of British innovation completely transforming a market.

Dan Bladen, co-founder and CEO, Chargifi

 

Dyson are clearly a visionary company, the very fact James Dyson went on to form Dyson after having his technology rejected by every large vacuum company in the world speaks about the conviction Dyson have about the products they build.

I think it’s this conviction about their core technology and vision as well as the vision that they have to utilise this by branding out into other markets (hand dryers/fans etc) is a testament to a great founder being able to spot gaps in the market that his technology can take advantage of.

Workspace Business Insight Dinners are organised in collaboration with Knowledge Peers. They are designed to be an interesting mix of ‘live’ case studies of senior directors from New and Growing Companies who have encountered a relevant challenge, together with Q&A with industry experts. Directors, founders and other senior leaders from customers across Workspace’s portfolio are invited to attend this complimentary event. Please find out more here.

For those that cannot attend, we will be streaming the panel discussion from 6:15pm to 7:00pm via a Facebook Live broadcast. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information. For those that cannot attend, we will be streaming the panel discussion from 6:15pm to 7:00pm via a Facebook Live broadcast. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information. Find out more here.

Follow @workspacegroup and @knowledgepeers for up-to-date information.