You’re on the run all day. From event to event, meeting to meeting, or maybe, you just really like using your smartphone. And that’s the rub isn’t it? Androids and iPhones are great until the battery dies. Then they’re reduced to a fancy paperweight.
That’s why Dan Salcedo founded Everpurse along with his wife, Liz. She needed a way to keep her phone charged no matter where she was and he set off to make it happen and along the way they reached $300,000 in their first shipment of orders.
“My wife is a medical social worker and she would drive around Chicago all day long working with families,” Salcedo says. “She was always in need of battery and I asked her what can I do to fix this?”
Salcedo, who is of Colombian descent and has experience with his previous startup, the successful Mobcart, immediately “tore a whole bunch of products into their components” to figure out how to make her a purse that charges a phone. The product is now on version 19 and Salcedo notes that his wife helped bring the project home and made the technology work with fashion.
“I’ve been a geek my whole life,” Salcedo says, explaining how he was able to create EverPurse. But he credits work he did with his father, an engineer, using small robotic machines, in allowing someone with an economist background to build technology that works.
The purse works through inductive coils, which are “super low frequency magnetic waves (similar in frequency to gravity) that get reconstructed into an electric current that charges the battery.” A docking mechanism uses gravity to then guide the phone and physically connect it to your smartphone.
The next step after making working prototypes was putting the project on Kickstarter, which allows entrepreneurs to crowdfund, or raise money from people interested in seeing products go from conception to reality. Their goal was to raise $100,000 — which they reached in a week. Eventually they would raise $238,000 by October. But Salcedo says the success of Everpurse wasn’t a stroke of luck.
“We were not fishing in the dark,” he says, crediting a campaign of “sneak previews” to tech sites and effective public relations targeting with building buzz. “It sounds like an overnight success but we were working on it for quite a while.”
Now Salcedo is working on the production for the $300,000 in orders, which should ship early in March. He says the orders are from 2,000 people in 34 countries with the U.S. at number one and Japan coming in second. A major goal for him is to have most of his components for Everpurse made in the U.S.A.
“That’s a big part of this,” Salcedo says. “We’re purchasing some from China, but it’s a small portion.” He says this is important for him because he believes in a fundamental shift in the global marketplace. “Innovation in the U.S. is going to lead to a coming manufacturing revolution that will be a lot more local than it has been.” Nothing beats meeting with people face to face and working through problems together, he says.
Salcedo did work with his early companies in Silicon Valley but returned to his roots in Chicago for Everpurse.
“If you’re a painter you go study in Paris but that doesn’t mean it’s where you will make your best art.” he says.
Salcedo was also recently named to Chicago’s diversity tech council started by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and talked about the importance of Latinos in tech.
“There’s a big tension on the question of whether good business is diverse business,” he says. “But I believe it is, because without diversity you don’t get different ideas and different sorts of innovation. People solve problems in different ways and it’s important to have people from many socioeconomic backgrounds.”
With the success of Everpurse, Salcedo already knows what people will want to know. — what about a product made especially for men, in the way Everpurse is made for women?
“We continue to do research and will release a few more more things in the coming year to address other groups,” he says, adding that a product for men is coming.
“There are a lot of jokes out there, like Everpocket,” he says.