Written by Khalid Alzubi
ChargeItSpot, the industry leader in free and secure public phone charging stations in retail stores and public venues, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this month. With the failure rate among startups towering at 90%, this impressive milestone puts the company amongst the small percentage of those that have successfully crossed a decade.
Founding and leading a company for 10 years is no small feat. It takes a resilient leader with a focused, strategic vision to scale a small business through a global pandemic, a “retail apocalypse,” and a massive supply chain crisis.
On this momentous occasion, ChargeItSpot Founder and CEO, Douglas Baldasare, sat down to reflect on his startup’s 10-year journey. In our interview below, Baldasare shares some of his most memorable moments as an entrepreneur, his outlook on the future of ChargeItSpot, and his advice for other entrepreneurs looking to form a business that can beat the odds.
ChargeItSpot has had tremendous success since its inception 10 years ago, in 2012. Was there a pivotal moment for your business, or a notable win that sticks out in your mind?
2022 has actually been a pretty pivotal year. The trajectory we’re on definitely sticks out in my mind as a paradigm shift in our business. We recently created a new solution called ARC, which takes some of our patents and core competencies from our public phone charging product, and applies them to client-owned, corporate handheld devices.
This shift occurred when a large retailer asked us to solve a problem that has been troubling their industry for many years. That problem was the loss, breakage, and general mismanagement of company-owned phones and tablets in all of their stores and warehouses.
We began looking into this request, and surprisingly, when we started pulling on that thread, we quickly found that nearly every client we spoke with was having the same issues of constantly buying and repairing their devices.
We actually went on to discover that about 25% of employee devices are lost or stolen each year due to poor device management. Seeing how ubiquitous this problem really was, and the potential we had as a company to address this need, it felt like we had struck gold.
After years of charging people’s personal devices, we’re now manufacturing new modular hardware that can organize and manage thousands of devices at scale.
It’s not often a company is able to survive, let alone continue to thrive and grow for as long as ChargeItSpot. What are you most excited about as ChargeItSpot enters its second decade?
It’s gotta be the prospect of ARC and solving a massive problem that is widespread across various industries. We’re seeing blatant pain points across our ongoing client discovery. We know our technology can really solve this problem in a comprehensive way that will save companies time, money, and improve operational efficiency and productivity.
ARC seems to be a product that can totally revolutionize the way multiple industries run their business. What aspect of ARC’s technology do clients seem most excited about?
We’ve been continually checking in with our clients, specifically those in the pilot phase, to gauge proof of concept and gain valuable feedback. What they seem most excited about overall is finally having visibility into what’s going on with their devices: where their devices are, tracking and understanding how devices might be getting lost or broken.
Even the employees that actually use the devices on a daily basis seem ecstatic at the fact that they will no longer have to scrap around to grab a device once their shift starts. We’ve heard stories of departments in retail stores hiding devices from coworkers just to make sure they don’t have to worry about finding one themselves.
We’re seeing these kinds of patterns emerge across stores and employees and the data that ARC provides is giving out a lot of insights that help our clients better manage their investment in mobile technologies.
What has been your favorite moment so far running ChargeItSpot and leading your team?
A few years back, we struck a huge breakthrough deal with a really big client. While that in itself was really great, what stuck with me even more was being able to share that success with the team. I surprised the whole team with cash bonuses and floor tickets to see U2 together as a team. The night was one that the team still talks about today, and for me, that moment wasn’t just about a big win for the company, but it was a testament to the tireless efforts of a dedicated team, and to them being able to celebrate the fruits of their labor.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Focus on the problem you’re solving. Really think about the pain points that you’re trying to get rid of and obsessively talk to your end users. You have to understand people’s frustrations and gauge how committed or likely they would be to using your solution to solve them. That is what I’ve found to be the essence of entrepreneurship and the quicker you can focus that vision down to its core, the more success you’ll find in the earlier stages of your business.
ChargeItSpot has a lot to look forward to as it reaches its 10 year mark and Doug’s insights shed light on a lot of the wisdom he’s accumulated over the past ten years running the company. While a decade may seem like a long time in a startup’s life, the best may be yet to come for ChargeItSpot, and it is clear that the future is bright.
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