- All Community
When the Everpurse Kickstarter project launched on Sunday night, a little ahead of schedule, founder and CEO Liz Ormesher Salcedo expected donations from her early supporters. “Within an hour, we were seeing backers outside of Chicago and outside of the U.S.,” she says. That was a surprise.
These unseen and unknown funders were clamoring to help Salcedo bring her iPhone-charging mini-purse into production. The Everpurse is simple to use: Rest the purse on a small charging pad that plugs into the wall. When ready, take the Everpurse out on the town and slip your iPhone into the patent-pending charging pocket. That’s it–no cords or connectors, just a special pocket that gives your phone extra battery life. According to Salcedo, the purse is small enough to fit inside another bag but attractive enough to take out on its own.
Photo via everpurse.com
It seems the simplicity of the idea has caught on. Less than four days since launching, Everpurse has over 400 backers and is more than 50 percent funded. The way things are going, it seems inevitable that the company will surpass its $100,000-in-31-days goal. Currently the technology only works with the iPhone 4 and 4S (though Salcedo is confident it will be compatible with the forthcoming iPhone 5 as well). She hopes to announce Android-charging versions before the campaign ends.
Salcedo said she came up with the idea while working as a social worker, which she did for five years after college. Her job required her to be on the go a lot, driving all over Chicago to meet patients. By the time she reached home each night, her phone would be dead or close to it, and she would often forget to charge it herself. Luckily, her husband, Dan, would remember to slip her phone out of her purse and onto the charger most nights.
For over a year, Salcedo and her husband (who she describes as “a serial technology entrepreneur and prototyping enthusiast”) worked on prototype after prototype. Last year they moved to Silicon Valley, where Dan’s company took part in an incubator program. Lured back by Chicago’s thriving startup scene, the two returned in June, and Salcedo left her day job to take Everpurse on full time.
I spoke with the first-time entrepreneur this morning. Here is an edited version of our conversation.
The fact that people are pursuing you [in the press], what does that tell you about your product?
Salcedo: I think it’s something that people have been waiting for for a long time. I know that there are a lot of devices out there that help people charge their phones...but there’s not anything that works so seamlessly. I think the thing people like is not only are the bags beautiful...there are so few steps that it makes it easier for people to adapt.
When did you realize the idea was more than just a product that could solve your own problems?
Salcedo: When you’re out to dinner with your family and friends and they ask to charge their phone in your purse, but even more when they start asking you to make one for them. I realized that it was something that wasn’t just solving problems that I had, it was a common problem.
Who was the engineer behind Everpurse?
Salcedo: Dan was the original engineer. He’s the kind of guy that built his own computer. Unbeknownst to me, he went out and bought all these components and was fiddling with it, and finally he made something work. It wasn’t the final product but it was definitely the right start.
In the simplest terms, how does Everpurse work?
Salcedo: The mat uses two coils, so conductive charging, to charge the bag. We’ve added other magnetic systems to increase the power. Inside the bag, there’s a receiver that takes in the power from the mat and there’s a battery system built inside so you don’t have to see it. It all connects to the pocket where you drop the phone in [which acts as a docking system].
You’re trying to raise $100,000. What will that allow you to do?
Salcedo: That will allow us to manufacture at wholesale. Right now, it’s pretty expensive to build the bags one by one. By being able to manufacture at higher units can really drive down the cost and makes it affordable. It also allows us to jumpstart manufacturing.
Any plans to expand to cover other products?
Salcedo: Definitely. We’ve looked into the possibility of having higher battery power built into the system. We’ve made the system modular so we can add extra battery life. We’ve also gotten a lot of requests for charging systems for men. We have also thought of the possibility of a charging blazer or pants pocket.
What Chicago-based resources have you drawn on to launch your company and work toward achieving your goals?
Salcedo: [Dan and I] have desks in the reserved space in 1871, and that has been a huge resource for us. There are tons of mentors and advisors there, and great workshops and events. The networking has been really important to us for referral to vendors.