Charging along for new Noosa business venture
THE one thing missing in Noosa entrepreneur James Hay’s business plan was plane loads of tourists right across the nation ready to plug into his Charge Buddy service.
And if you happen to have a few million dollars in venture capital laying around waiting for the next big thing, he’d love to hear from you.
Right now he’s looking to establish a network of outlets for his smart phone app system which allows anyone with mobile about to run flat, to quickly recharge the battery while you sit in local cafe and soak up the hospitality.
And the arrival of the first interstate flights on the Sunshine Coast today may just help power up his plans for getting Charge Buddy well and truly off the ground and, well … charging along.
James has already installed a trial Buddy Charge station at Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore as well as in DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) stores in Brisbane, and next week will place others on the Gold Coast including Pacific Fair.
For now, no one has really heard of his phone recharge system in Australia, but James said similar systems are everywhere including local 7-Elevens in Asia and cheap as chips to use.
“So people are just used to it, whereas in Australia they’ve never seen it,” he said.
And in the United Kingdom he said there are about 3000 charge stations with one company attracting about three million pounds in venture capital.
The canny Scots businessman, who studied accounting and finance at the University of Aberdeen and has lived in Noosa since 2004, hopes his idea is a sleeper waiting to sweep the country post COVID-19.
He and a fellow Noosa business partner stumbled onto this idea for when travelling in China looking for some business inspiration.
“I used to have a company in Noosa that sold lasers for hair removal,” James said.
“I sold the business six years ago and went travelling around the world and then came back to Australia and I wasn’t about to sit round playing golf.
“We only came across it by chance because my phone was down to 15 per cent … one of the people we were with went up to this box, scanned it and out popped this power bank and by the end of dinner my phone was charged,” he said.
James was struck by its wow factor and was surprised once back in Australia to discover that it was nowhere to be found.
“So in January I started this project developing this app and we literally put our first one (battery charger) in Sunshine Plaza last week and now we’re looking to expand from here,” he said.
“Noosa is a good place just to get a little network happening.
“I’m looking for about half a dozen places in Noosa. It’s really for that exposure to tourists because tourists are more likely to use it than locals, because no one needs to charge their phone during the day locally,” James said.
The first step is to download the Charge Buddy app, which shows where all the charge stations are even navigates users there.
“You go to the machine, scan the code and out pops a power bank and you can return that to any other charging station in Australia,” James said.
“It’s going to cost you $2.50 to rent the power bank and if you lose the power bank it costs you 30 bucks.
“The reason you need an app for this is because if you just did it as a normal vending machine, there’s no security and people aren’t going to take the power bank back,” he said.
He said the app also tells him how many power banks there are in any machine, how charged they are and how often they have been used.
He said participating outlets operate on 50-50 split of the takings and receive their own app to monitor the performance on the machines, and they can withdraw their own money from the machine.
Those interest in looking at how the system works can go to this You Tube link https://youtu.be/fQ6T4zRsXq0 to see a short video shot at Noosaville’s Land & Sea Brewery.
The Charge Buddy website is: www.chargebuddy.com.au