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AnkerBox: The Startup Charging Seattle

“The size of a toaster,” AnkerBox is designed to provide hassle-free, cheap charging when you need it.
by Diego Anell, Columbia
Venturing downtown and exploring New York City is always one of the best things to do on a weekend, but having a dead phone certainly isn’t. Carrying around a phone charger would be convenient if there were outlets everywhere you go, and while portable chargers are slowly starting to become a thing, they’re often clunky and not as portable as you’d like them to be.

Meet AnkerBox. AnkerBox, a division of the battery charging company Anker, is hoping to make sure you’re never stuck with a dead phone. Users download the app, locate a nearby AnkerBox (about the size of a toaster), rent the charger until no longer needed, and then return the charger at any AnkerBox location. This model is very similar to a bike-share system (like NYC’s very own CitiBike). The first 30 minutes are free, and it’s $1.99 to rent for the whole day. Available for now only in Seattle, AnkerBox is quickly growing and is looking to expand to other regions soon.

“The size of a toaster,” AnkerBox is designed to provide hassle-free, cheap charging when you need it.

“The size of a toaster,” AnkerBox is designed to provide hassle-free, cheap charging when you need it.

Ben Grossman, the Marketing Manager at AnkerBox, explains that Anker wanted to take advantage of the recent trend in “sharing” economies:

“We wanted to take Anker’s content portable and test that idea with the sharing economy — in this case, with the power-sharing economy. The demand for phone battery outpaces the use of that battery so we thought,why not provide on-demand phone chargers? Everyone at the end of the day has been stuck with low battery. There’s nothing worse than being disconnected. We want to make sure that your battery never dies and reduce that anxiety that a dying phone gives.”

Power-sharing is certainly a high-growth space to enter into — Starbucks at one point tried to introduce powermats, but AnkerBox is different in that it is truly portable. You can rent the charger and take it with you somewhere else, unlike having to sit at Starbucks while you wait for your phone to charge. When asked about competition, Ben says that the competitive space is quite new.

“We have one company in San Francisco called Doblet. They have a very similar model, but the difference is that they charge a monthly rate.”

During his previous role as Product Marketing Manager, Ben took on many hats. While focusing primarily on marketing solutions for AnkerBox — “some of it on the product side,” he recalls — Ben also filled any other role that fell under marketing, including PR, sales, ideal customer segments, branding, logos, and creative content.

“I signed before we even knew where our offices were!”

Ben Grossman, CC’13 and Marketing Manager at Anker

Ben Grossman, CC’13 and Marketing Manager at Anker

While Ben is enjoying his time at AnkerBox, he notes that wearing all these hats can certainly be demanding, especially when it involves something that he lacks expertise. “At the end of the day you’re marketing a product,” Ben says, “so it’s crucial to provide the right feedback to the product developers so they can target the product to address the ideal customer needs and make it a market fit.”

But even with these difficulties, running a startup is a rewarding experience for Ben. His favorite part of the job is seeing someone go out and use AnkerBox.

“It’s really cool to see your product in the hands of other people. You get to know that your efforts led them to the moment where 

they decided to use your product.”