By GREGORY ZELLER //
A regional rookie with major-league aspirations – literally – has teamed up with a heavy-hitting innovation all-star to knock its next-gen “power hubs” out of the park.
Actually, into the park.
Hoplite Power, a Long Island City-based startup and client of Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubation Program, has enlisted the help of Hauppauge-based product-design expert Intelligent Product Solutions – specifically, IPS President Mitch Maiman – as it prepares to roll out its next wave of Hoplite Hubs.
The smartphone-charging stations – featuring rent-and-return battery backs, which come and go from any Hub in the Hoplite network – are hitting their stride. The 2014 startup introduced its first handful of pilot machines to New York City bars and restaurants in 2017, snuck a new prototype into Citi Field at the end of the 2019 Major League Baseball season and figures to really circle the bases in 2020, when CEO Jordan Mayerson plans to install four Hoplite Hubs at the home of the New York Mets.
The four Citi Field Hubs are “in production,” Mayerson told Innovate LI, and Hoplite has its runners in motion. The startup is already in discussions with management at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, according to the CEO, and is eyeing other spaces with large pedestrian populations, including shopping malls.
“We’ve learned through our pilot program that people love the convenience of our rentable, on-demand battery packs, so they never have to worry about charging their phones,” the CEO said. “Now we plan to roll out our next-generation product in sports arenas, shopping malls and other venues, where they provide the same Hoplite convenience in bigger spaces and for more people.”
Such plans will require expanded manufacturing capabilities – Mayerson, chief technologist Nikolas Schreiber and the rest of the Hoplite Power team have basically built the prototypes in house, from scratch (with a nod to IPS, which helped smooth out the original design).
To that end, the startup is also talking up “a few domestic manufacturers,” Mayerson said, including one based on Long Island and one in Vermont. The company’s initial production needs will be modest – Hoplite will aim for 40 or fewer Hubs to start – but this “next level of business” will require an experienced hand, according to the CEO.
Enter IPS President Maiman, who officially joined the Hoplite Power Advisory Board in December. The founder of the longtime Long Island product designer – and now subsidiary of Florida-based global distributor Forward Industries – joins the Hoplite team specially to consult on “future product development and general manufacturing strategy,” Mayerson noted.
“Realistically, he brings legitimacy,” the CEO added. “Being first-time founders with a high-tech hardware, this helps to further the conversation with manufacturers and investors.”
For IPS, which was acquired by Forward Industries in 2018, a green light to swing away on user-interface and general design/performance issues is always welcome – especially when the pitch is right in that innovation sweet spot, according to Maiman.
“It is very rewarding to continue working with Hoplite Power as they move into this next phase of their business,” he said Thursday. “And to bring our manufacturing expertise to their next-generation product.”