As an entrepreneur, Desmond Wiggan relies heavily on his cellphone. Nowadays, who doesn’t? That’s why a dying battery is a no-go.
Wiggan and his co-founder Aubrey Yeboah developed a prototype for BatteryXchange, a product and platform that allows cellphone users to rent portable batteries. Think of battery kiosks that would be available at retail locations, restaurants, breweries and activities like festivals, concerts and sporting events. It’s an idea that netted the 29-year-old $10,000 during City Startup Labs’ annual pitch competition. More than 100 companies have already expressed interest.
“I thought about areas or atmospheres where individuals like myself run into dead or low batteries,” said Wiggan, a graduate of Winston-Salem State University. “It made sense for us to place our kiosk machines in those locations to be a solution for those times when they run into inconvenient situations.”
From idea to business
The idea for BatteryXchange came to life during a stay in China, where Wiggan was completing his MBA in international business. On a night out, he had his own experience with a nearly dead battery.
“We ended up seeing a concept that worked over there. Me being in technology, I had access to seeing what was next,” he said.
It was an opportunity to bring a similar service to America.
Last year, Wiggan was selected as one of 11 African American entrepreneurs to participate in City Startup Labs’ six-month accelerator program. He credits the program for cultivating his business acumen.
“They helped us answer questions that we didn’t even know we needed to ask ourselves. It allowed us to grow and push ourselves as business people,” he said.
City Startup Labs’ executive director Henry Rock said starting a company is probably one of the hardest things anyone can do. He noted that BatteryXchange was one of the more interesting ideas he’d seen.
“Aside from the uniqueness of the idea, I was impressed with his drive and determination and also willingness to be coached. That’s an important component in the work that we do,” said Rock. “I think he’s a great asset to not only City Startup Labs, but I think that once his vision is executed that we’ll hear a lot of good things coming from Desmond.”
And that’s a wrap! Congratulations to our Class of 2018 for six months of HARD work – now the real work begins. Go out into the community 🌎 and show what you have to offer! We’ll be in your corner every step of the way. HUGE shoutout to our grand winner of TEN THOUSAND dollars @worldwidewiggs_ of @batteryxchangeinc 👏🔋#csldemoday
Wiggan sees BatteryXchange “making it” not only in the states, but also around the world. Wiggan is of Jamaican descent and Yeboah is Ghanaian. Both entrepreneurs have STEM programming experience in Charlotte, Washington D.C., the Caribbean and Africa.
“Our social responsibility is just as important to where we want to be on the capital side of this company,” Wiggan said.
He intends to use the $10,000 prize money to further develop the kiosks while still searching for investors. Wiggan foresees crowdfunding being plausible in the near future.
“In the next few months, we’ll iterate our technology to where we can leave it in locations 24/7. Right now we’re trying to figure out how to get more supply,” said Wiggan. “I want other entrepreneurs around the nation to get a part of this, allowing African Americans and [other] individuals that aren’t accredited investors to potentially get a piece of what we’re doing.”
Jonathan Limehouse is a journalist whose passion is to find good and impactful stories. He’s an avid sports fan who can be found at numerous sporting events around Charlotte.