At the bustling Mobile World Congress trade show, Branco Calleja Garcia stands in a tiny booth, grinning. Next to him is a tallish object that looks like a metal tree, with cellphone charging cables sticking out of the middle. “It was interesting to make!” he says.
The tree thing is a model outdoor charging station, designed for any place people need to quickly give their mobile phones a little extra juice. Think concert venues, or college campuses.
It’s Calleja Garcia’s best prototype of that model—and his only one. His company, Yup!Charge, has just 10 employees, a finite amount of resources, and big plans for mobile invention.
Garcia co-founded Barcelona-based Yup!Charge in 2007 with his sister, Maria Calleja. At the time “I worked in banking. I didn’t like it very much,” he says with a smile.
Inventing things was much more fun, says Garcia. In its seven years in business, Yup!Charge has launched several successful mobile charging devices. One popular model: chargers that restaurants and bars place on tables, allowing patrons to charge their devices while they eat and drink.
The Calleja siblings are working on new features, such as apps that allow you to order food from your table. And they’re also constantly brainstorming ideas for new mobile products like the outdoor charging station.
One of their goals is to make their products easy for venue owners to use. The “leaves” of the outdoor station are solar panels, allowing it be installed almost anywhere sunny. Alternately, it can be powered by a turbine placed in a nearby water pipe. “It’s 100% green,” Calleja Garcia says.
They’re also trying to make sure their products are based on the latest and best technologies. At Mobile World Congress, for example, Calleja Garcia met with Qualcomm to discuss implementation of Qualcomm Quick Charge technology (a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.).
All this invention is a lot of work, but it’s very satisfying work, he says. “We want to be a leader.”