These benches work as hotspots and chargers at the same time. Soon they will send weather alerts

Just before the launch of iPhone 7, a question appeared – how long will it be able to run without recharging. Let’s be honest, 1% battery or lack of Internet access press everyone’s buttons. SEEDiA, a Polish startup, has created a product that allows phone charging and provides wireless Internet.

The product itself is not obvious – it’s a bench working as hotspot, powered by solar panels and equipped with USB ports (own cable is required for charging), beacons and a battery.

For parks and for office spaces

SEEDiA is an original project by Piotr Hołubowicz, a 26-year-old engineer and a well-known startup activist Artur Racicki, founder of Social WiFi and CEO of Pozytywnie.pl, a digital agency.

Currently there are 2 bench models and a charging station available.

– The benches are eco-friendly – they utilize solar energy thus do not emit CO2. That’s one of the reasons cities and energy industry are highly interested in them, says Artur Racicki.

The first model is mostly for outdoor locations, equipped with a bike stand, while the second one is slender, meant for office spaces and shopping malls. Benches are ca. 1,5m long and 1,2m high, including special space for customer branding.

These solar products are made from both steel and wood. What is especially important, they are not prone to vandalism (solar panels are covered with safety glass), thieves (weighing over 100kg) and weather conditions.

– We are developing weather forecasting modules, measuring temperature, humidity and air pressure. Storm alerts are going to be displayed to provide additional comfort, says Piotr Hołubowicz.

New models are even going to be equipped with seat heaters for the winter. There will also be special OLED screens on their sides to display remotely changeable content such as ads.

These devices are produced in Bielsko-Biała.

– With average energy consumption, benches will be able to continuously work throughout the whole year, as in the winter less people tend to use them. Just in case, there’s an option to connect an additional battery. Our second model, Invention, is designed for indoor spaces. Sunlight is not that strong there, so they are permanently plugged in – the reason behind installing solar panels on them is to decrease power consumption, Hołubowicz adds.

Not only benches

SEEDiA is selling its products (not only benches, but also charging stations) to cities and retail venues.

Charging stations. Such futuristic design is utilized in new models of benches as well

10 benches ordered by RWE already

How did this fresh business get its first customer? Quite unusually. In 2016 Artur Racicki received an award for Social WiFi from the president of RWE for East-Central Europe region.

 

– Afterwards, we were taking part in a discussion panel. The presenter asked me about my short- and long-term plans. I replied that my short-term goal is to meet with the president of RWE. After the panel, the president approached me and told me he accepts the invitation. We were able to show him our first prototype back then, recounts Racicki.

 

Hołubowicz proposed Racicki a concept for using the benches as a new sales channel for Social WiFi. Racicki appreciated the idea and decided to work with him.

 

– The very first prototype was manufactured back in December 2015, in February I met with Artur – he ordered 2 more. On 8th June we signed documents to establish the company; a month after we were already producing commercially for our first customer, RWE, says Hołubowicz.

Business model

SEEDiA is monetizing its products through direct sales, prolonging servicing contracts, additional branding and personalization fees, as well as selling Social WiFi (annual payments). If a bench needs to be moved, the company will provide transportation for an additional fee. Among SEEDiA’s competitive advantages is pricing.

– We have 2 direct competitors – one based in the USA, the other in Croatia. Devices of the first one cost ca. 6,500USD. Similar installations can be seen in the streets of London – the so-called solar trees. There’s only 5 of them, each one costing tens of thousands of pounds; our benches cost far less. We are focusing on the mass market, says Hołubowicz.

Hołubowicz and Racicki will soon start searching for an investor.

– We were determined to start this business on our own, however taking into consideration our growth rate, we are going to need working capital. That is why we are planning to start collaborating with investors, announces Artur Racicki.

Source: Business Insider Polska

– Naszymi bezpośrednimi konkurentami są dwie firmy – jedna z USA, a druga z Chorwacji. Urządzenia tej pierwszej kosztują 6,5 tys. dol. Podobne instalacje można zobaczyć już m.in. na ulicach Londynu – to tzw. drzewa solarne, jest ich 5, jedna sztuka kosztuje jednak kilkadziesiąt tysięcy funtów, nasze ławki kosztują od 8 tys. do 12,5 tys. zł. Chcemy iść w rynek masowy – mówi Hołubowicz.

Wkrótce Hołubowicz i Racicki zaczną poszukiwania inwestora.

– Zależało nam bardzo, by zacząć ten biznes samodzielnie. Ale widzimy tempo rozwoju tego produktu, mamy świadomość, że będziemy potrzebowali kapitału obrotowego, dlatego w IV kwartale będziemy rozmawiać z inwestorami, by w przyszłym roku uzbroić się w kwotę, która pozwoli nam się dalej rozwijać – zapowiada Artur Racicki.

Żródło: Business Insider Polska

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