Say watt? New Halifax business creates phone-charging station for drained public

Haley Ryan, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - A new Halifax business is hoping to enlighten those wandering around with dead cell phones and show them what’s watt.

Ken Leccese, from left, Pascal deVillers and Ben Lynds of Free2Charge, a new free mobile charging business, pose next to their station in the Casino Nova Scotia.

Twenty-something friends Pascal deVillers, Ben Lynds and Ken Leccese recently launchedFree2Charge, where they create and provide mobile charging stations to places like Casino Nova Scotia, music events, or other areas where people are waiting for long periods of time.

“A problem that everybody’s starting to have is dying batteries when they’re away from their car charger or their home charger,” deVillers said at their casino station Tuesday.

He said the idea began when he and Lynds noticed more and more people coming into their Telus store to charge their phones, especially since many now have large HD screens and quad-core processors that drain battery life.

The duo teamed up with Leccese and found an engineer to help draft a plan for their ideal station, which uses a locker system as well as open charging where you can stand next to the machine and use one of three common cords, including ones for iPhones and micro-USB devices.

“We’ve got a few connections within the fabrication world, but the rest of it was assembled right at our … homes,” Leccese said about turning the “raw steel frame” into a useable machine.

“It was a learning curve every day, that’s for sure.”

Lynds said they can afford to the keep it free by selling advertising on the station’s large screen, or leasing the machines to businesses who don’t want to use ads and for big events.

Although Rogers offers charging stations at the Metro Centre, and many Canadian and international companies offer stations for purchase, the trio is confident their model will take off thanks to its “high quality” and free locker system where you leave a loonie deposit and walk away while your phone charges.

They are expecting to roll out 10 stations around HRM by the end of the summer, would like to see a network of 500 machines in the region over the next three to five years, and ultimately have a major company use their design.

“We see most of our friends … heading out west to make it big and we’re looking to try and stay home and make Halifax kind of pop off with this new technology,” said Lynds.

“Our roots are here,” added deVillers. “We’d like to roll this venture out right here in Atlantic Canada and see where it takes us.”

Organizations: Telus, Metro Centre

Geographic location: Casino Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada

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