Becoming a major power in the charging industry

CEO Gonzalez, 32, has InCharged rolling with big-name clients

Meg Fry//January 11, 2016

Becoming a major power in the charging industry

CEO Gonzalez, 32, has InCharged rolling with big-name clients

Meg Fry//January 11, 2016

When Starbucks introduced wireless charging last year at its stores, vendors in the charging solutions industry were worried that the coffee chain might soon use that technology at its own events.
Jessica Gonzalez didn’t bat an eye, knowing firsthand that wouldn’t be the case.

“One of their (local) ad agencies reached out to us to provide charging solutions for an internal event that they were having,” she said.

In that particular instance, Starbucks leased roughly 30 units. While that may seem like a smaller order, it paid for all of the units InCharged had in its inventory and all of the R&D costs associated with the product.

Typical deals right now range between 10 to 50 units each, said Gonzalez, founder and CEO of InCharged.

But the custom branded charging solutions provider in Union plans to use this year to change that — with Gonzalez, a rarity in the tech space as a 32-year old female entrepreneur, at the helm.

The company is just the latest endeavor for Gonzalez. One that is far removed from where she started when she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in advertising design.

Gonzalez began her entrepreneurial career by founding Adopt a Creative, a creative development agency for graphics and website solutions. She later served as creative director for the Linden-based startup iBeverage Group.

“I was creating ads for billboards and commercials, basically, advertising that doesn’t give back, and I thought, if advertisers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these, why wouldn’t they spend it on giving something back to the audience they’re trying to target?” Gonzalez said.

Her next entrepreneurial idea was born.

Now, she needed capital.

“I didn’t want to put together a business plan because I felt as if I spent all my time trying to get investor money, I would miss the curve,” Gonzalez said. “So I worked four jobs at one point, saved up my money and financed the company myself.”

Gonzalez also knew that founding InCharged in 2011 would require a learning curve.

Millennial mindset
While it’s highly unusual for a tech startup to be founded and run by a woman, it’s no surprise that everyone at InCharged is under age 40.
“Our business is very much run by our employees,” said Jessica Gonzalez, founder and CEO of InCharged. “People move in and out of different roles and tasks. … As long as the goals that we are trying to accomplish are met and I know that you’re working hard, you have the freedom to set your own hours.”
Gonzalez included.
“When life moves from 9 to 5, it gets a lot more bunched up,” she said. “When I can wake up, go to the gym, check my email, work on my computer for an hour and then go into (the office) at my pace without the traffic and stress, I can work and learn for 12 hours straight without a problem.”
It’s her millennial team that motivates her to work so hard.
“Our staff feels very family-oriented so I feel like it’s part of my job to not let them down,” Gonzalez said. “They push me to be able to give them better opportunities. That’s really what makes this venture worth it.”

“My dad had me build a clock when I was 11 — that’s as far as my tech background goes,” she said. “You just figure it out. It’s the same thing with business. You find people who know what they’re doing and are better than you at certain things to help you build what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Gonzalez put together a team of seven employees that now pre-brand, design and assemble all InCharged products in-house.

“Everything just works better when you are able to build only what you need to,” she said. “We learn through client feedback and change our products accordingly. So we don’t build hundreds — we build 25, 50, 75 at a time so that we can alter according to feedback and changing technology.”

InCharged products are designed to make the company a one-stop shop for all cell phone charging and connectivity needs.

For example, its flagship product — the InFuse Flex kiosk — is the thinnest, lightest, fastest freestanding cell phone charging kiosk on the market, with a color monitor for media advertising and 20 square feet of branding space.

“This unit takes about three to five minutes to assemble,” Gonzalez said. “The client plugs it in, their media populates and it’s ready to charge.”

But if a company isn’t ready to pay $8,000 for InCharged’s top package (with all possible configurations), it could opt for the Inbox — a smaller, more mobile tabletop or mounted unit for less than a quarter of the price — or the PowerMethod, another small tabletop unit with various charging capabilities that starts at $175.

“The PowerMethod was developed after being at a major festival and seeing that people also needed to charge GoPro cameras, lanterns and more,” Gonzalez said. “Clients can plug in and charge anything they want if they have the adapter, or they can use one of the cables provided.”

Biz in brief
Company: InCharged
Executive: Jessica Gonzalez, founder and CEO
Headquarters: Union
Founded: 2011
Estimated revenue: $900,000 last year
Employees: Seven
One more thing: Jessica Gonzalez gives a lot of credit to her right-hand man and director of creative services/sales, Michael Seminerio, 23, for working with her since she founded Adopt a Creative. “I met Michael five years ago when he was just starting college and needed a part-time job,” Gonzalez said. “Since then, he’s stuck with me from job to job, even taking on the work I needed to farm out to him while I was working on InCharged.”

Major clients such as Audible, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Verizon, T-Mobile, American Express, ESPN, Volkswagen and more — in pretty much every industry from music and entertainment to airlines and all that’s in between — optioned to purchase or lease multiple InCharged units for large events.

Now, InCharged is looking to expand its wireless charging capabilities and strategic partnerships within the cellphone and electronics markets.

“We’re looking into creating charging stations that are also Wi-Fi hot spots,” Gonzalez said. “That means we have to find partners who already have the infrastructure and team up with them to offer that solution.”

Building relationships is just one of Gonzalez’s many goals in 2016.

Named as Top 25 honoree of the group Leading Women Entrepreneurs last year, she also wants to help empower women to start their own businesses, too.

“It’s lonely in the startup and tech industry when you go into a room of all men and you’re one of the only females there,” Gonzalez said.

That hasn’t stopped her from barreling toward her goal.

“I’ve always had this dream of being on the Inc. 5000, but you have to make $2 million to get there,” Gonzalez said.

InCharged is not far off — with an estimated revenue of $900,000 in 2015, Gonzalez and her team have projected $1.5 million this year.

That might be rather conservative.

“What we’re trying to do in 2016 is revisit our past clients to further the conversation,” Gonzalez said. “For the last three years, we’ve been focused on building a better, solid product before we revisited big brands such as Google or Starbucks with greater pitches. But 2016 is the year that we focus the majority of our efforts on sales and building our business — it will be an exciting year for us.”

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