Crash, then pivot

Gabrielle Saulsbery//August 23, 2021

Crash, then pivot

Gabrielle Saulsbery//August 23, 2021

Jessica Gonzalez’s business tanked in 2020.

Her company InCharged, based in Newark, sets up branded cell phone charging stations at music festivals, trade shows, and other large-scale events, and those things just weren’t happening last year.

“Our event tech company was obliviated, basically bankrupt,” she said. “And then we pivoted, and that’s what gave us such growth in the last six months of the 2020.”

InCharged grew 178% year over year from 2019 to 2020 by pivoting to disinfection technology, developing electrostatic sprayers, which apply disinfectant to surfaces; UV-C towers, which use ultraviolet light to achieve medical grade disinfection surrounding the machine; and disinfection cabinets, which use the same UV-C light to disinfect what’s put inside of it.

The disinfection technology subsidiary LuxDisinfect, and its up-and-coming vending technology company VendX, pushed InCharged to No. 210 on NJBIZ Top 250 Privately Held Companies list with $3.89 million in revenue for 2020.

Jessica Gonzalez, CEO, InCharged

“We build a slew of disinfection tech with the goal of helping small businesses reopen safely and affordably using the right technology,” she said. “There’s a lot of crap out there right now. We’re focused on medical-grade, hospital-grade technology that’s safe that can help people without using chemicals.”

Gonzalez herself isn’t a tech wizard. She went to school for advertising and design, and notes that she has no background in coding or anything, but that she’s good at “hiring really smart people.”

Before regaining ground with LuxDisinfect that she’d lost with her banner InCharged products, Gonzalez was named to the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commissionn, tasked with advising state leadership on economic matters affected by COVID-19.

“The good thing about being on the commission—I still don’t know how I got picked—was that my business was obliviated, so that gave me the opportunity to give my opinion as a struggling business,” Gonzalez said. “When I started pivoting my business, I was able to advise on technology that was hopefully able to help open businesses back up.”

As the delta variant of COVID-19 stirs up questions on a pandemic recovery timeline, Gonzalez’ diversified business has opportunities in any case.

“We had a massive pull with the disinfection line, and now that’s pulling back and events are coming back up. But it’s all changing with the variants,” she said. “Maybe Lux doesn’t have as many sales this month, but events are picking back up. We’re still trying to figure things out because the landscape has changed or everyone. We’re just trying to operate lean now and use data to kind of tell us where to go.”