Sometimes having a successful startup is all about being in the right place at the right time. For BatteryXchange CEO and co-founder, Desmond Wiggan, that rings especially true. Not only was his passion paramount to his success, but his ability to adapt and identify areas of untapped opportunity were also important factors.
It wasn’t until August 2018 that BatteryXchange became an idea. Now, the company already brought its first prototype to market with expressed interest from over 100 Charlotte-area companies.
How could a six-month-old company have this level of success?
A Series of Unexpected Events
The answer lies in an unexpected series of events. Starting out working in the leadership development program at Pepsi, Wiggan soon climbed the ladder to a management role as a key account manager.
“It got to the point where I was saying, you know, I’m third-generation entrepreneur,” Wiggan recalls. “My grandpa was an entrepreneur, my dad came over from Jamaica and was a financial entrepreneur. I knew that was going to be my calling, but I wanted to learn first from the corporate world.”
And he did just that. While at Pepsi, Wiggan tackled every aspect of running a business from marketing and finance to human resources and operations. Armed with this experience, he was ready to create a legacy of his own.
“BatteryXchange wasn’t my first time going into the startup world,” Wiggan admits. “I always wanted to get back to Jamaica and the Caribbean, and I had a fintech application that was a more efficient way to save and invest. But I had to be down there and I couldn’t make that move right away.”
Wiggan calls his inability to commit a “blessing in disguise.” Because he chose to stay in America, he entered an MBA program that allowed him to study overseas in China — the birthplace of BatteryXchange.
The Right Place and Time
While in China, Wiggan reconnected with fellow student, Aubrey Yeboah, who was also in the MBA program at Winston-Salem State University. The program focused on transitioning American companies to more economic manufacturing solutions in China.
During their studies, the two went out for a night of fun before an 8 a.m. flight would place them back in Charlotte.
“It was 3 a.m. and his phone was completely dead and mine was at 5 percent,” Wiggan remembers. “We were searching around for a charger and we found this bar with portable batteries you could rent.”
The two were amazed by this simple yet revolutionary idea. They recognized the missed opportunity for a similar service in America, keeping everyone from millennials to business owners to stay-at-home moms connected to the world around them. Not only this, but the idea’s larger potential to bring energy solutions to third-world countries spoke to Wiggan’s desire to go back to his roots in Jamaica.
But after spending so much time in China, the pair had a dwindling network waiting at home. It was time to start reaching out and building a team.
Working the Network
Building the right team proved to be challenging, but Wiggan and Yeboah were determined to make it happen.
“We got into an accelerator program with City Startup Labs,” says Wiggan. “We wanted to ask ourselves the questions we hadn’t figured out yet so we could be ready for bigger events.”
It wasn’t until Seed the South in January 2019 that they spoke about BatteryXchange publicly. Wiggan feels the reason for their buy-in success is twofold: they’re regular product users and have the full-time availability to dedicate to its development.
“I know how efficient it is because I use it,” Wiggan says. “I know how fast the batteries charge my phone, and I’ve even given it to friends to track data. Now we’re going to pilot and get customer feedback so we can build the features that are most convenient and applicable to them.”
Charging Towards the Future
With his concept rapidly taking off, Wiggan has his eyes set on the future.
“Scaling is obviously the biggest thing,” he says. “We look at tackling Charlotte in the next few months and then going to Greensboro, Durham, and Raleigh. It’s really just about identifying what’s successful here and trying to duplicate it in other cities.”
Wiggan is the only full-time member of BatteryXchange, with part-time co-founder Yeboah keeping the self-funding alive. However, as the product takes off, they have real plans to build out a full-time staff. Their product will be available at Heist Brewery and Camp North End in the Queen City.
As the team prepares for 2019, Wiggan thinks back to the importance of his decision to fully invest his time into his idea.
“If you have the opportunity to sacrifice a few months to get your startup to a certain point, do it,” Wiggan encourages. “I always shout-out to my wife and getting her on board for what the next few months would be like — she fully got my vision.”
But the other piece to BatteryXchange’s rapid success comes down to energy and authenticity.
“The people who have bought into it, have bought into it based on the motivation and energy we exude,” Wiggan says. “Genuine people attract genuine people; I truly believe that.”
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