Novelsys is a Singapore’s startup that creates innovative solutions that power the world around us to make it seamless, intuitive and smarter. Their product, Ampere, is a smart wireless charging phone sleeve that reinvent your mobile charging experience. Then they just launched their Kickstarter campaign on 15th Jan. This is Q&A with Kenneth Lou, CEO of Novelsys.
1: Nowadays, there are some wireless charging that focused upon designing. What do you think about Ampere’s greatest strength?
We feel that Novelsys Ampere has its greatest strength in making wireless charging real, for mobile users. We offer both wireless and wired charging (4x faster than regular USB output) and we also have a very intricate design that is both suited for male and female users, to fit into their daily lives and hectic lifestyles.
2: The latest smartphone, iPhone6 plus, is pretty big. Can I drop it also into Ampere?
Yes we offer the selection for the plus-sized phones (like the iPhone 6plus and Note3,4)
3: Why and when were you interested in starting your own business?
I have always been very passionate about technology and startups, how we can create value in the world we live in today. That is why, having started 2 startups in the past 3 years (1 mobile app, and one events business) in the past, it has given me much insight into moving into hardware/software combination. And I always beleive that vision has to be bigger than the products, so when the products fail, the vision does not. Our vision is to power the world one day.
4: What do you think about hardware startup incubators? In these days, many hardware startups join the program. Actually, they de-risk hardware and have access to manufacturing, design, financial ecosystem, etc. But in your case you researched the market and developed new product yourselves. Why did you choose the way?
Yes, in Singapore, we do not have many direct hardware startup incubators, most are generic, so they will just link us up with the production guys and we will follow on from there. It is really out of necessity and moving forward with our plans, making way for our startup and many others who will come through the ranks soon.
5: What’s the turning point of your team’s growth?
One that had passed in August, was our pre-seed round of $80,000 that we raised via an incubator fund. We have raised $50,000 from private angels and incubators as stated above, and a further $30,000 from bootstrapped. We are at present raising the next round from Seed VCs and companies.
A big one is coming up, the Kickstarter launch and the customer validation, bringing the product to commercialisation.
6: Can you already mass produce the product with no problem?
Over the past 6 months, we have lined up our manufacturers in Singapore. However, we only procure materials and parts from all around the world, US and China, but final assembly is in Singapore factory. So we get to have final Quality Check and certification of the product before it reaches our backers hands.
7: What is an attractive point of Singapore to you? I know there are some advantages of the tax system and financial ecosystem in SG. On the other hand, I know some hardware startups that their base moved to Shenzhen or Taipei to do prototyping more rapidly.
Yes it is indeed really simple and easy to do business in Singapore, from setup to administration. However, living expenses here may be abit high, but as Singaporeans, we can do with help from the Government and NUS(National University of Singapore) infrastructure. We did not move over as we believe that by having our base in Singapore, we can run more leanly and do rapid-prototyping at the same time, using the NUS resources and contacts we know.
8: Battery life is getting better little by little. Could you tell me your strategy to get the market share? Plus, do you have your own proprietary technology or are you using third-party solutions to make Ampere?
That can only help us in our journey and vision to truly become a wire-free society. On two fronts, Firstly we are using latest battery technology in our sleeve also, and secondly our vision is for the user to only charge once a day, with the sleeve. So that would help us in our efforts.
Mainly third party solutions, but we do have a IP in the sleeve and utility design of the Ampere sleeve.
9: Do you have a plan to place emphasis on the Japanese market also?
We are in talks with one distributor who distriubutes international products at TOKYU HANDS, so let us see how that pans out. Certification would be an issue also, so we are looking into it!
10: What’s your mission and vision?
Vision: To power the world and future
Mission: To grow the company to create products and solutions which are seamless, intuitive and smart.
Thanks for reading till the end! I contribute tech articles for Forbes, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Business Journal. Most of articles are in Japanese and a few of them are in English.
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Then, you can read my Japanese articles about Novelsys in the following URL.
・【インタビュー】シンガポール発、オシャレなワイヤレス充電器Novelsys Ampere／Build Something!