Once upon a time, intrepid explorers would conquer mountains wearing tweed jackets, a deerstalker, and some carefully-placed biscuits. Nowadays, though, not only is the list of great Earthly adventures diminishing, but the number of people willing to take on the challenges has shot up. And with it they bring a plethora of modern accoutrements not even Sir Edmund Hillary would have left home if he’d been born 50 years later.
But as mobile technologies have shot forward, the batteries that power them have not. And there aren’t many places imaginable that would be worse to lose power than up a mountain. The average smartphone only has four hours’ power in constant use. Finnish startup, Tespack, thinks the answer is sunlight, and wearables. The company, which has offices in Helsinki and New York City, has developed a range of wearable solutions that are integrated with solar panels to power portable devices. The company offers seven different designs in total, and three lightweight batteries – a battery bank, 20k, and 12k.
The solar panels themselves are forged from an IP-secure, elliptical, and bendable material that fits onto the back of each bag. Tespack is also developing semi-transparent (80%), colored, flexible, and organic solar cells and panels it claims will be ready by 2015. As CEO Mario Aguilera explains, the company has little competition within its adventurous niche.
“Tespack currently has few competitors that are offering certain similar solutions on a small scale, however, Tespack does offer much more in terms of experience and the future, our solutions are efficient and with more capacity and structure,” he says. “A solar backpack is only a solar backpack, but Tespack Smartpacks apart of offering energy will “In the near future” also offer internet and GPS locating. We don’t believe in the luggage concept, we believe in the travelling instruments mentality. Tespack could be a good partner for developing countries where there is sun and no electricity.”
The company, which is backed by the Finnish government’s TEKES fund, has received glowing reviews from both the adventure community, and the technology industry. “Tespack solar backpacks stand out among other solutions for portable power, can be used by people with no knowledge of electronics,” writes Daily Fusion. In fact, such was the long line of Tespack proponents that Biggest Climber in the World, Martin Szwed, chose the brand to take with him on a trek to the Antarctic’s highest point. “Tespack has proved to be a reliable source of energy as well as being a safe bet for storing it.”
According to a Canalys forecast, 2014 will be the year that wearable devices will become a “key consumer technology.” As they rocket in sales, and mobile device penetration creeps ever higher worldwide, the race is on to keep everything running for as long as possible. For some that means that a standard battery life is simply not enough. “All this wearable stuff is constrained by battery technology,” says Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman. “It’s not a computing problem.”
Tespack, which was founded only last year, has already been putting out figures that back that positivity. By the end of 2014, the company expects to reach a revenue of $9 million, with an EBIT of $2.16 million. Next year that is scheduled to rise to just under $22 million, with an EBIT of $9.5 million. And by 2016, says Tespack, its revenue will reach $63.5 million with an EBIT of just below $30 million.
No wonder Aguilera is in chipper spirits following Tespack’s Red Herring success. As sales increase and the good reviews continue to roll in, he hopes that his firm can become a household name in wearable battery technology. “Tespack, as an entity, is working towards an image and identity. We want to be recognized as the brand for energy,” he says. “When you think Mobile phones you think Nokia, Samsung, Apple, but when someone asks about energy on the go, there is nothing really, but now little by little we are taking the Finnish market.”
“However we are not only targeting the consumer sector but also industrial,” adds Aguilera. “We have started with Smartpacks because that gives us the consumer image of green energy, but we are also working on the industrial side with our new lamination technology and deals.” For its users, the sky is often their limit. But for Tespack’s staff, the company is soaring beyond even their own expectations.