Top new businesses of 2016: Zap&Go

The portable charger that can take your iPhone battery from 0 to 100% in five minutes

Founders: Stephen Voller, Tim Walder, Dr Jonathan Tuck and Dr Marappa Rajendran
Launched: February 2016
Website: www.zapgo.com

A frequent business traveller, Stephen Voller saw a gap in the market for a portable charger fast enough to streamline the travel experience and eliminate the need for commuters to sit next to wall plugs and power banks for hours on end.

The result is his start-up venture – Oxford-based, Startups 100-listed Zap&Go: a supercapacitor charger that uses innovative technology to produce an ‘ultra-fast’ charge that can, according to Voller, fully charge an iPhone in just five minutes.

Market leading portable chargers are typically lithium-based, and like the lithium-ion batteries in mobile phones, they often take two to three hours to power up. The (not so) secret behind Zap&Go’s speed is that it uses a supercapacitor instead of a lithium-ion battery. Batteries make for slow chargers because they draw power from internal chemical reactions, whereas a supercapacitor requires no such reaction and can charge almost instantly.

However, existing supercapacitors are made from double-wound aluminium foils, which would make a charger too heavy and cumbersome to be portable. To overcome this, Voller swapped aluminium for graphene: a conductive, lightweight and extremely thin ‘wonder material’.

Having crowdfunded the charger on Indiegogo where it smashed its $30,000 target by raising $114,645 from 852 backers, in September 2016 the business went on to secure $7.8m from US investors to support growth.

With its sights set on a US sales office, a joint venture company in China, and expansion of its existing Oxford research facilities, Zap&Go has ambitious plans for the future and we think it has the potential to become a prominent name in the mobile accessories space next year.

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