Can Your Workout Charge Your Smartphone? Yes, According to Chicago Winner myPower

myPower cofounders pitch their smartphone-charging tech at Challenge Cup in Chicago. (Photo by Harvey Tillis)

myPower is a running companion that clips to your hip and captures your kinetic energy as you run. myPower stores this energy so you can use it to charge your smartphone or other mobile device later in the day. In essence, myPower is a rechargeable battery that you never have to worry about recharging–as long as you keep running. Forty-five minutes of running with myPower can give your iPhone an extra seven to eight hours of battery life, and running with myPower for a year can offset the carbon footprint of both itself and the device you charge with it.

1776 caught up with the cofounders—Tejas Shastry, Michael Geier, and Alexander J. Smith—to talk about their company and what it was like bringing their idea to the Challenge Cup.

1776: How did you get the idea for myPower?  

myPower: Our team formed through the NUvention Energy class at Northwestern University, and we wanted to find a way to capture energy from human motion to recharge smartphones that die too early in the day. Through the “Lean Startup” method championed by Steve Blank and Eric Ries, we settled on the technology currently used in myPower and decided to capture energy from running after testing prototypes with fellow runners and potential customers.

1776: What have been the most exciting developments for the company so far?

myPower: We were very excited to make our first functional prototype that actually generated power. Hearing the iPhone charging alert was music to our ears!

1776: Are you funded?

myPower: We received a generous prize from the Dow SISCA competition and were generously supported by the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship during our time in the NUvention class.

1776: Who do you see as competition in this space?

myPower: Solar chargers and large kinetic chargers currently exist on the market, but ours is the only one targeted for the needs of runners. Other backup batteries also exist, but we have found that people forget to charge them, and they don’t give you the satisfaction of generating your own green energy.

1776: What are the general trends you’re seeing in your industry?

myPower: Increased smartphone usage throughout the day continues to drain batteries more and more, and we have seen people come up with creative ways of dealing with dead batteries. Wearable technology, such as the Fitbit and Fuelband, is constantly showing up on the market and giving people a motivation to run. myPower does the same with the reward of longer battery life for your smartphone!

1776: What are the biggest obstacles to innovation in your industry and for myPower?

myPower: For myPower to be successful, we need it to become an indispensable part of running and smartphone use. To get there, we need a comfortable, effective, and fashionable product coupled with an effective marketing campaign. More and more, running products tend to be fashion statements, and we need myPower to combine form and function.

1776: What was your Challenge Cup experience like?

myPower: Exhilarating! The event was brilliantly organized in a great space (Thanks, 1871!) with great coaching and resources. We loved networking with other teams and our new fans.

1776: What did you learn? What were some of your key takeaways?

myPower: We had never given a one-minute pitch before, so that was certainly a learning experience. We learned that the energy and enthusiasm of our team was well appreciated, and we hope to bring that to D.C.

1776: As a winner, what were some of the best parts of the Challenge Cup for you?

myPower: The fantastic opportunity to go to D.C, watching dozens of startups give great pitches, and all of the social media shout-outs throughout the pitches!

 Want to meet the minds behind myPower? The Challenge Festival is just over a month away! Be here in D.C. when the global startup community convenes for a weeklong conference to discuss the grand challenges in regulated industries. Register for a Challenge Festival badge and get your ticket to D.C. tech’s biggest week of 2014. RSVP here.

Liz Elfman is a D.C.-based writer, editor, and content strategist who tweets at @lizelfman.