Josh Straw is the founder of Plox, which produces portable chargers for iPhone and Android smartphones.
ploxit.com/ @Plox_Global facebook
Good ideas come from including as many people in the conversation as possible.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
The idea came from a problem in my own life – how many times I needed to make a phone call only to have run out of battery!! I couldn’t carry a charger with me everywhere, and even if I did – my life is on the move – I couldn’t just stop to wait while it charged.
The solution was the Plox portable charger. To start with we just took them out and about in our daily lives, but quickly realised that at every bar and café someone would come and ask us what the product was. It became clear we had found a gap in the market.
Please explain your business model.
We sell portable chargers through traditional retailers such as Dick Smith, Harvey Norman, Tech2Go (in airports) etc. We also partner with distributors in New Zealand and Holland who sell Plox in their markets.
We also sell online from www.ploxit.com
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
We have just released the new Plox 3000 for iPhone, and the Android version is hot on it’s heals. This is the smallest of our charging products and fits conveniently in your pocket. If this takes off as we expect, the next step will to be to look at the US market and raising capital therein.
How do you make ideas happen?
Good ideas come from including as many people in the conversation as possible. It starts with a hunch, and when you throw that back and forth with others it becomes an idea. With enough input, the idea becomes credible and from there you just have to implement it.
The one tip I would give is: break the idea into small actionable tasks and you’ll be amazed how quickly you get to market.
What does your typical day look like?
The success of Plox is largely due to a good partnership. The co-founder Sean Andrews has his finger on the pulse of technology, he knows what the trend is before it occurs, and sources and develops products to suit.
For all the marketing that I add, the company would not be nearly the success it was without his expertise and drive.
My personal contribution to the company is working across brand positioning and the digital footprint. I usually start the day conversing with clients across email and social channels, then review our digital data for new trends or spikes in consumers talking about portable chargers.
This data is what drives our company positioning. When we started we used to sell ‘batteries’, but now thanks to deep dive analysis we have found that consumers want to buy ‘portable chargers’. These little insights have really driven the business forward.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Awareness is our biggest problem. As a result it has taken us some time to implement tactics to catch the customers attention. We’ve been speaking to reviewers, sponsoring events like Melbourne Fashion Festival and providing café’s and restaurants with our chargers for free just to increase product/brand awareness.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
We have been looking at the relationship women have with their phones. A couple years ago we investigated creating a handbag with a charger in it, but quickly realised that this concept could go much further. We are interested in building into the bag a retractable headphone, so instead of searching for the phone when it rings, you can just pull the earphone from the handle and start talking. The user would never miss a call again.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
I really like the new direction Dick Smith is taking in the Australian market. They are implementing an aggressive tech focus in their stores, so instead of being generalists that compete on price, they are trying to gain a competitive advantage by specialising.
Kogan is the other one. The way he utilises his staff and involves them in the business means he is constantly innovating. Congruent with this, he really knows how to get into the paper!
What about internationally?
There was a recent advertising campaign called ‘hashtag killer’ where the charity Water is Life took tweets using the #firstworldproblems hashtag, then shot video in third world countries where those less fortunate read the tweet out. The awareness campaign successfully guilted people into donating money to solve ‘real world problems’ .
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
The way the world works is run by the private sector. Government is far to bureaucratic to be effective, but private enterprise can set their minds to achieving something and make it happen
Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you’d like our readers to support?
I love the charity ‘Kiva’. It’s micro-financing (micro loans) to people in developing nations that need money to expand their business. These loans are paid back to you over time, and then you can loan them out again.
It’s everything we believe in at Plox. Make your own luck and leverage those around you for support. If you do the hard yards, you should be rewarded.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
We are looking for media and bloggers to review our product.
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?
What’s the best way to cut through and form relationships with key tech reviewers?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Third Wave on Cato St in Prahran, Melbourne.
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
We will donate a Plox charger.