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The Spark alumni: PowerbyProxi

April 15, 2013 / 0 Comments / 123 /
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Article featured in Unlimited April 15th – A link to the original story  can be found here, otherwise full content has been included below:

It began with a weekly lunchtime sushi date at a mutually convenient restaurant.

Fady Mishriki, a young engineering graduate with business instincts, and Greg Cross, the ‘greybeard’ serial entrepreneur with a track record of developing technology companies, met for six months to decide if they could work together, then launched wireless power venture PowerbyProxi.

“There was a strong chemistry and a set of can-do attitudes that lined up,” says Cross.

PowerbyProxi is at the forefront of the latest evolution of the wireless world, offering wireless power solutions to industrial and, as of recently, consumer customers.

We’re talking wireless control systems and sensors in wet, dirty and moving industrial environments, wireless charging of smartphones and tablets, and a raft of other applications that, as Cross puts it, promise to “unplug the last cable”.

The catalyst in this story is Mishriki’s studies into wireless power at the University of Auckland under Dr Patrick Hu, who is now PowerbyProxi’s chief technology officer.

As part of a team with Hu and two others, Mishriki entered the 2004 Spark Challenge with a business idea to use wireless technology in a marine application.

In a later iteration, he and others targeted the consumer market, only to discover that neither the technology, nor the market, were quite ready.

Finding Cross was a case of third time lucky. “Greg’s big challenge for me was, ‘we need a customer’,” says Mishriki. “We focused on the low hanging fruit, the industrial applications, and I managed to get [the New Zealand subsidiary of] John Deere signed up.”

Meanwhile, they invested heavily in R&D, aimed at miniaturising wireless power technology so it could be incorporated into consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets. The vision, says Cross, “is that over time people could have a wireless charging station in every room”.

It’s a highly competitive space, but early signs are promising.

Mishriki says a recent round of independent testing against key competitors demonstrated that “in terms of efficiency, charging time and all the things that consumers care about we are blowing the competition out of the water”.

Cross describes the company, which has an engineering team of close to 30, 126 patents and offices in Auckland the US, as “surfing a very big wave”.

All the major smartphone makers take the company seriously.

And on the other side of the business, one of the world’s largest industrial companies recently pre-launched a product based on PowerbyProxi’s IP and technology. Mishriki sounds pained that the details must for now stay under wraps — “but it is huge for us.”

– Unlimited

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