The ChargeItSpot Story: A field guide for getting (and keeping) retailers as clients

If you’re thinking about a manufactured product or if you’re thinking about going after retail stores as customers you have got to listen to this interview.

Douglas Baldasare is the founder of ChargeItSpot, which provides secure cell phone charging stations for retail stores.

I want to find out how he validated the business early on in order to grow so fast and also the really brilliant way he removed risk from the manufacturing process.

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Douglas Baldasare

Douglas Baldasare

ChargeItSpot

Douglas Baldasare is the founder of ChargeItSpot, which provides secure cell phone charging stations for retail stores.

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Full Interview Transcript

Douglas Baldasare Interview

Andrew Warner: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And when I’m not interviewing entrepreneurs, I sometimes take my kids around the San Francisco Bay area just to kind of entertain ourselves.

I’ve never been, I don’t think target before having kids, but once I did, I took them in just for fun to take a look around and show them the toys, let them pick the things out. And I was surprised when I walked in that, one of the things that. It was right there at the door. Was this big red kiosk where if your phone is running low on battery, you can just take it out, put it in the kiosk,

and then when you leave the store, you’ve got to charge the phone. And I never thought of how that showed up, who built it or anything. I just assumed target Hattaway. And then I met today’s guest. Doug this year is the founder of target spot. He makes those kiosks, he’s partnered up with target and many other retailers to enable this.

And I thought it was just a courtesy to customers like me. It turns out it’s actually. Of revenue boost, two stores like target, which is why they’ve got it in. So I invited him here to find out how he had it built, how he came up with the idea, how he got customers, why he decided to get into manufacturing and what he’s thinking now in post COVID where people just don’t seem to be going into retail stores.

I want to find out what happened to his business and we can do it all. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you’re starting a business, you need a hosting company to host your website.

Right? Well, go to hostgator.com/mixergy for goodness sake. And second, once this interview is done, I’m going to tell you about a podcast you should listen to. It’ll tell you secrets of getting traffic. It’s called traffic secrets, but I’ll talk about those later first, Doug. Good to have you here. How many of these kiosks do you have around the country?

Douglas Baldasar: So we have North of a thousand units, I guess, North of 1100 units, our in 42 States, we’re in the us, Canada, Mexico, and Australia.

Andrew Warner: Any stores pay you for the kiosk they pay you per month? Is that how it works?

Douglas Baldasar: thankfully they do. Um, that is our business model. Um, it is absolutely free for users to go and charge their phone. The whole idea behind it is that as consumers, we are desperately addicted to our phones for so much of what we do every day. When our phone batteries run low, we’re anxious and we’re stranded.

On the retail side, they’re constantly looking for ways to drive people into the store, keep people shopping longer, get them to buy more stuff. Since that’s what happens when people charge your phone, they spend more time. They spend more money

Andrew Warner: So do people feel comfortable taking the phone out of their pocket and putting it away even for 20 minutes?

Douglas Baldasar: they do, um, in terms of sort of usage, uh, growth. It took us four years to charge our first million phones. And now we charge a million phones every a hundred days.

Andrew Warner: I’m trying to get a sense of like the load who percentage, or how often is it full or anything like that? That tells me how, how much people are using it within a store.

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah. Um, it’s on average, a unit is full every other day.

Andrew Warner: Every other day, it’s supposed to capacity where there’s somebody who might want to use it and just doesn’t have a spot in it.

Douglas Baldasar: Correct. Um, yeah, I mean, we do a lot of research to understand consumer trends, um, and people will ask us our battery’s getting better. Right. Um, so that when batteries get better is when you get a new phone and you have a fresh battery.

Um, but when you survey, we surveyed through a third party research firm, over a thousand people, and we asked them a very simple question. Do you feel that your battery. Uh, over time is getting better, worse or staying the same. And 52% said getting worse, 22% said staying the same. So you have 74% of people who were saying this was either getting worse, which is most of them or saying the same.

Um, and perception is very much reality. If you feel like your battery is getting worse over time, that’s when you’ll use things like this. Yeah, they absolutely do. And should, and we think of ourselves as one of the many ways that you would charge your phone. Um, we serve the group of people who are not prepared, who don’t have a know, maybe they have a power pack, but it’s not charged or they’re not carrying a bag. And so they don’t have it in their pocket.

we see ourselves as one way for retailers to provide that lifeline, to provide that delight moment for guests, for something that they really care about, which is their phone.

Andrew Warner: Yeah. I think when I felt that urgency, I would either go and buy another cable, which is a pain. I feel so bad going into a Walgreens and buying a cable and charger, which is a pain I begged somebody to use. It was one time I was doing a run like a. Like a half marathon and my battery was dead. I begged the store owner at whatever local store, if they would just charge me up for even 10 minutes so that I wouldn’t be stranded in the middle of nowhere while I was running.

And then at times I’ve gone into the Apple store and just sat down there, which just stinks, waiting for my phone to charge because you could just disconnect any one of their phones. So I get the urgency, I get the, I get the need before this. Let me get to know how you came up with this business idea and how you grew it, how you got customers.

Before this, you were working at Amazon. What was that like?

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah. So I spent a summer at Amazon as an MBA intern. So I was doing my MBA when I started this business, my longterm vision and sort of dream was to start my own company. Oh yeah. So I grew up around it. My dad was, uh, a repeat entrepreneur. Um, dinner table conversations were very much focused around.

The stuff that he was dealing with during the day, I found it really interesting. I always thought I could help. Um, I found it to be a fun, um, sort of problem solving challenge.

Andrew Warner: You mean, he would tell you here’s what I’m going through.

Douglas Baldasar: .  You know, I think he might have talked about a client situation. He might’ve talked about, you know, a situation with people on his team who, you know, he wanted to motivate who weren’t really pulling their weight.

Um, he would talk about how smart some of his colleagues were and how impressed he was. It gave me a bit of a fabric for what does a team look like? What is a good contributor and how you might either motivate or exit out. People who weren’t pulling their weight.

Andrew Warner: I remember one time my dad got, he went from manufacturing, women’s clothing to just owning a few stores in Brooklyn. And I remember as soon as he opened up his store, there was a sneaker store that opened about a block away. And he said, I’m going over to talk to the guy. And I said about what he said, I either have to buy him out or he has to buy me out, but we can’t both be on this block.

And I thought that’s pretty clever that you can actually go in there and try to buy the other person out just to, you know, close up a competitor. Neither one knew that they were going to get into business at the same time. And that type of thing was really eye opening to know that the stuff that you read about is actually possible.

It’s actually a way of life. You are entrepreneurial partially. I’m guessing because you got to experience your dad’s stories, right?

Douglas Baldasar: Absolutely.

I knew that I wanted to one day start a business. I wasn’t quite ready to start my own out of college. I didn’t have the idea of the team. So I figured the best way to get training would be to go work for a CEO founder.

Um, who had started one or multiple businesses. And so I found that role in this company called the news market with, uh, the CEO founder. I started at age 22 as her chief of staff. I thought that was a really, really good role to sort of get, uh, all purpose training on entrepreneurship in that type of role you’re working across function.

Um, you’re working with the CEO and you have that sort of high level of visibility. Um, one of the other benefits of that type of role, if you gain the trust of the CEO, because you’re working so closely, um, and that allowed me to then take some other exciting roles within the company. For example, I, uh, ran our Asia Pacific division in Beijing, uh, before, during, after the Olympics, that certainly would not have been possible if I didn’t have the confidence of the CEO directly.

Um, I spent time working in London doing enterprise sales, which, um, if you’re going to start a business, I feel like getting training in sales is really important. so I really recommend that type of path for people who might be considering entrepreneurship, but kind of don’t have the idea of the team go work for a CEO founder.

Um, and you can find them by finding their investors, developing relationships with their investors and then getting access to all of their portfolio companies.   You know what I don’t. I do think that I, that I got to work with someone who is a CEO of a smaller company. The best thing that I got out of that was the sense that this validation, that my vision was right. That it made sense to watch this guy, Paul Solvera, who I worked for, build his company, take notes on people on calls so that he could use it as follow up.

Andrew Warner: Um, Look for specific newspaper articles so that he could then know what his customers were about. All these things that you read in these self-helpy business books that I wasn’t sure is this like me pretending to be a businessman? Is this like the time I created business cards for myself? Or are these lessons actually helpful to watch?

Pulser barely use them. It showed me. Yeah. This makes sense. Keep going

Douglas Baldasar: Completely agree. Absolutely.

Andrew Warner: I also got into stocks, just a tiny bit. You got into it. How did you get into it

Douglas Baldasar: Um, so this is probably also started at a dinner time conversation where my dad was teaching me the concept of a stock. And he said, it’s a, it’s a piece of a company. And I was like, I want the computer room. I’m like those look high tech. I want that. Um, and so. Um, I remember driving with my dad, um, and saying, wouldn’t it be cool if they had like a handheld encyclopedia, um, that you can look stuff up.

And he’s like, I actually heard about a company like this called Franklin electronics and, and they made those little like dictionaries and encyclopedias that were probably like yellow. Um, And so make out, are they publicly traded? Can I invest in their stock? Or like maybe I probably said, do they have a stock that I can buy?

Um, and so initially I was saving up allowance and my grandma gave me like, I guess, cash for a birthday. And I was pushing my dad to actually execute the trade. And he was, you know, kind of pushing me off for no good reason. And his stockbroker was, um, uh, the father of, one of my friends. And so I called him, I called a bow and I placed a trade and I don’t know, six or seven.

And the way my dad found out was he got in the mail, a stock receipt, and then he called up Bo and everything kind of came to light. I thought I was just doing what I was supposed to do. Um, being

Andrew Warner: you are, he wasn’t upset. Was he? I got to believe he was proud.

Douglas Baldasar: I think he was probably proud and the stock went up and, uh, and then I probably, I don’t know what I did with that money.

Andrew Warner: He didn’t hold onto the stock.

Douglas Baldasar: No, I, I dumped Franklin electronics. It was a pig.

Andrew Warner: Oh, it was Franklin electronics. The company that you decided to buy. Wow.

Douglas Baldasar: No, I wasn’t a pig. It was good while it lasted.

Andrew Warner: Yeah. And then when you think about those devices, they’re clearly out of step with the world the way it is today. My big one was I had a couple, one was Flanagan enterprises hurt on the street column in the wall street journal, talked about it and I said, Oh yeah, this makes total sense. Well, I wasn’t a drinker.

I don’t know anything about fast casual or whatever that restaurant. Far was wall street journal said, do it. I bought it. It was great. I felt really alive. And then, uh, I started buying other stocks too. And my big problem was I would call up the company to say, why aren’t you doing this? Or what are you going to do next?

It’s like, what do they want to talk to me? Cause I bought 50 shares.

I felt so helpless. I said, what’s the point of now another schmuck, just owning a bit of stock and not having anything that I could do to do better than everyone else,

so then the idea for charging spot came to you when you and your friends were in Miami, what were you guys doing there?

Douglas Baldasar: So this was labor day, uh, going into the second year of my MBA program, I had just finished up my MBA summer internship, and I, uh, was very clear, um, that. I didn’t want to go back and work at a big company. I gave it a try for a summer. I thought that was an interesting, the MBA is a great place to learn and stretch yourself.

And so I thought that was a version of me stretching myself, going to work for a large company. Um, um, great people at Amazon. Currently I have friends still there just, and the thing that Amazon as small, small changes can make huge differences because of the scale on which they operate for me. I just wasn’t stretching my thinking.

It didn’t feel like I was truly problem solving in a way that got me going. And so I knew that coming into the second year of the MBA, that this was my time to really incubate ideas and use that second year while you’re not working. And you are in school, but you still have downtime to kind of get a business off the ground.

Andrew Warner: I know what you mean about Amazon before we got started, you were telling me about how, when you were at Amazon, you, your team was trying to figure out how to have a draw. Down menu that allow people to pick the city and state in the right way. And I could see how that would have big impact on a company like Amazon.

But I could also understand how a guy like you  who’s finding ways to buy stocks before you’re even 10 years old. It’s not the thing that you’re, it’s not your life goal. Alright. Before we come up before we come back into this Miami story, let me just tell everyone who’s listening to me.

If you’re out there and you want to start a business, you need a website. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. They’ll give you a super low rate to help you start a website. In fact, let me ask you this, Doug, if you had nothing, imagine you’re like 15 years old. You got no money. All you have is a website. I give you a free host Gator accounts, practically free.

They’re so inexpensive. What would you do today? What’s the business that you would launch on it?

Douglas Baldasar: Oh, that’s a good question. Um, I’d say generally, um, I would take mundane products and make them fun. you have a stapler you have. A lamp, a desk lamp. You have things that you might not think to sort of spice up, but I think there’s probably room to create funky staplers. And you know, why can’t the, guy who’s in the assisted living facility have a pretty fun walking cane.

Um,

Andrew Warner: Ah, so the same thing that’s out there already, but it’s been mundane. Nobody’s thinking about it. Nobody’s making it interesting. You would find a way to make it. Interesting. Totally get it. I’m with you a hundred percent. I thought you were going to go a different way. I would do at this point because there’s so many kids who are out of school.

And I could see in the fathers groups, I’m, uh, I’m in the local San Francisco fathers groups a lot. Everyone’s looking for a tutor. Jason, Calacanis just put out a post saying, can I just get a full time teacher for my kids who are going to come into my house? And by the way, is there another, another entrepreneur following me who would want their kids to come into my little homeschool?

I would go back to what you did as a, as a younger guy and create an online tutoring thing where it’s high school to high school and younger tutoring, younger kids, because the kids will look up to and admire and listen to older kids more than they would to some, some teacher on zoom. I feel like there’s an opportunity there.

All right. We’ve given people two great ideas. One of the beauties of HostGator is once you have it, You can just keep launching as many different products as you want. In fact, as you know, if you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, they’ve got one option on that page, which will allow you to host unlimited domains.

If you go to that URL, you’re gonna get their lowest price. You’re going to get unlimited domains. If you pick the option that I just mentioned, you’ll get unmetered disks unlimited that on all kinds of stuff. The features are there, but basically hosting that works inexpensively hostgator.com/mixergy.

I’m really proud that mixer is hosted on it.  what happened in Miami that launched you?

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah. So I knew. With a high degree of clarity that this was my time to start a business. Um, I had the background experience prior. I had the MBA and I knew that the big company life wasn’t for me. So I was, you know, sketching out some ideas. Um, I was with three other friends in Miami for that labor day holiday, right before the second year got started.

Um, we were walking around, we were looking for a Scarface on DVD. Because that’s what three guys do when they’re in Miami for a weekend. Um, at that time in 2011 DVDs were still a thing and we were going to split up to try to find this DVD, uh, but all of our phones where they’re dead or close to dead.

And now we were having to make elaborate plans about how and when and where we meet. And we were standing outside of a retail store and I was like, why can’t I just walk in there and charge wouldn’t that bring me into the store? And if I could somehow lock up my phone while it charged, then I’d be free to browse and shop and I might find something.

So maybe it will draw people in who will then ultimately buy. And then what about the people who are already there? Wouldn’t it get them to spend more time on average in this store because they have to wait for their phone to charge. They have to linger longer and their phones away. They’re not going to be distracted.

Doesn’t that mean with more time and more focused? That they should spend some amount of money more than they otherwise would have I thought about it. And I would say that, . My initial reaction was, Oh, the store will just do that themselves. Thankfully, I had a friend who was with me, who sort of like verbally backhand slap me off the side of the head and said, no, you dummy.

Um, the stores will not do that themselves. Um, they don’t make their own point of sale systems. They don’t make their own, you know, sort of security systems. They’re not going to build that kind of technology. Even if you think it’s simple. Now I bet you, it’s not as simple as you think. So. Thankfully, I had a friend there to kind of push me in the right direction rather than just.

Yeah, easily rejecting the idea.

Andrew Warner: You know what Doug, the company that I think of that does this, the only other one other than you is, is it called smart cart? Right? They have those kiosks at airports. Um, Don’t they do one of these things where you pay them, pay their vending machine in an airport. They charge up your phone. Were they doing this before you?

Douglas Baldasar: Historically they have, um, I don’t know when they launched that product. Um, when I was building the business, I didn’t see it. Maybe it came after. I’m not quite sure. Um, They have is, and they’ve started to phase that out. A couple issues with it. You can’t lock up your phone. There’s no lockers,

lockers are critical to being able to freely shop and browse while your phone is charging so you can leave it unattended. Um, so they were, um, sort of a tethered solution as I would call it. You had to kind of stand there while it charged. Um, they did focus on airport because that’s where they have the majority of their relationships, but they were charging like.

$5 or so to charge your phone. And at that point, a consumer would rather just go buy a cord. If they’re charging an airport, it probably means they don’t have a cord in their bag, which probably means that wherever they’re going to,

they may need a cord.

Andrew Warner: It was three bucks in, it was, and they launched it, I think in 2006, a few years

Douglas Baldasar: Oh, wow. That was before me. Yeah.

Andrew Warner: but I get your point. It’s a different model completely. And it seems like you weren’t aware enough of them for that to been an influence at all.

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah. We also were looking at airports. I guess we were trying to figure out an environment where by charging your phone, you add more value to the venue by spending more money. And we wanted to say, can we make this free for the user? So there’s a lot of venues like. Gyms and stadiums and, um, restaurants and train stations where it’s a really good user experience.

People want to charge, but people don’t really want to pay for a charge because they think of it as something they should get for free. Um, and, um, so we wanted to think, all right, retail seems like a setting where if you give them a free charge, you’ll get a ton more people using it. And, um, they should spend more time and money.

And so we should, you know, if net net create more value for the venue, then charging the consumer, getting much less usage, um, and losing out on all those people who could be spending more time and money in store.

Andrew Warner: All right. The beauty of software is you just find a developer to code it up. I don’t mean to oversimplify it. It’s hard to find the right developer, but developers are out there. They could code it for you. I’ve had people go through multiple development development shops over the course of a year.

Struggle, fail, feel the pain it’s socks. They waste too much money, but eventually they get it. And it’s it’s much easier than having something manufactured. And how did precision made, how did you get your first one made?

Douglas Baldasar: So, um, the first units I had 11 prototypes made in, uh, I guess third tier town in China. I called when Joe, um, which is one of the most polluted places I’ve ever been. And anybody from when Joe will agree.

Andrew Warner: What do you mean? What type What do you mean? What type of pollution are you feeling when you’re there?

Douglas Baldasar: Oh, it’s like, you think you you’re still in the clouds, but then you land. Um, and you’re not in the clouds, it’s

just sort of smog.

Andrew Warner: Wow.

Okay.

Douglas Baldasar: so yeah, I wanted for my first sort of product to have that MVP building an MVP, when it’s hardware could seem a little bit more challenging, um, I was still in school. I found somebody on the design side of, you know, a different program within, within the graduate school.

And I had her mock something up very simply. I think it was like 45 bucks. And I went on Alibaba and I looked at manufacturers in China that were doing something similar, building lockers, building charging stations. And I figured I could send them this drawing and see what they could come up with. And I got 11 prototypes that were pretty low tech.

It didn’t have a touch screen. It was just a locking key based system with basically holes drilled in the back and cords coming out. But I wanted to be able to prove to myself and to potential investors that venues would host these and that consumers would use that.

Andrew Warner: And this was just a box with a key in it. No digital, no nothing. It was you put your phone in, pick your right cable, plug it, take the key out after you locked the locker and walk around the store.

Douglas Baldasar: Exactly. Very simple, very straightforward. And we could test the hypothesis. And then we could even do our own observation and be like, how much time are people spending in between when they go to, you know, drop off the phone and get it back. And we can just sit there and record.

Um, so we could do some basic analysis. We put, uh, our first unit into a whole foods, um,

Andrew Warner: How’d you get it to whole foods. You mean this non digital version because your stuff is super digital and beautiful. Right? I P I type in my phone number. I get text message and all that. How’d you get whole foods to take the non digital version.

Douglas Baldasar: So one thing about whole foods, at least at the time, maybe still today, maybe not today with the Amazon acquisition, but at least at the time they were empowered to make decisions at the local level. Very very rare for a retailer. Every other retailer is making decisions at the corporate level that I know.

Um, but because their mission is to be ingrained in the fabric of the community, they were buying and sourcing locally, which is really cool. Um, through a professor that I was, uh, you know, in touch with, he mentioned, he knew the marketing manager at a local whole foods in Philadelphia. Um, he got me connected.

I went over with some,  piece of shiny paper showed her what this thing could do. She agreed to get the general manager in the meeting. It was August 12, 2012. I had my friend gal on his birthday drive with me in a rented Ford fusion, where we were able to fly this through the center seat.

And I brought it into the parking lot and was demoing it. And, um, I kind of let the marketing manager who brought this meeting together. She kind of convinced to is Dana convince Carol, um, that, you know, you’re empowered. We can make this decision. And then I kind of timed it at that point when there was that moment of silence, I’m like, why don’t we just put it in, see how it does, like, you know, you can try it out for a little bit, see how it goes and, uh, rolled it in, plugged it in.

And I got the hell out of there as quickly as I could, because I did, I did not want them to have a second thought. I did not want them to change their mind. Right. I didn’t want to have any evaluation period while I was officially still there.

Andrew Warner: Doug. I got to interrupt you. I got to see this. Tell me you’ve got photos of this.

I’m emailing you right now. So I don’t forget. I got to see photos of this thing. All right. It sounds brilliantly simple and just incredibly effective. Right? So how did it do, did you watch people, did, did people use it.

Douglas Baldasar: So then I came back maybe a couple hours later when I thought maybe it was even more than that a few hours later. Um, and I kind of sat there and the cafe, which is where the unit was and I was wearing a hoodie and I was hiding myself and I was just watching people charge. Um, first six hours, we had 50 people charge their phone.

which was a big, a big stat. I didn’t know what to expect. You put the dog food in the bowl and you want to see if the dog will come and eat it. And thankfully they did. We rigged the unit with these sort of manual counters. And I got some laser cut, rectangular pieces of plastic that I jammed and glued in the door, such that every time the door opened and shut it would click the manual counter.

So we get to see how many people were actually charging. Um, You got pictures, they posted it on social media. Those were obviously screenshotted, you know, screenshots put into my investor deck. Um, and based off that and a few other early deployments, that’s how we raised our first seed funding. Um, and we had designed for the next gen unit, um, that we got to an industrial designer in Brooklyn to make, he was great.

His name is Klaus.

Andrew Warner: Would you raise your money from, I was going on Crunchbase and  I couldn’t figure out who it was.

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah, we, uh, we don’t keep Crunchbase up to date. Maybe we should. Um, but we, we started with friends and family, um, We had, let’s see, on that first round, it was mainly friends and family. We had, you know, I was part of the venture initiation program at the MBA program. Um, that’s sort of like an accelerator, except they don’t, they don’t take a piece of the business.

It’s more like a student academic resource. Um, but they had these quarterly pitch events. And so I met some investors that way, who ended up writing checks. I think our first round was around. It was started at 500 and then ultimately was 750 K. And that was enough to take this drawing that I paid 17 K for.

Um, and thank you very much class as a great deal. And I know nobody else is going to get that deal so nobody should expect it if they reach out to class. Um, but, um, we could use that capital to go and actually get some units built that would actually be scalable, not locking keys. Cause consumers will lose keys.

They’ll throw them away with their lunch at the mall. Um, But we wanted to make this scalable for national retail because that’s how we can really grow as business. Target has 1800 stores TJX, which owns Marshall’s. TJ Maxx and HomeGoods has over 3000 stores. We want to be scalable for them and locking keys.

Aren’t gonna cut it. It also aesthetically wasn’t really that really that nice. And so now I need to find manufacturers to build this, and I’d never, never built any kiosks. I’m not technical myself. I’ve never worked in retail. So I needed to figure out people who knew way more than I did to get a real legitimate, uh, product into high end stores that have high standards.

Andrew Warner: And how much did that cost?

Douglas Baldasar: Good question. I don’t remember the loan amounts. Um, I purged all the expensive stuff. Um, I don’t remember how much that costs.  we found, you know, a small handful and that summer I was working, I had kind of lonely, everybody graduated and I was the only one left staying in Philadelphia.

I thankfully had a friend Beth. Um, who had a late start date for her full time job? I think it was October and she was from Philadelphia and, uh, she had worked with me at Amazon and, um, she was my intern that she wouldn’t think of it that way. Um, because we were peers, um, And so she did a bunch of research and found a bunch of manufacturers that made kiosks that were in the U S because when we’re doing real product development for hardware, the time difference, the language barrier, even though I’ve lived in China, it’s still way too great.

I also was, you know, afraid of, uh, IP protection. Um, and I just wanted to have way more control over the product and we’d be able to speak. And way more specifics about the things that I want to tweak. And that’s really difficult to do when you, at least for me, when you’re working with company in China.

So we identify these companies, but then I’m negotiating a master services agreement with this manufacturer that I decided was gonna be the best fit and that’s price. I thought they were right, but I didn’t know what I could push on or what I couldn’t push on. And so I started to think like, how do I, how do I get closer to the core?

How do I get closer to the nucleus? And I thought, you know, who could probably help me negotiate this contract is somebody who previously worked at that company. So if I could find a former employee employee,

Andrew Warner: Ah, that’s brilliant. Right. You know, the manufacturer you want to work with, but you don’t know how to work with them. Right. It’s either you’re going to get completely screwed by bringing in a former employee because they’re still buddies and they’re there to kind of help their old friends or you’re gonna have the best insight information possible.

Douglas Baldasar: So I looked very simply on LinkedIn, where I had previous employer and I put in the name of the manufacturer. And I saw this woman who had worked at that manufacturer had been gone for two or three years and was actually at a kiosk startup business. So she had seen the manufacturer side. She was now on the, you know, they were pretty big and they were bought, but she was on the startup side.

And even prior to that, she worked for a very large manufacturer. So she seems the large, the medium, and then the startup. And so I was either, you know, still a student. I think I still was a student. Maybe I just graduated. So I said, I’m a recent MBA. Grad started my own business, you know, for students out there, when you’re a student, you’re cuddly, people are willing to talk to you really leverage the fact that you’re a student wanting to learn.

And I said, I’d love to pick your brain. I’m going to be. Actually where she was, is in the same city as a manufacturer. So I’m gonna, I’m going to be in town. We’d love to buy you lunch. If you wouldn’t mind sitting down with me, I got lucky. She was such a nice person, so willing to help. Um, she really didn’t have to interface with the manufacturer, but she can say, you know, this is really not legit or yeah.

Don’t try to push here because they’re really sensitive on this stuff. Um, And she helped me negotiate the contract. And then when I needed to build software for the unit, she also gave me the advice. I know the manufacturer is offering to build your software for you, but that’s going to wed you to this manufacturer in such a way that you’ll never be able to leave.

And they’re not really experts in that. I’ve been there. They’re not, they they’re building this stuff, but it’s not. So she’s like, I’ve got this, I’ve got the software people for you. I’ve worked with these guys multiple times. It was two individuals. Um, this is now seven plus years ago. Um, one of them is still on my advisory board and, um, one of them has been with me, started with me as a halftime consultant and now runs our product, um, group and has been with us for almost seven years.

Um, all because of Heidi,

Andrew Warner: Wow. That’s such a great technique.

All right. Before we got started, you were starting to tell me about this, uh, client that you got. That was in the, I guess, a clothing retailer. I’m intentionally not going to bring up their names so that you can tell a story without, without wondering whether you should or not. What’s the story there.

Douglas Baldasar: Sure. So, this is one of our largest clients are our, our goal for scale was to work with large national retailers who had hundreds or thousands of stores, because we can prove value in five or 10 stores. We can then replicate that across hundreds. And that would be a really strong growth for us, um, in terms of our unit count revenue.

So we had one apparel, retailer who we started working with, um, had an amazing champion. Um, within that retail company, I got an intro from a, another professor and got going with a really low cost, five unit pilot. Um, and, um, He wrote this most, the most amazing white paper about the partnership. I mean, it was as if I wrote it and, and then even much better, uh, you know, I couldn’t have put the words in his mouth as well as he wrote them down.

So we had this proposal to go to, I think, 20 or 30 stores and do a research study because we wanted to prove out. That when people charge, they do spend more time and money and we’re actually causing it. We’re not just correlated with it. So we actually had a plan, how we were going to hire an independent third party to come in and do this research study and prove that that lift and I can get into how the research works.

But the story you’re asking about is

Andrew Warner: Okay. I do want to come back and ask, how could you figure out that people who need their phones charged and actually use your kiosk are more likely to spend more money? But come back to this story and then we’ll get to that.

Douglas Baldasar: I’ll jump on that now, because we’re talking about it. Um, so the way we do it again, leveraging the people around you I’m think life is about concentric circles and you just got to go one step in and then you’re going to get to the core. That’s what I did with Heidi. Um, and that’s what I did here. So I had, uh, during the MBA program, I really leaned heavily.

Uh, it was the Wharton school and I got to say they were incredibly supportive throughout the experience and even still have been incredibly supportive. So couldn’t say better things. I have, um, I had a professor there, Ellie Fite, who was an amazing professor in experimental design. And so I would kind of call her up whenever I had an idea for it.

Hey, maybe we can measure our causal impact this way. We get half the people who walk in the store and blue cards, half them yellow. We randomize that way. We can then put coupons, et cetera, and we ruled out so many ideas, but finally we landed on this one and the way it works is you hire a third party research firm and it’s important for them to be independent.

And what they do is they deploy physical human researchers into the stores. They are unannounced, they’re anonymously observing what happens when people charge, they’re communicating with each other on an earpiece walkie-talkies type device. It is like the CIA, um, but it’s completely anonymous and nobody’s being actually followed.

It’ll be stationary, uh, there in terms of the, the researcher. And they literally write down what time the person starts charging, what time they exit the store and how much they spend to checkout zero or some dollar amount that they spent next two hours of the study, those researchers fill the unit completely full with dummy phones.

And so what happens is so, you know, we completely full. The user had started charging message says, sorry, the unit is full.

Hello. Right? So that’s the control group. Those who attempt to charge, but don’t cause the end, it appears to be full. They then record their time of the unit, their exit time from the store and how much they spend a checkout zero or some dollar amounts.

And that’s where they observe on average, it’s a 47% lift in basket size and a 65% lifting conversion between these two groups, which are. Identical, except for the fact that one charges one would have the dinner

Andrew Warner: Yeah, man. Oh, that makes so much sense. Okay. Once you say it that way, it does make sense. And so how much did you see the people or more, how much more were people willing to spend?

Douglas Baldasar: on average basket goes up by 47%. Um, and, uh, conversion goes up by 65%. This will range from retailer to retailer. So, you know, a client like a grocery store, we’re not going to impact their conversion. Conversion is going to be already above 90%. We, by definition, can’t lift that 65% conversion tops out at a hundred percent.

So we’re not going to impact conversion there, but we will impact basket. And then. And then there are other environments, like I’m a high end. If you think about a Niketown type environment, people will mainly go into that type of store for the entertainment, for the experience. Maybe they don’t really have an intention to buy, but now that they’re gonna have more than double the time in the store, we actually do increase their conversion quite a bit, because these are people who weren’t really in a, in a buy mode, cause they were just going for the experience.

But we’d given them more time to create the speed bump. They’re more focused cause their phone is not in their hand and they do convert at a higher rate.

Andrew Warner: All right. And it doesn’t take up much retail space. So I see how that would help you get customers. I want to come back and find out how you got your first customer, but let me take a moment to talk about top-down. I’ve talked forever about how top tells a good place to get developers, dude, right now.

Every one of us entrepreneurs needs to really pay attention to our finances. We’re going to talk about what you did post COBIT to make sure that you are taking control of the finances. One of the smartest things that I did was awesome. I’m going to talk, I’m going to talk to them, going to ask them for help.

They introduced me to a guy named Jack Barker. This is a guy who is a principal at the Carlyle group, big investment firm. That’s the guy who was a partner at McKinsey and company. When you talk about these bigger organizations that they’re trying to bring in somebody or a team of somebody to come and help them figure out how to change their organizations, how to manage better, how to, how to grow.

They go and hire someone from McKinsey and company. Now, a company like mine, isn’t hiring McKinsey and company. I don’t, it’s, it’s more expensive. It’s obviously too big. And it’s also just, um, it’s overkill. It’s not right for me. But by going to top town, I was able to get a former partner at McKinsey and company fruit, frankly, not very much money to come in and give me advice on how to change my company, how to operate better, how to hire people, how to motivate people, how to cut costs, all that stuff.

And I was able to do it just by going to top town finance and hiring directly from them telling me what I was looking for. And I, at first said, I need an outside CFO of a part time CFO. And they thought about it. They heard what I was looking for. And they said, no, no, Andrew, do you want a profitability advisor?

Forget the rest. You don’t care about those other things. Right? I said, no, I don’t. I actually have a good bookkeeping company. I do have good CFO level help. What I need is somebody to help me figure out where we’re, where the money’s going. What could we do to think through growth and profitability? And they introduced me to him and he’s helped us tremendously.

Um, when covert hit, thankfully, I listened to him at the end of last year and I was able to adjust our business and cut costs a lot so that we are not impacted by a thankfully. So, why am I saying this to you? If you’re out there listening to me and you need somebody to help you with your finances, think through the future of your business.

If you’re raising money and you need better decks and you need better spreadsheets and you need better business advice, you could go to top towel, hire somebody like Jack, or even Jack himself. If he’s still on their network and get that type of help. The big question I had by the way, he came out here to San Francisco, I went to my favorite spot in Dogpatch.

We sat down for coffee. And one of the things I said was, I said, taxi. Why are you doing this? You don’t need to work with me. He’s got these high level clients that he works with in, uh, independently. And basically what he said was see these bigger companies. I said, yes, see how much bigger they are. I said, yeah, he goes, Andrew, I want to tap into what’s going on in San Francisco, by working with you, you and a few other companies like you, I get to understand what people in the tech space are doing and bring that back.

If it makes sense for our businesses. And I thought that’s brilliant. You’re basically paying me to teach you goes, yeah. Well, I’m getting a whole lot of value out of it too. So if you’re out there and you’re listening to me, you know, you can go to top tile to hire phenomenal developers. Now I’m going to open you up to top towels finance department, and I’m going to urge you to go to top talent.com/mixergy, and just initiate a phone call with the matcher, a top Cal, see what their finance people could do for you.

People have raised money with them. People have cut costs with them. People have increased the management capabilities of their companies with someone from top town. So it’s top isn’t top of your head, talent and talent. T O P T a l.com/m I N E R G Y. And there’s a special offer there that will get you 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours and blah, blah, blah.

Good deal over there. But frankly, they’re phenomenal, even without that exclusive deal. Top talent.com/mixergy. Alright, back to the retailer, this what’s, what’s the story there. What happened?

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah. So this was our first. Retailers and apparel business had this amazing champion internally had a five unit pilot. He wrote this wonderful white paper. The problem was, I guess, twofold one. He he’s one of my favorite guys to this day. So let me say that, um, But he wasn’t at the seniority level to actually get the deal done.

He had to sell this in, he wasn’t the one writing the sign of the contract and signing the check. So we were kind of, you know, at the mercy of whatever else was going on in his world, whatever other priorities were out there. And that was a key lesson. You really should go right to the top when you’re introducing a new product or service to an enterprise.

And I learned that lesson the hard way. The other problem was he left the company. Um, and at that point, this was really my, my, what I thought was my golden ticket to raising more money, to getting the proof points that we actually were causing this lift. We needed the research study. We wanted to show momentum.

We wanted to show expansion and, um, and we got, he left the company. We got stalled. So I had heard from him that the main decision maker was this woman, this COO. And I went back to my friends at the Wharton school and I’m like, Ooh, maybe we can get to an advisor on our advisory board who did some work with this company.

And I said, maybe you can reach out to her. I’ll write the email for you. You can reach out to her to have more of an academic conversation. Maybe there’ll be a little bit more disarming when it’s not me. And she hasn’t responded to my emails. Maybe she’ll look to me. Um, so, um, he did, they spoke, um, she agreed to take a meeting with me.

Had a meeting with me, amazing meeting. One of like, I obviously prepared by butt off for that meeting. Um, it was going in the right direction. She wanted to have a follow up meeting where she brought in more members of routine, um, who were reporting to her who would be involved with a research setting.

We had that great meeting, gave her a killer deal. She, um, it was like December timeframe. I think we’re getting closer to the holidays. Everybody was going to turn into a pumpkin. I knew she was going to forget about the excitement that we had generated in those meetings. It was going to become, you know, in the rear view mirror and just a small speck in that rear view mirror.

So we’re getting closer to December 18th, December 19th, nothing back she’d previously, you know, since meeting, she was pretty responsive with me in that shifted. So I figured she’d moved on to something else. And I was just getting this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. And so I started to. Think out loud with my advisors and my, my team members.

And I’m like, I’m so frustrated because I know in my gut that this will raise their stock price. They do this at all stores. People make enough of an impact that their stock will go up. And it’s so frustrating for me sitting here inside knowing that for me, I know that, um, And that she wasn’t, she wasn’t moving.

If that frustrated me so much. And I said, you know what? I don’t have much to lose here. And so I went out that day and bought exactly the amount of stock that she would be spending with me. If she went to 30 stores,

Andrew Warner: Wait, what do you, what do you mean? You bought the

stock.

Douglas Baldasar: traded retailer.

Andrew Warner: Okay. Well, you said I’m investing in you as much money as I want you to invest in my product.

Douglas Baldasar: Correct. And so I wrote her, so I bought like roughly, I don’t know what it was 30 K worth of stock. Um, it was our prototype unit, so it was still the early days and we gave them a special deal and all that. Um, but I, I bought this stock and I wrote a very carefully worded one sheet letter, um, that kind of explained, um, you know, Know, I haven’t heard back from you.

I can only imagine that some of the excitement that we had generated, it started to fade. Um, you know, I, here’s what I believe we can do for you. And, uh, and I, I know that if you were to do this, you would see a positive impact for your shareholders and your stock would go up. That’s why this morning I bought $31,300 worth of stock.

And you can see the stock receipt in this parcel. You can also see the white paper that your team wrote. Um, that shows what we will do for you and what you get out of this is, um, you know, the ability to delight guests in 30 stores, uh, very specific understanding about what this could do for you at scale, in terms of a causal impact on your revenue and three, all the joy that comes with innovating on behalf of your customers.

Have I created a case worth exploring further? I also included the contract for the sign. Um, she took. A solid two, three days with complete radio silence. And then on December 24th, when I was at my parents in the mountains in a ski hut freezing, I got a call from her and she gave me the go ahead that were to do it.

Andrew Warner: Ah, that’s great. Yeah. You know, it occurs to me that the problem is that it’s hard to show direct relationship for you between their payment and their profit. It’s almost like they’ve got to trust your research and then test within the company, but they’re not going to test the way that you are. Right.

It’s not like saying if you carry my, uh, my popcorn brand, you’ll see that it’ll make more money than the chips that you have. Right. That

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah. It is. And we thought that initially that we could do a few studies, maybe one apparel, one big box on this and apply the findings. What we realized is we actually have to do a study for every significant client. We worked with any client where we really want true growth. We have to do a custom study.

So right now we’ve done 19 or 20 studies. Um, we’ve we invest a lot. Um, the retailers also did we split the cost of the research. We have a very formal process where we have a kickoff meeting. We bring the third party in, we, we politely required that the people who were signing the checks and the contract in that room for both the kickoff meeting and the, the end result meeting, we set goals.

We set methodology at the beginning, we do the research, come back and present results. Thankfully, in all cases, we’ve seen that positive ROI that, that significant increase in dwell and convert conversion and, or. Basket size, depending on the retailer. So we initially were kind of hesitant to do a study because it’s a heavy lift for every major client we work with, but it pays off because they get definitive data.

And what I tell them is I’d rather have a yes or a no, rather than an, I don’t know. And if we don’t do this study, we’re going to have an, I don’t know, I guarantee you that. And there’s a lot of reasons why we’re going to have an, I don’t know,

Andrew Warner: And basically they’re paying, what is it? Thousands of dollars per store, tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of dollars. What’s the scale.

Douglas Baldasar: It’s in the hundreds of dollars per unit per month range.

Andrew Warner: Okay. All right. That’s not that much. All right. Let’s talk then. About what happened COVID I think you told me 85% of your customers are retailers, right?

Retailers got hurt badly, and COVID even if they’re open, they’re not open the same level they were before. What happened to your business before we get into how you dealt with it?

What happened to your business?

Douglas Baldasar: So, um, Thankfully now that we’re July 8th today as we’re recording this, um, um, we haven’t yet lost a client to Tacoma. It we’ve kept all of our clients.

Um,

and

Andrew Warner: though their stores are closed.

Wow. Okay. Because you’ve got a contract with them.

Douglas Baldasar: we have a, yeah, it’s a lease agreement. So, um, um, yes, that is one of the reasons, some of the clients that are beyond their lease, some of the clients have already rolled two months a month and could have terminated. Um, and how do we keep them? I’d say, I’d say the main thing. We did a bunch of things. So we had a grow, keeping, protect strategy, protect with all the non-fun stuff, the pay cuts, the pay cuts, the furloughs expense.

Cutting. Um, we found areas where we really think we can have some of these savings continue. So there’s certain things we can do with technology. For example. No sturdier sturdier charging cables. So we started to figure out, alright, we put a casing around the, the charging tip break less frequently, which means we have to replace them less frequently.

So maybe the cost per unit will go up by 50 bucks or 10 bucks or a hundred bucks or whatever it does, but we can reduce the frequency of our visits if things are breaking less frequently. And that can save us a lot of money because we’re constantly going to units and we’re paying people to do that. So those would be some of the things that we could figure out.

If we went down the list, Amazon web services, what can we get? They’ve got programs for startups. We got a hundred tech, which was fantastic um, so I’m using startup as a broad term. I think that they do have programs if you’re attached to investors. So certain investors, regardless of their, of your stage, have this Amazon program and. You’re able to make some introductions and get the right people connected and

Andrew Warner: I never thought to do that, but you’re right. You’re right.

Douglas Baldasar: so we just kind of went down the list on everything we

Andrew Warner: Give me more, I love this stuff. I feel like the hacks for how to grow revenue or out there, and I’m fascinated by them and they’re, they should take priority, but. Techniques for cutting expenses. We don’t spend nearly enough time and we should now be more aware of it. What else? The first

Douglas Baldasar: Uh, yeah, so went to our law for our master deferred payment to got it, which is great. Went to our software development term. They cooperated with us. They worked with us, um, on deferring payment. Um, we obviously cut travel. That was a more organic, like naturally you’re not going to travel as much management took a 25% pay cut.

Um, we did do some furloughs. We worked with our rent, um, Our landlord and we’re still working with our landlord to get them, to give us some relief. Um, we, what else did we do? Um, I told you about reducing frequency by improving technology. There were some other technology stuff we could do. There was one sort of bug that required, um, in-person intervention.

Double down on fixing that bug to not have to have in person intervention at the unit. Um, we went to our connectivity providers and ask them what they could do for us. Um, so the units are connected to the internet by cellular. Um, and we have a longstanding relationship with this company. And we got some relief there.

We went to our investors. We have some, we have some loans and principal repayments were going to come due. We were able to work with our investors or debt investors to push out principle repayments a year. So we ended up saving about a third of our ongoing costs

Andrew Warner: That’s fantastic. All right, so that’s protect. What’s keep, before we get into grow.

Douglas Baldasar: And keep this, um, there’s some, um, movement between keeping and grow, um, because certain things we’re doing kind of effect both. So we started the things that, all right, we’re good. We’re in a physical retail environment. The stores are closed and users must touch and interact with our screen. So what’s going to happen when stores reopened right now, the number one focus for retailers.

Any retailer has health and safety. Health and safety, health, and safety. So we can be seen as a negative, right. We’re a high touch surface. Right? So that was something we had to think about. You’re putting phones, which are kind of dirty into cabinets. And how do you deal with that? Um, and so what we did, and we had kind of brainstormed this idea some years ago and put it on the shelf because we didn’t think it was really that relevant, but then all of a sudden it became relevant.

So we have, we created a task force. We got our team of engineers together and we started to work really, really hard on getting a UVC solution. So this is ultraviolet light that we were putting into every single one of our lockers. It sanitizes the locker itself, and then the phone when it’s in there. So you’re reaching your hand into a clean locker.

You clean your phone at 99% 99.9% luxury efficacy.

It’s not as simple as you think you need to cover all six sides of the phone, right? You can’t just shine light randomly in there. Light doesn’t bend. It does reflect, but it doesn’t bend. And so you need to have multiple strips, reflective materials. You need to have certain gifts.

Deb court’s glass phone sits onto the light shines through, but then you need to have a certain acrylic to block light. So it doesn’t harm anybody on the outside.

Andrew Warner: so basically now you’ve got a service that sanitizes phones, and by the way, we’ll charge them up at the same time.

Douglas Baldasar: That’s yeah, that’s, that’s what we did. And we, we were very quick at an early to announce this on a one to one basis with our clients. We wanted them to know we were working on something related to their number one priority, which is health and safety. So health and safety is getting the funding. It’s getting the focus and we wanted to quickly find our way into that bucket.

Andrew Warner: Meaning that within the company they’ve got money that they want to spend on health and safety. If that’s where they’re spending money, you want to be a part of the conversation.

Douglas Baldasar: Right. I also want to be seen as a good partner. That’s innovating on solving the problems that our clients have. And so when we announced UBC to them, um, we think this was in many ways to keep an growth strategy, because this is now the number one priority and we’re serving them for their number one priority.

Um, We think that it’ll do a few things for the retailer. One, those guests who want the charge it’ll make them feel comfortable to do so. Right. They see a very visible, you know, Indigo light. They see a very visible Indigo light and they feel comfortable charging too. We think that people who do not need a phone charge may just want to sanitize.

They see an opportunity to sanitize their phone. They’re they’re going to do that. And they have to wait to sanitize their phone, just like they have to wait and charge their phone. So we’re going to get more usage because you have a whole other population of people who have a phone battery at 90 or a hundred percent, but need to sanitize it.

And the third piece, and I think this could be perhaps the most powerful piece is that it is a very visible tech-forward demonstration by the store to their guests, that we take safety seriously. So if the retailer is going so far as to clean somebody’s phone, which is definitely above and beyond what they have to do, they must get the, they must be getting the core stuff, right.

They must be cleaning the shopping carts while dealing with the merchandise file, getting point of sale the way it should be. So if they’re going this far, it’s a very visible demonstration about the overall health and safety of the store. And so we think it’s a key because we knew that retailers would be interested in this and fall into one of our priority areas.

Andrew Warner: You know what I saw, Brian? Uh what’s I forget his name. I forget the company, his company named he’s. He’s someone who’s been really big on, um, uncovered protection. And he said, we need isn’t there. Isn’t it weird that there’s no way to clean our phones. And I thought interesting, but is it really necessary to clean your phones?

Why do people want to clean their phones?

Douglas Baldasar: Well, I think phones are like any other surface, something that especially cause they had as a smooth surface on it, something that attracts microbes and attracts viruses and bacteria.

Andrew Warner: From where I was just from me. I’m the only one touching my phone. And this is by the way, Brian Armstrong from Coinbase, he tweeted this out back. He was one of the first people to come up with a plan for Coinbase, as people for how they could work from home he’s ahead of the things. And then he said, Isn’t it funny that we hadn’t thought about how to do this, but the phone’s in my pocket.

What do I need to

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah, I think it’s true. If you start to track your daily touches or you guys just do your intro daily touches, let’s say, um, you touch something, you wash your hands, you touch something. You’re out, you touch, you touch your phone, right. You touch a doorknob, you touch your phone,

put the phone back in your pocket.

Andrew Warner: Okay. And maybe I sanitize my hands, but not the phone. Got it. Okay. Truthfully, as far as dangerous go, that’s a pretty low impact thing, but I could see saying, Hey, you know what? Let’s just clean it. I’m now at a point where I’m cleaning everything. Anyway, if I’ve got mail coming in, I let it sit for two days.

I don’t think it’s really going to do any damage if I open up the mail right away, but couldn’t hurt. I don’t need the mail right away. So I do it. So you’re saying the same thing, right? First of all, you want to keep that box inside clean. So it’s a huge win for you that it’s clean within between serve, uh, between cycles.

But if someone just wants to clean out their phone, you’ve got an opportunity for them to do it. All right. What about the dial pad? The touch pad, that screen that you guys have, where they

Douglas Baldasar: Yeah, so that becomes another thing. Um, So we came up with the contact list solution. So this is another thing we had to brainstorm on heavily. How do we solve this consumer as much must touch our screen? So we have, um, two options for retailers. We built a custom dispenser. The dispense is either low cost gloves, and these are not the latex variety.

These are the deli counter, you know, flimsy, plastic variety. And we very deliberately did that. Two reasons, one they’re way, lower costs and two, because of that, they’re less prone to that. So we had these latex gloves. People would be grabbing handfuls of them. We have these individually packaged low cost deli, counter style, one time use gloves, which we call one time, use gloves on the side of the dispenser.

Um, and then we also have a stylist has another option that you can grab the stylist without having to touch anything else. And then you can interact on the touch screen with the stylist door pops open. Once you enter your code, you can shut the door with your stylist and you’re, and you’re on your way.

And the interior of the lockers, as you mentioned, are all Queens. So we had to do that. And then what I like to do is take a belt and suspenders approach, and we put antiviral film on the screen itself and the dispenser. So this deactivates viruses and bacteria, this would be for those consumers who aren’t compliant, maybe don’t use the.

Stylist or maybe graze the screen. We wanted to have an extra level of protection. And so we came to our retailers with such a thorough set of solutions that are way more thorough than what, you know, for other screens or other things people are doing. And so it’s, it’s, you know, we’re, we’re, um, relatively speaking, it seems it is very thorough.

Andrew Warner: All right. What else are you doing? A girl then.

Douglas Baldasar: So we believe that. So UBC, as I said, it’s kind of keep an grow. So we think it’ll keep clients because if they’re focusing on the third priority and they want to wait and see what we come out with, and then I think it’s a grow because we believe that we’ll see such an increase in usage. And what our retailers have found is that for every user that charges it dollars more in the store.

And I say X, because it varies from retailer to retailer, maybe it’s $20 more. So we can go from. You know, 500 people a month charging in any given unit to a thousand people a month charging in any given unit, we’ve just doubled their ROI. And so that’s how our clients model out their growth path. They look at our, you know, a lift in spend per user look at their current usage and then they go to the next X a hundred stores and say, okay, well these stores, they’re not as high traffic.

We put them first in the high traffic stores. These stories are gonna be less traffic, so they should be less usage. Therefore, you know, you can go to this many stores. Um, if we can increase usage by an order of magnitude. Now, we, we flipped the model on its head and we, we make sense of so many more stories

Andrew Warner: And you increase usage. How?

Douglas Baldasar: because we believe that people who don’t need to charge, but simply need

to sanitize

Andrew Warner: that they would just. All right. Here’s a question that I’m going to just be played by. If I don’t ask you, why do I even need to touch the touch pad? Why is it that I’ve got my phone? It’s the smart, the smartest computer possible. Well, no, it’s not, but it’s smart computer. Shouldn’t. I just be able to text you and have the thing.

Just open up the right door for me.

Douglas Baldasar: We would absolutely love that the problem is you’re then locking your phone into charge and to then to retrieve the phone. Right. We don’t, we, we often run into these circular sort of, uh, situations where we have an idea on how to use the phone, but then we realize the phone’s locked away.

Andrew Warner: Right. Right. Of course. Yeah. And I think then I’ve got the watch and all that, but you’re right. Who’s got the watch and the watches and ready for this. Ah, that’s too bad truthfully though. I just don’t see it as a big issue, but okay. Wow. I like that. What you did was you took your biggest weakness, which was nobody’s going to want to touch these cases, the insides of these compartments, because they’re gonna think that there’s a virus in there and you turned it into your biggest Frank.

Now you’ve got the thing that cleans out their phones and you turn the whole thing on its head. I can’t wait now for more stores

Douglas Baldasar: Okay,

me too.

Andrew Warner: All right. Thanks so much for being on here for anyone wants to go check you guys out. What stores are you in? Are you awake? Are you at Ritz?

Carlton still?

Douglas Baldasar: Um, that was a single location and I think we still are there, but it wasn’t that wasn’t a strategic HQ deal. Um, to answer your question about where are we, you can find us a gap, banana Republic. Marshall’s TJ Maxx, target Nordstrom. Bloomingdale’s under Armour, Uniclo of North face. Um, those are some of the main ones where you can find us.

And, um, that’s been at our public, so we skip. Yeah. We skin them to fit the aesthetic of the store. So they’re all custom made and the lights are customized and the screen is customized. Um,

Andrew Warner: Makes sense. It looks good. Alright. I want to thank everybody for listening. We’ve got two sponsors that I want to remind everyone about the first. If you’re hosting a website, you need a web hosting company. Go do it. I did. I went to hostgator.com/mixergy, and now my website’s hosted really well. And it’s inexpensive.

I actually, I’ll be honest with you. I was with a different company. I probably shouldn’t say the name. Um, But I was with a different company. They did fine. It worked well. I switched over to HostGator. They did fine. It worked well, but HostGator’s cheaper and it just works. And I did have a tech issue and I called them up and I got somebody on the phone super fast.

Alright. hostgator.com/mixergy, switch over. If you haven’t yet save yourself some money. And if you haven’t started a site, start with a company that just works well. And number two, when you’re ready to hire yes. You know, a developer go to top tile, but when you’re ready to hire a finance person to come in and help, go check out top.

Talent.com/mixergy. Thank you so much for listening everyone. Thanks so much for being on here, Doug.

Douglas Baldasar: Thank you.

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