Power bank firm spot on

money-glitz | Gary Poon 21 Jan 2019

ChargeSpot, the world's first globally connected power bank sharing service founded in Hong Kong, has already expanded to Japan, Thailand and Malaysia, and is seeking to go public in 2021.

While Lan Kwai Fong Group chairman Allan Zeman, a board member of Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, was among those participated in ChargeSpot's roadshow in November.

"We have a subsidiary in Thailand, and are collaborating with Gintail, a massage chair firm, to form a joint-venture company in Malaysia," cofounder Davis Chan said, adding that ChargeSpot has nearly 1,500 locations in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur at present.

There are currently 7,000 spots in Japan with a target of 20,000 by the end of this year.

In Hong Kong, there are 3,000 machines in public places, including hotels, restaurants and shopping malls.

This means the power bank battery charging units can be rented out in Japan and returned in Hong Kong.

Chan said that the company also plans to expand its business to Macau and Singapore, and is actively seeking partners in Taiwan and Indonesia. However, there are no plans to enter the mainland market, which he described as "too competitive."

"Power bank sharing service providers are limited in Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, and European countries, which is the reason why we can develop into one of the leaders in the market," Chan said.

"But the market is too competitive in the mainland.

"The company would need to burn up a lot of capital resources if we decided to develop there."

He said ChargeSpot is aiming to launch an initial public offering in 2021 - perhaps via a weighted voting rights structure - and has retained an accounting firm to prepare for it.

Meanwhile, the company is also continuing to look for new investors to further develop its business.

"If our cash flow is strong enough and the profit is high enough, whether a public listing is successful or not is not really important," Chan said.

"However, our big goal is to develop to be an unicorn that was made in Hong Kong."

Existing investors include a Japan conglomerate and eight chief executives or managers from different Hong Kong-listed companies.

Meanwhile, iclick Interactive, an advertising firm, is collaborating with ChargeSpot to display customers' promotions on its machines, and expects the power bank sharing service to rake in US$30 million (HK$234 million) revenue annually from the cooperation.

Chan said all his company's hardware costs can be totally covered in only two to three months, after the expected advertising revenue starts rolling in.

The number of machine screens for providing information will grow to at least 40,000 in this year, he said, allowing their advertising customers to formulate their marketing strategy.

Chan said ChargeSpot may grow its business to other regions or industries after its public listing.

"Some potential investors have asked us whether ChargeSpot is willing to expand to the pocket Wi-Fi business.

"However, we believe that the price of mobile data would become very low when the 5G mobile network is launched, so we have no plans to go there," he said.

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