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Entrepreneurs
Business Observer Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 2 years ago

Charged up

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Sales momentum continued to build at Go Puck in 2016. Next year holds some major promise.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributing Writer

Bigger, faster, stronger. That not only describes the newest product launch from Sarasota-based Go Puck, but also the company itself during the past year. The maker of portable USB charging kits recently launched its Go Puck 6XR, a $100 premium charger that uses Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology to quickly power up devices such as iPhones and GoPro cameras.

“It charges phones faster than anything else in the same category,” says company founder and CEO Blake Fuller. “And it fits in the palm of your hand. For the same thing with the same amount of power, our competitors are two to three times larger. The response from everyone who's seen it and used it is, 'Wow, this is what a product in this category should be. This is what we've been waiting for.'”

Fuller says the 6XR is the company's strongest seller month over month. Go Puck's 2016 sales rang in at almost four times its 2015 numbers, though the company didn't quite hit Fuller's earlier prediction of $30 million in sales in 2016.

Expanded sales channels have helped put Go Pucks into more people's hands. New retail outlets include Sam's Club, which is testing the company's products in the Florida market with potential for expansion into other regions in early 2017. Go Puck chargers are also now available on BestBuy.com, with a move into Best Buy brick-and-mortar stores likely in 2017.

Fuller has kept building off of previous successes in the hospitality market, such as the deal he struck earlier in 2016 with Universal Studios Orlando to rent and sell Go Pucks to parkgoers. He's made a similar rental-to-retail deal with Busch Gardens and Adventure Island in Tampa, where visitors can rent a Go Puck for a half or full day and then apply that rental rate toward purchasing one if they want to take it home.

He's also gotten Go Pucks into hotels like Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys and various Wyndham properties in the southeastern United States, where guests can rent the wearable chargers by the pool or from locations offering other rental items like bikes. And the company is starting a pilot program with rental-car companies in the Sarasota area. “You can rent power as you rent your car — and still have power when you leave the car,” says Fuller.

Fuller sees plenty of potential for Go Puck outside of the retail and hospitality sectors. He's rolling out a multiunit “freedom station” at Sarasota Memorial Hospital that can charge hundreds of devices in a shift. “As that is tested and proven, the goal is to serve as many health care devices as we can in the hospital that can be powered by USB,” he says.

But all that potential can prove problematic. “The biggest challenge for our company has been that we have had more opportunities than we've been able to explore,” says Fuller. “It's really about how to strategically pick the markets we go after first.”

Keeping up with demand and interest can be tough. “We're a hardware company that's growing as fast as a software company, and software is easily scalable,” says Fuller. The firm's been working to ramp up fulfillment and is in the midst of a series A fundraising round to help address things like the supply chain.

Fuller's also powering up some new ventures, establishing partnerships with Silicon Valley companies working in fields like computer processing and data storage. “When you think about what you take with you every day on your phone, it's a powerful tool,” he says. “Yet it could benefit from additional storage or media platforms. So it's really exciting the things we're working on. It's about building on [what we already have] and creating an ever-evolving platform.”

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