Bolstered by a Kickstarter raise of nearly $200K, smart bag maker Phorce wants to revolutionize mobility
A Q&A with Phorce co-founder Marijn Berk. The Amsterdam–based company was founded in 2012 and exceeded its Kickstarter funding goal by raising $199,950.
SUB: Please describe Phorce and your value proposition.
Berk: Phorce is the world’s first smart bag. Phorce makes your mobile devices, and yourself, more mobile. Phorce charges your devices on the go, changes shape to match your surroundings, communicates with your smartphone, and much more. It’s the ultimate mobile experience.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Berk: Phorce is targeted at users of mobile devices that enjoy the freedom to work and play from anywhere.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Berk: There are other bags with batteries, but they are barely powerful enough to charge your phone, are of poor quality and design, and leave many other problems unsolved. Then there are separate battery packs that you could throw it into a random bag. We’ve designed Phorce from the ground up—it’s not just a bag with a battery—it’s an entirely new way to carry your mobile devices. All its technology is beautifully integrated and easy to use, and it’s a top-quality bag that’s constructed using only the best materials. It also looks damn cool.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Berk: It all started about a year ago with a very simple question: how can we make our mobile devices more mobile? Which lead to another question: How do we bring our mobile devices with us? The answer: in our bags. A bag is one of the very few products that you use on a daily basis, and that you bring with you wherever you go. A revolutionary new bag will therefore have a huge positive impact on your everyday life—whether you’re walking around your hometown or visiting another continent, your bag is with you. After evaluating the bags that are out there, it became apparent there was a massive opportunity to do things better.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Berk: First we actually had a different name, Portafo, which stood for portability and force, had a logo designed, etc., but Phorce seemed stickier so we went with that instead. Luckily it started with the same letter so we could keep the logo.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Berk: One of the hardest things—as for most startups—was to find the right people to make it happen, and to stick to our schedule of doing a soft launch and Kickstarter campaign before Christmas.
SUB: Why did you choose to initiate a Kickstarter campaign rather than seeking equity funding?
Berk: We wanted to learn from the market and validate demand for the product. We knew Kickstarter was ideal for low-cost—$25-$125—products with a limited feature set. Phorce offers great value but has a higher price tag, and is quite feature-packed, so due to this sub-optimal fit we considered it a solid place to test demand.
SUB: How does the company plan to generate revenue?
Berk: By selling great products.
SUB: What are your goals for Phorce over the next year or so?
Berk: We will bring Phorce to market and establish a solid foundation from which to grow the business. We’re receiving a lot of interest from investors, retailers and distributors who see this as the future of bags and luggage—a recession-proof market expected to reach $48.4 billion by 2015. Besides growing sales, we’ll continue to develop our patent-pending products to stay miles ahead of the competition.
Phorce – www.getphorce.com