Solar-powered battery charger takes top prize in Drexel incubator competition

 A rendering of the Spore charger. (Courtesy of Jason Browne)

A rendering of the Spore charger. (Courtesy of Jason Browne)

Every year, Drexel’s Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship puts on a competition. Startups launched by Drexel students and alumni compete for grants, as well as space inside the institute’s startup incubator.

This year the top winner was a startup called Spore, which makes solar-powered battery chargers.

“They’re charging phones, they’re charging tablets,” said Jason Browne, a Drexel senior and Spore’s CEO. “They can charge cameras, they can charge anything that charges via USB.”

Browne and his business partner David Hunt, another Drexel senior, now have $10,000 and some workspace to get their company up and running. The company has already teamed up with NextFab Studio to make a unit that actually works. Technically Philly profiled Spore after the idea won a hackathon earlier this year.

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Next step, Browne says, is raising more funding.

“Mostly we’re trying to use this $10,000 to make some really high-quality prototypes that we feel comfortable showing and highlighting in our Kickstarter video,” said Browne.

Spore is Browne’s first company but, he says, probably not his last.

Terri Zobel of the Baiada Institute says launching entrepreneurial careers is a goal of the incubator. Exposure to experts, mentors and connections is a major boost for the fledgling companies who win, she says.

“Companies that are born in incubators actually have a greater chance of success than those trying to start it alone — in a garage or, you know, your basement,” said Zobel.

It’s the first year since the competition began in 2001 that all three winners were from the school’s business college. 

The other winners were BookSmart, a web platform for booking concerts, and Skyless Games, a video game development company.

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