Story from a founder: How I turned my prototype into a real product
iAccelerate resident Tor Gerde recently published an insightful piece about the origins of his company MojoElectro, discussing his process of developing “The MojoFirecharger” making access to limited electricity at every corner of the world a reality.
*This article was first published by UOW Global Challenges.
While hiking in the mountains of my home country in Norway, and taking in the nature with aerial photography, I ran into a big problem. All of my gadgets started “dying” on me because the batteries were running low – I needed some sort of way to generate power/electricity and quickly!
I arrived in Australia in June 2015. While settling into student life at UOW, I came across Global Challenges’ InnovationWorks! Student Prototype Competition.
I had enrolled in a Mechatronic Engineering degree, so I was really looking forward to making all kinds of electrical circuits and to learn more about how the technology we surround ourselves with on a daily basis, actually works. My classes and lectures allowed me to gain theoretical knowledge, but entering the InnovationWorks! competition enabled me to also start developing my practical skills over a number of weeks in the lab with specialist advice. It allowed me the perfect platform to start solving the problem I had back home while hiking the mountains.
After a lot of research looking into electricity-generator solutions, including solar cells, batteries and dynamos, I bumped into the principals of passive thermoelectric generator modules. Despite the relative low efficiency in todays modules, I found that by implementing this technology into a system of innovative cooling methods I was able to solve my problem in the most effective way without adding too much weight in my backpack.
- Photos: Supplied by Tor Gerde
In the end this meant that I could theoretically cover the need for power by converting heat generated from either the campfires I would make during my hikes or from the gas-burner I would also be carrying with me, into electricity. I loved the thought of almost being a completely “self-sufficient” backpacker with the ability to make electricity for my fancy gadgets far away from any power-socket. The next stage was to make this a reality and start building a prototype.
After creating the first working prototype, I realised this could be an extremely useful minimalist piece of equipment – helping others who would have the need to generate power whilst in the wilderness. Specifically, looking at areas where electricity is a scarcity, and there was little to no access. This gadget would allow people to stay connected to the internet and other communication networks, essential in the case of an emergency.
As the winner of the InnovationWorks! 2016 competition meant I got to participate in UOW Pitch as well. This gave me the opportunity to pitch my prototype to a panel, which got my foot in the door in UOW’s startup incubator, iAccelerate. With a scholarship here in this awesome community I’m in the process of developing “The MojoFirecharger” making access to limited electricity at every corner of the world a reality.
Learn more about iAccelerate Start company MojoElectro.