Wednesday Apr 16, 2014
Marijn Berk - entrepreneur specializing in consumer electronics, nanotechnology and portable power.
Marijn Berk is an established Amsterdam-based entrepreneur specializing in consumer electronics, nanotechnology and portable power. He is a former Kauffman Foundation scholar, recipient of a Startup Chile grant, and was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year in his home country. His previous company, which created solar chargers that enabled off-grid consumers in the developing world to charge their mobile phones, won iF and Reddot design awards. Phorce’s designer, James Jeffrey has 10 years of experience designing and shipping bags for major brands like Knomo and Crumpler, where he was head of design for 3 years. Please visit www.getphorce.com for more information.
Q&A with Marijn Berk are followed :
CU Q:What is Phorce?
Marijn Berk:Phorce is the world’s first smart bag: this means that it integrates fully with your life. It powers, transforms and connects with your most valuable and everyday gadgets; built for Mac (15" MacBook Pro or smaller) and PC laptops (up to 14").
CU Q:Aren’t there other bags already out there that can connect, transform and power your gadgets?
Marijn Berk:Some of Phorce's features and technologies are unique, and even patent-pending. You're right that some of these features exist in other bags. What's unique is not only the combination of various features, but how well those features are executed. In essence: Phorce doesn't just introduce innovative new features & combine the best features found in other bags, but it actually does each of these things better. Most importantly, it's about how all its features seamlessly work together to provide a truly holistic user experience. Phorce is the ultimate bag for today's mobile age.
CU Q:How does this bag power better than other bags with the power accessory?
Marijn Berk:Other bags have attempted to power mobile devices, however they either had very low battery capacity, which meant you had to charge them every day, and their batteries were often not neatly integrated. Many also had fixed cables, which meant they could only charge specific devices, and when you'd buy a new device, or when a cable broke, you could no longer charge your devices. Phorce features 3 usb-ports so you can charge any usb-device (smartphones, tablets, GoPro and other cameras, noise-canceling headphones, etc.), now and in the future. It's powerful enough to charge an iPhone 5 over 8 times. We basically designed it to provide more power than you need, so it's always there when you need it and hardly ever have to recharge it. Phorce is also very light and compact, so it's comfortable to carry around all day. Finally, it's beautifully integrated, keeping your bag neat and organized.
CU Q:What’s the space in Phorce like?
Marijn Berk:Phorce is a compact bag, but still large enough to bring water bottles, headphones, magazines, and even some books. However, Phorce can also expand. Other bags usually can't expand at all, and if they can, only the bottom half of the bag expands, which really doesn't do much. The ones that do expend look extremely complex- like the kind of bags you would take with you on a survival trip to the jungle. Phorce's 360-degree waterproof expansion zipper looks clean and simple, yet it can quickly expand to create over 240 cubic inches of additional storage space. Why choose between a compact bag and a big bag that can hold lots of stuff, when you can have both?
CU Q:Other bags can also transforms. What makes Phorce different?
Marijn Berk:This is a feature that's been tried over and over again, yet no one ever got it right. The reason is that other bag makers would choose the easy route: they'd add a second set of straps, it would work better as a messenger than as a backpack, etc. Most importantly though, their efforts resulted in bags that looked terrible no matter how you'd carry them. We wanted to do things differently with Phorce: It has a single strap system that can be used as a single (messenger) or double shoulder strap (backpack). It can transform without requiring any additional components, so it can even be done on the go. Most importantly, Phorce is great as a briefcase, fantastic as a messenger, and phenomenal as a backpack, in terms of both form & function.
CU Q:Does the Phorce really connect to your gadgets?
Marijn Berk:Phorce can monitor things for you so you don't have to: rather than having to check how much power is left, you can simply ask Phorce to send you a reminder when you've used a certain percentage of its battery capacity. If you want to check things for yourself though, you can open the Phorce app on your phone (iOS & Android) and intuitive graphics will display exactly how many times you can still charge all your devices. It's very useful, and it's kind of cool.
CU Q:How does it prevent loss?
Marijn Berk:Phorce connects to your smartphone via bluetooth, and if you and your phone get too far away from the bag, your Phorce bag will send a notification to your smartphone, asking you if you left your bag behind. This way, you can quickly run around and save your bag (and your laptop, tablet, etc. inside). This is a completely new feature: no bag has ever had an app, but we felt that it was important -not just for displaying details about its available power- but for its anti-loss feature.
CU Q:The bag does a lot. Does it sacrifice design for all its benefits?
Marijn Berk:Besides all its functions, we wanted Phorce to be great-looking and fun. You spend a lot of time with your bag, so why not make it more enjoyable? Its magnetic black suede handles are not just very comfortable and useful, but they put a smile on your face every time you close your bag. Its minimalist design is simply awesome, no matter how you decide to carry it. Opening the Phorce app on your smartphone and checking out the intuitive graphics that show exactly how much power is left, and how often you can still charge your devices, is just cool.
CU Q:How does it help me at the airport or while I’m traveling?
Marijn Berk:There's lots of ways: from being able to slide Phorce over the telescopic handles of your trolley bag when you are traveling, to a quick-access laptop pocket for easier security checks, to a custom-coated water-resistant outer shell, to a special lining inside the pockets that removes fingerprints from your devices- it's all there.
CU Q:What would you say is the one great unifying feature of the bag?
Marijn Berk:Best of all is how all of Phorce's features seamlessly integrate and complement each other. Phorce is high-tech, but it's certainly not technological- in fact, it's got plug & play simplicity.
CU Q:Where can I buy Phorce?
Marijn Berk:Right now you can pre-order one on our Kickstarter page [insert link here when live], where we are raising $150,000 to take the next steps and get Phorce made. Oh, and if you like what you're hearing and seeing, please tell your friends :) We can't wait to get this awesome product in your hands!