Attempts at solving the problem of being stuck with a dead phone and no way to charge it have varied from the old, like asking the bartender if there's a cord and plug behind the bar, to wireless pads strategically placed in nightclubs, to iPhone cases with their own battery life.
But a Chicago entrepreneur thinks she's got a more practical
solution: turning the handbag you'd probably be carrying anyway into a charger.
Liz Salcedo, 27, is the brains behind Everpurse, a small clutch that has a pocket with a charger sewn into its lining. It's currently gaining momentum on the crowd funding platform Kickstarter.
The idea for the purse, Salcedo said, came out of her job as a social worker whose day often began with trips to unfamiliar locations, and ended with a drained phone and no way to get in touch with people.
"A lot of Google maps," Salcedo told The Huffington Post. "Obviously, that uses a lot of battery on your phone."
Salcedo said her husband, Dan, happens to be the kind of guy who might build his own PC just for fun -- he's also previously worked with four start-ups -- so he was able to create a wireless charging device with off-the-shelf parts. Salcedo then took a purse she didn't care much about, ripped out the lining and sewed the device in.
"All of sudden I had full battery all day long," Salcedo said. "Friends stared asking to borrow my bag when we were out to dinner."
That prompted her to start making the bags for friends and in turn, getting valuable feedback on how to refine its features.
Everpurse will be compatible with an iPhone4 and the soon-to-be-available iPhone 5, but Salcedo said she's also working on one that will accommodate Androids. Kickstarter backers eligible to receive a bag will be able to specify the type of phone they have.
While Salcedo isn't the first to develop a phone-charging purse -- fashion designer Richard Nicoll debuted a similar idea in February -- she said her product is distinct because it does not involve cords that need to be toted around in the bag. Users can drop the phone in the purse's pocket without having to fidget or align the phone with the charger the way they would with a dock.
The purse gets its own battery life from being laid on a charging mat. Once on the mat, the purse needs around six hours to fully charge, but it can then provide phones with two rounds of 12-hour charges. The clutch comes in leather, for a $159 Kickstarter donation, or in fabric for $129. (Salcedo said she's also thinking about developing more a masculine version, but that so far, the black version of the clutch has been androgynous enough to appeal to a surprising number of men.)
With 29 days left, the Everpurse project is well on its way to becoming fully funded: Backers already have pledged more than $70,000 of the $100,000 goal that's necessary for the money to be passed along to the founders.
Still, with Kickstarter, popularity can come with problems: Several Kickstarter projects have gone on to raise above and beyond their founders' expected goals, and that's led to complaints of over-promising and under-delivering. Several projects have been plagued by manufacturing delays, and some founders have not communicated those delays to their backers, thus leaving them in the dark about just what's happened to their money.
Salcedo said she recognizes these potential pitfalls and is prepared for the unpredictability of how many purses she'll need to get to her backers.
"We do have relationships with a number of manufacturers so that ... depending on how high Kickstarter goes, we have [them] ready to go at low levels and at high levels," she said.
Should Everpurse meet its funding goals, deliveries are slated for March 2013.