Sunday, June 20, 2010


Today, while basking in the Central Park sun, I looked over and noticed a sign reading "Charge your phone here."  I was intrigued.  Not because I needed to charge my phone, but because I was in the presence of a really smart business idea.  I immediately went over and started talking to Victor, the man behind the plan.

He sits out in the middle of Sheep's Meadow on a sunny day where tourists and locals throw frisbees and sip their mojitos and Coors.  The only piece of advertising is a nice, simple sign attached to a walking stick.  He waits.  They come.

Victor has a fully charged battery inside his backpack.  He charges the battery from home.  As you can see in the photos, he also has a solar panel.  He says the panel basically just "keeps the battery fully charged."  He can plug several phones in at one time, having most types of chargers to suit an array of phones.  A typical charge for a dead phone takes about 30 minutes to fill back up.  The cost?  Tips.  That's right, he works only for tips.  There is no set charge.  He says most people tip him about $5.  Sometimes a little more.  Seems like a super good deal considering the closest Apple store is at 5th or the new Upper West Side location.

In the time I observed Victor's walkup traffic - about 1 hour - he took in nearly 10 customers.  As I spoke with him there were three phones charging on his charging docks.  He said "yeah, two of these belong to these guys (the fellas in the photo just above) and the other one to that group over there.  They're gonna charge about 30 minutes or so."

He's been at it for about a week now, coming to the park, plugging people in, and saving them precious play time on sunny days.  When the day is over, he packs it all into his backpack, unfolds his scooter, and rides off.

If you happen to see Victor in the park on a day when you need a refill, give him a visit.  Not only is he offering a great service, he's also a really nice guy.