Israeli solar-powered phone case could eliminate the need to plug in

Mengesha’s idea first formed when he recalled his time serving in the IDF in the late 90s.

July 9, 2019 21:43
2 minute read.
Israeli solar-powered phone case could eliminate the need to plug in

A mock up of the solar-powered battery charging phone case. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A case designed to recharge cellphones using solar energy has been invented by an Israeli entrepreneur and will debut later this month in Tel Aviv.

Inventor Benny Mengesha came up with the Multi-Functional Case (MFC), which will first be presented on July 24 at the 7th annual TheMarker Tau Innovation Summit (TMTI). Mengesha will debut the case before 6,000 participants and visitors as well as 70 judges at the start-up competition.

The idea first arose when Mengesha recalled his time serving in the IDF in the late ‘90s.

“I had an old, bulky Nokia phone with a huge battery behind it,” he said with a laugh.

After doing market research and discussing with a friend, he realized that combining charging capabilities with a phone case is a “perfect combination” because of its convenience.

“The main problem that people have with smartphone cases is that when they buy extensions for a case, they’re stuck with that case,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “If a user buys an extension for a case and doesn’t need it at a particular time, it is impossible to remove.”

The MFC device is made of thinner and lighter materials, and can be mounted and removed as needed. Case sizing will also be available for iPhones and Android devices, as well as for tablets, laptops and other electronic devices.

“When I disconnect the charging feature, I still get the case,” Mengesha explained. “It’s not bulky and it’s user-friendly; there’s no complexity.”

He emphasized that traditionally, when functionalities are added to phone cases, it is at the cost of another feature – with that feature usually being comfort.

One can view products similar to MFC on Amazon – although, as described, they come at the cost of compromising storage capabilities or issues with the charging ports, according to user reviews.

The device presents a large market-entry opportunity. Hundreds of millions of people around the world live in isolation from cities or live in areas where electricity is scarce.

“The plan is to be global,” Mengesha said. “Israel is not just the only market. And I have more product ideas.”

Despite his background as a programmer and information technology specialist, Mengesha described the process of getting the MFC on its feet as “exhausting.”

“I drove all over Israel, meeting engineers and showing them my ideas,” he said. “Some of them told me I was crazy or that it was a tough market.”

Similar experiences happened to him when he approached law firms for patent rights.

He built the idea up with his own time and money, and said that the process took around three to four years. Nonetheless, Mengesha is not deterred: He plans to keep innovating.

 “I’m a technological guy,” he said. “I’m a troubleshooter and that’s what I like to do.”

However, at the moment, he wants to see his MFC product “make it to the finish line.”

“I want to see it on a store shelf,” he said. “And I want someone to be buying it and I want to see it improving someone’s life.”

Mengesha’s product will be pitted against 70 other start-ups and presented in front of 150 investors, with a $250,000 prize being given to the winning start-up. The TMTI summit has historically drawn in representatives of organizations and companies from Israel, the US and the Far East.

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