Startmate Demo Day: Wireless charging startup NOA The Brand is cutting the cord on a tangled life

- April 12, 2024 5 MIN READ
Christel Hadiwibawa and Arvin Bayat
NOA The Brand cofounders Christel Hadiwibawa and Arvin Bayat.

Ahead of Startmate Demo Day on May 2 in Sydney at Blackbird’s Sunrise, Startup Daily is profiling the 10 startups involved.

We kick off with NOA The Brand.

NOA The Brand is on a mission to untether humanity from the world of cords, and their breakthrough tech could change the way we power just about everything. 

“We want to be the Intel of wireless charging,” says the Sydney-based startup’s co-founder Christel Hadiwibawa. 

Even though wireless charging has been on the market for years, the tech is far from perfect. It’s difficult to implement, has a high cost of integration, slow power transmission, and wastes a lot of energy. NOA has a fix for every bug – and they might just transform the world. ‍

“We’re aiming to be like the USB standard, within 10 years,” says co-founder Arvin Bayat.

‍An instant spark

Bayat’s passion for battery charging solutions began at the tender age of fourteen and he’s been obsessed ever since. While finding new ways to power the world might have always been his destiny, the formation of NOA The Brand happened almost by chance.

In 2018, Hadiwibawa, whose background was in design, needed someone who understood technology to help with a product she was developing.

“I was working on a desk organiser that had special compartments for your keys, phone, and wallet – and I wanted to have a wireless charging feature for the phone section,” said Hadiwibawa.

Hadiwibawa was introduced to Bayat via Martin Boehnel, an eventual co-founder of NOA, who is no longer with the company.

The initial plan was to work with Boehnel and Bayat as consultants, but it quickly evolved into a partnership.

“We were going to be paid a royalty,” recalls Bayat, “but after the first couple of meetings, it felt more like a collaboration. So we thought, why not build something together?”

The first meeting was in late 2018 and a few months later NOA was incorporated as a company.

Ending the flood of cords

NOA The Brand might sound like a strange name for a wireless charging company, but there is a good story behind it.

Hadiwibawa explains: “It originated from our co-founder Marty as a spin-off from Noah’s Ark, which was designed to save the world from the great flood. Our name was chosen to represent saving the world from cords and cables. It was originally supposed to be just NOA, but that name was already taken so we chose ‘NOA The Brand,’ later realising it sounds like ‘no other brand’ if you say it fast enough.”

After tinkering on their desk design for a few months the team quickly discovered that they were missing a greater opportunity. ‍

“We realised that the wireless charging tech had to be its own thing, so we decided to create a standalone product,” Hadiwibawa said.

COVID crunch and the big pivot

NOA’s first product, the ‘Daytripper’ was a premium wireless charging power bank for mobile phones. They launched the device in 2021 with a successful Kickstarter campaign. ‍

“We set a modest target of $18,000 and ended up raising over $50,000,” said Hadiwibawa – an impressive feat when you consider that they were selling a premium wireless charging product called ‘Daytripper’ while half of the world was in lockdown.

The triumph was short-lived. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on global supply chains, causing delays and exorbitant costs. The logistical nightmare created a period of stress-induced burnout, which led them to consider throwing in the towel.

Then, almost as if an answer to the cry for help, Bayat received a call from his old friend who worked for a technology company based out of Newcastle that specialises in safety tests for machinery and plant equipment in the mining and construction industries.

“They described their problems around wireless charging for their new product that monitored high-pressure hydraulic systems for heavy machinery,” said Bayat.

“And we realised that there were no solutions to their problems.”

The discussion was an awakening for Bayat and the team again gained a new sense of clarity around the true value of his company’s underlying asset. ‍

“That was the moment where we knew we had to pivot our whole business, forget about individual products, and go hardcore on the technology,” said Bayat.

“We went back to our investors who had believed in our technology since day dot and we told them the situation. Thankfully they were very supportive,” said Hadiwibawa.

With a top-up investment led by long-time supporter Philip Argy – a commercial lawyer specialising in intellectual property, science, and technology, and a renowned committee member at Sydney Angels –  NOA The Brand transformed its business model from direct-to-consumer to business-to-business. ‍

“From Daytripper to now, we feel like a different company, and we feel like completely different people,” said Hadiwibawa.

Cool solutions for hot problems‍

Even though they’ve only been operating for a few years, NOA’s innovation is already showing revolutionary potential. The current industry standard for wireless charging has an average efficiency of 60% but NOA The Brand can boast averages of 80% to 90% efficiency.

“If you add up how many devices we have in our homes and how many devices there are in the world, that could add up to an enormous amount of energy saving globally,” said Bayat, “which also means a lot less greenhouse gas emissions.”

NOA is also focused on scalability and adaptability. Most current products on the market lock manufacturers into a certain protocol, but NOA wants to create a versatile product that will unlock a huge range of use cases.

Besides increased energy efficiency,  the technology’s other great drawcards are the heat and safety features.

“Existing wireless chargers can get extremely hot, up to 80 or 90 degrees Celsius. Ours run at a much cooler 28-29 degrees,” says Bayat.

The safety benefits of wireless tech are particularly relevant to rugged environments where grease, grime, and weather can damage charging ports and threaten operations. ‍

“In underground explosive mining, for example,” Bayat explained.

“One tiny spark could blow up a whole mine and cause millions of dollars worth of damage. So the ports and cables have to go through a huge amount of safety testing. With wireless charging, you can just drop and go with minimal risk, and it could be deployed right now.”

Charging into the future

NOA’s initial focus will be on rugged and portable Internet of Things (IoT) devices, after that they plan to expand to robotics, medical equipment, autonomous vehicles, and eventually the world of infrastructure.

“We want to work with people at the cutting edge. We’re already in discussions with a leading design engineering firm and in talks about wireless charging for drones,” said Hadiwibawa. ‍

“I think autonomous robotics will be huge in the future,” added Bayat.

“With our tech, we’ll be able to have robots or autonomous delivery vehicles working around the clock enabling people to live, work, and connect better.”

Eventually, NOA’s tech could become so integrated into our daily lives that we’ll end up cutting the cord for good.

“Imagine a world where your TVs, kitchen appliances, computers, and cars, are all powered up without a cable,” says Bayat.

“One day our tech might even replace the wall socket altogether.”

* Catch NOA The Brand at Startmate Demo Day on May 2. Buy tickets here.

Apply for Startmate’s next Accelerator cohort here.

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