It’s never easy setting up a startup, especially in Palestine where it’s impossible to import hardware and just as difficult to find funding. But crowdfunded Bold Knot’s top-up battery pack may transform the way we charge our devices, says Monty Munford
Sometimes I talk to my 12-year-old son about the bad old days when the internet bandwidth he enjoys as a matter of course was as low as the pre-teenage expectations he has of my parenting.
Fifteen years ago I was waiting for dial-up connections to finally work while today’s young people weave in and out of 4G and WiFi as deftly as they play the Crossy Road game on their tablets.
With kids it’s all about the WiFi password wherever they are; the magic letters, runes and numbers that give them the keys to the kingdom of games, messaging and their equally online friends. Their only anxiety is whether their panoply of devices are charged or not.
When they are older, the concern about whether a device is charged or not will be as effete as the lack of bandwidth our generation used to endure. Not only will the Internet of Things have transformed our existence, but some form of technology will undoubtedly have been invented to render chargers obsolete.
This bounty will not appear overnight. There will be several stepping stones to this Nirvana and a future time when laptop bags are not overladen with acaudate gadgets that need their charging tails to exist.
One such stepping stone may have arrived from a very unusual source; a country that was granted UN non-member observer status in 2012, but whose most immediate country regards them with enmity. This so-called territory is Palestine, the technology is a smart piece of kit called Bold Knot and the neighbour is Israel.
Originally crowdfunded (and overfunded) on Indiegogo for almost $70,000 after an original appeal for $15,000, the people behind Bold Knot describe the product as ‘the world’s fastest iPhone charger… in a keychain’, effectively a USB battery pack that can be attached to a keyring.
Crucially, it looks good too. The USB cable is made of strong parachute cords that keep the cable flexible and strain-free. Consequently, Bold Knot is durable and should last longer than any other chargers as both the cable and the battery inside the knot are well protected with casing and fabric.
It does this by blocking the data transfer between the charger and the device when plugged into a mobile or tablet. This transfer can consume almost 50 per cent of the power; sometimes the best ideas are the simple ones.
Taking such a product to market is not an easy proposition for a Palestinian company. The Israeli regulator, who owns the spectrum above Palestine, has to sign off on any hardware products that are imported into Palestine.
This very slow and deliberate process leads to imported products being abandoned and means Palestinian startups are challenged in ways their counterparts in other territories cannot even begin to imagine.
Bold Knot overcame this by reaching out to the tech-friendly country of Estonia, rapidly becoming the anti-scoundrel country to which every startup clings. Its Buildit Hardware Accelerator welcomes emerging companies from all over the world. It even offers national digital ‘e-residence’ to non-Estonians, intending to attract up to ten million ‘digital citizens’ by 2025.
“We sought an international fund, were accepted at the Buildit Hardware Accelerator in Estonia and received €10,000 fund in return for equity in the company. We couldn’t have launched or taken the project anywhere before leaving Palestine,” said Lama Mansour, Bold Knot’s co-founder.
Palestine and Estonia appear to be strange tech bedfellows, but both are young countries trying to make their mark with their respective neighbours of Israel and Russia not particularly supportive of their existence.
While politics may dictate modern-day exoduses from Palestine to Estonia, it is the entrepreneurial spirit that means such hurdles have to be overcome.
Bold Knot’s creators are certainly bold. Moreover they are innovative and a literal moveable feast. Moreover, their product is very good; may the charger walls fall down.