We talk to Eoin Cooney, co-founder of works with TrackR partner, ARROE. They want to revolutionize the way you carry and charge your tech gear – with the built-in protection of TrackR. Their Indiegogo campaign launches June 27.
What’s the main problem your product solves for your customers?
Being able to charge all your devices. That’s the essence of ARROE’s first product, LAER .
There are two parts to that problem, actually.
The first is that you can buy power banks to charge your devices on the go, but most people find the ones for laptops quite difficult to use. You need to know what voltage your laptop is and then set the power bank accordingly, and for the average person that’s just a no-go area. Particularly because if you do it wrong, you could ruin your laptop. With LAER, that’s automatic.
The second thing is, you have to remember to charge the power bank. LAER means fewer things to remember. Rather than having to charge your phone, your laptop and your power bank, you just charge LAER. Because you’re charging all of your devices through LAER, simultaneously.
It really streamlines the process for the consumer and makes their lives simpler. And the tracking technology is embedded to keep all of your devices protected.
How did you come to the idea of integrating TrackR technology into the product?
We wanted it from the beginning. A good laptop today costs around $2,000 – it’s not something you want to lose! We got in touch with the works with TrackR program because I was already familiar with the brand. You guys just do tracking really well. We didn’t want to take on that element ourselves, because our product is about developing the charging aspect.
What inspired the three of you to start ARROE?
I guess the story of ARROE starts some time ago. I’ve always worked in the consumer goods industry, but I started off working in fashion. Back in 2009, I was working for Orla Kiely, and Apple approached us to do a range of accessories with them – laptop bags, phone and tablet cases. I built it into a global category. After that I realized: This is the area that I want to focus on.
In 2015, I left my job and started up a company called Slaint, which is still going. The original idea was to create bags with an integrated charging system. We did two lines of men’s luxury leather bags – at a high price point, so quite niche – and while the feature was the charging element, the focus was mostly on the design of the product. We designed really different products.
We got a lot of feedback saying basically that people wanted the functionality, but they also wanted the option to move the technology from one bag to the other.
And that’s where the idea for ARROE came in.
Who’s on team ARROE? How did you all come together?
My co-founder, Romain Pascal, is a designer who has worked with a lot of major brands across different industries. He’s an industrial designer by trade. Romain actually worked with us on the first Slaint bag as a partner.
Previously, I had some dealings with Blocks. They crowd funded a couple of years ago and raised over $2 million to become the world’s first modular smartwatch.
While I was working with them at another company, we did a collaboration, and that was how I got to know our Head of Hardware, Aksat Shah.
Aksat is amazing – he is very talented and really knows what he’s doing. He came on board with us and then we spent a year developing this perfect product.
We finished the prototype a couple of months ago and it all started to take off. We partnered with TrackR. And now we’re days away from launching our campaign for ARROE’s first product, LAER.
ARROE and LAER are great names. Product naming is hard! Where did these come from?
With ARROE, I loved the idea of an arrow moving forward, since we’re working with technology. But I love the look and feel of vowels, to make the name unconventional. We wanted to keep that branding consistent throughout.
That’s how we got the spelling of LAER. Because the product is essentially made up of layers.
What sets your product apart from the competition?
Well, there’s actually no other product like ours. On the fashion side, there are bags that have power banks embedded inside them. And there are power banks. But there are so many elements to our product that are unique.
We offer the first and only Bluetooth-enabled power bank. That means it’s controllable from an app. You can track it. You can turn it on and off. You can manage the battery levels. That is a world first; it doesn’t exist on the market at all.
We’ve also figured out a way to charge PCs, the new MacBooks and the old MacBooks. Nobody else has something that does all three, and is also super easy to use.
Rather than fixing an integrated battery into our product, we’ve created a cartridge system so you can switch out the battery depending on your needs that day. So, if you’re only going to be out for part of the day, you can switch the battery capacity of the system to something lighter.
That’s important to the customer because you might not want to carry the weight of a 20,000 mAh battery if you’ll only be out for a couple of hours. But if you’re going on a trip, you might want that extra capacity.
That’s completely unique to our products as well.
What does the current landscape of fashion and tech integration look like to you?
Well, what we’ve seen are a lot of fashion brands that will collaborate with a tech brand on a one-off and then the product becomes redundant within 12 months. There’s no follow up. Consumers know that and it stops them from supporting it.
You’ve also got a lot of wearable brands with a fashion edge. A lot of those brands are approaching the design from the point of view of: This technology is available, how do we put it in a product? Rather than thinking about the customers’ needs and then putting that in a product.
But that’s all slowly changing.
What tech companies do you think are really nailing it from an aesthetic perspective?
Well, Apple, of course. They’ve been a huge influence on the industry in general.
What do you carry in your briefcase?
Well, I can answer that two ways: Before LAER and After LAER.
Before LAER? A MacBook, a power bank, my phone, a pen. Maybe a tracking device in there permanently, just in case. Cables for charging. I carry my wallet and keys in my pockets.
After LAER? Just LAER, with my MacBook and phone. It’s got everything else built in. There’s also room for cables or connectors if needed. (But I need fewer now because LAER has short integrated cables.)
What’s the last item you lost?
Well, I’m pretty good about losing things in general. But the worst was this year I was at CES and my wallet was stolen. It pretty much ruined my experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a TrackR device in it for some reason. If I had, I could’ve tracked it down, called the police and gotten it back!
We are so excited to partner with ARROE! See more of LAER in ARROE’s Indiegogo campaign video here.