Channel veteran Frank Raimondi is now part of the Chargifi team, and talked with ChannelBuzz about the MSP market and its role in Chargifi’s expansion plans, as well as confirming the timeframe for Canadian distribution through Ingram Micro.
LAS VEGAS – It has been a busy year for Chargifi, a British-based startup which aims to do the same thing for the wireless charging market that Aruba and Meraki once did for wireless connectivity. The company scaled up their presence by adding Hewlett Packard Enterprise [HPE] and Belkin as key strategic partners, signed on Ingram Micro for distribution in the U.S., and are about to be available through Ingram in Canada. They expanded their reseller business to the point where it became the vast majority of their sales. They are now making a deeper push specifically into the MSP market. Their strength has been in hospitality, but they are also finding more opportunities in the collaboration space. Frank Raimondi, well-known for his years in senior channel management roles with Intel, joined Chargifi last year, and talked with ChannelBuzz at the CompTIA ChannelCon event here, where the company had a booth for the first time.
“We were at ChannelCon last year, but we didn’t have a booth,” said Raimondi, who has been working with Chargifi for over a year, and officially came on board as strategic channel and business development director last December. “We had units in one of the big breakout rooms where the Emerging Tech Community was held. This year, I’m on the Executive Council for the Emerging Tech Community, and we have a full booth on the floor, side by side with Belkin.”
Chargifi teamed up with Belkin as a hardware partner in January, making Chargifi’s software available integrated with Belkin’s BOOST↑UP Wireless Charging Spot. It was the second major strategic partnership Chargifi announced in the past year, following one with HPE which saw HPE become an investor, and Chargifi become part of HPE’s Go-to-Market in their connectivity portfolio through the HPE Complete Program.
“Belkin has had an integrated demo at the show where you put a phone down on a charger and it shows real time drop off, monitoring and pickup,” Raimondi said.
A major focus for Chargifi at ChannelCon this year was looking to connect with MSPs who work in the two key verticals on which the company is focused.
“We are reaching out to hospitality and workplace oriented partners here,” Raimondi said. “Hospitality has been a key target area, with most of our partners being in that space to some degree, and we are getting some interesting deals there. The other interesting line is the collaboration space, particularly around WeWork.” WeWork is a unicorn startup in the office leasing space, with an IT component that differentiates them from other commercial leasing players.
“We have a Smart Office integration with Zoom and Teem, a WeWork product,” Raimondi indicated. “If a room is integrated with Smart Office, it automatically connects you to Zoom. It eliminates that 6-7 minutes studies have shown is the time that it takes to get everyone connected at the start of a meeting.”
Most of Chargifi’s business, and most of their partners, have been focused on the hospitality industry, and it provides most of their lighthouse customers, including the New York New York resort in Vegas. At ChannelCon, however, they reached out to collaboration-focused MSPs.
“We haven’t really recruited yet for collaboration, but we were doing more of that at this show,” Raimondi said. “Because we have the specific solution for collaboration, we now want to scale that with more partners in the space.”
Chargifi is fairly selective in the partners it brings on, because they are so heavily vertically-focused.
“They have to have the right customer set,” Raimondi indicated. “We don’t want to sign people up just because they are MSPs. We want them to be targeted specifically on those two markets where we are focused. Because of that, we haven’t really done significant outbound recruiting efforts. But we are looking for partners who are in those spaces. We found a few more here at ChannelCon who were interested. It’s an easy add on to wireless sales. We definitely are interested in talking. We have a great portal with a lot of training to get them up and running.”
Raimondi emphasized that Chargifi is well suited for MSPs because the vendor’s big-value add is the management piece, allowing partners to build out charging networks by effectively managing them, seeing how they are being used, and fixing them remotely when required. Chargifi is, in essence, an Internet of Things enterprise management platform.
“The critical point for wireless charging is when you get past 10-15 units, and it can become hard to manage, which leads to a bad experience,” Raimondi said. “That’s where the managed services play comes in. Through the Chargifi Analyze dashboard, MSPs can get data-driven information and insights, and can provide the customer with usage reports. They also can decide how much direct access to give the customer to this.
“This is an IoT play,” Raimondi emphasized. “It’s an edge device that collects and manages data. This is a way for an MSP to become an IoT player. It is an easy step into IoT that links with familiar products.”
Chargifi is available through Ingram Micro in the U.S. today. Ingram Micro Canada will carry them soon, Raimondi pledged.
“The agreement with Ingram Canada is done. We are just working out launch plans, and the expectation is that this will be in the early fall.” Raimondi said that it should be October 1 at the latest, pending certifications.
Also new in the fall will be the next version of the product.
“It’s a mesh and a gateway that enables easier deployment,” Raimondi said.