Anshu Bhatnagar, CEO
In this case, the source was something outside – a bank of EV charging stations and ultrafast 5G equipment, which turned the restaurant into a new hotspot for customers who could now charge their vehicles, shop, dine, and work at the same location. Whether it’s a rideshare driver recharging during a lunch break or a minor league coach topping off his battery while getting snacks for the team, people charging their EVs want to make productive use of their time. To fill that charging down time, there is an obvious opportunity for a restaurant or retailer to make these mobile consumers aware of discounts and promotions to capture their attention and their business. Targeting customers at the right time and place is a time-honored strategy to add incremental sales, new customers, brand loyalty, and increased profitability.
Now, what if those incentives are topped off with ultra-fast 5G connectivity? Given the opportunity, customers prefer to work hassle-free using high-speed internet while they sip a cup of coffee during those otherwise lost minutes that define today’s EV charging experience. The gas station and the diner end up with a happy customer, and the EV owner, who was looking for a convenient charging spot, finds one with extra amenities. It’s a win-win for all.
Sure, this sounds like techno-utopian convenience, but it’s happening right now. mPhase Technologies, a Maryland USA-based company, is making this dream scenario possible with its AI-powered inter-connected ecosystem. By driving consumer engagement using data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), mPhase creates a monetizable link between consumers and retailers at opportunistic times and places. The company is currently building a connected ecosystem of EV charging, millimeter-wave 5G internet connectivity, and software solutions that optimize consumer engagement within a SaaS/TaaS model. This unique, powerful ecosystem aims to provide consumers with targeted products or services while also giving retailers opportunities to drive foot traffic into their stores. Branded as mPower, this ecosystem has a lofty goal – to empower people to shop, dine, fuel, and interact with the world to create a richer life experience.
This novel and progressive idea didn’t manifest overnight. It was the end result of forward thinking and careful planning that began on the opposite end of the EV charging experience – by addressing the retailer and the consumer first. With the much-anticipated launch now underway, that makes this the perfect time to look more closely at the conception of the first-ever inter-connected ecosystem of EV charging, 5G connectivity, and consumer engagement.
A Journey through the Years
Established in 1979, mPhase was a spin-off of Bell Laboratories, where it began its journey as a core R&D company focused on nanotechnology and battery technology. When Anshu Bhatnagar took the reins as the company’s CEO in 2019, he and his team were able to view patches of a promising future, although through a lens fogged by the overhang of decades of R&D spending with little commercial success.
In due course, the team adopted a different vision that centered on a rapid transition into a revenue-generating company. The first step toward executing this new mission started with the acquisition of Travel Buddhi, an India-based one-of-a-kind travel platform that creates trips dynamically for users, with the capability to make recommendations and manage trips to the last detail. mPhase also acquired Alpha Predictions LLP—an India-based technology company that has developed a suite of commercial data analysis products for use across multiple industries.
“By embedding the EV charging model into our inter-connected ecosystem, we essentially solved some of the most glaring problems with the EV experience, while also future proofing retailers for that tipping point when EV will eventually dominate travel. There is a massive need and clear shift toward a greener economy—EV charging is going to replace the gas model of the last century, it is going to be a part of our life,” says Bhatnagar. “We had the travel component, the mapping, and all the points of interest locations built into our platform before we designed the full mPower ecosystem. Adding the EV charging and consumer engagement components took our platform a step further. That makes us unique in the market place. No one else has the combination of features we have built into the mPower platform.”
We’re at a pivotal point in our company’s history where we are undergoing massive change. We are in discussions and pilots with a list of household names in the restaurant, transportation, energy, and retail industries. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal most of these partners yet, but suffice it to say they include some of the largest restaurant chains in the world
An Ecosystem Rooted in Consumer Engagement
mPhase designed its ecosystem to serve a diverse group of consumers. On one end of the spectrum, there are restaurants, hotels, quick-service restaurants (QSRs), and gas stations; and on the other side, a massive pool of end-users/customers.
“We have built a strong relationship with gas station and convenience store owners in the U.S., most of which are Indian-owned franchisees. In our conversations with gas station owners, we repeatedly heard that their business model is facing a declining future as the world shifts to EV. The interesting factor as to why they are approaching us versus a ChargePoint or Blink Charging solution is because, today, a gas station is no longer just about filling gas, it’s a real estate play,” explains Bhatnagar. “Gas stations have a clear up-selling opportunity to capitalize on—there can be a convenience store on the premises, video rental kiosks, carwash service, a coffee shop, or a Subway restaurant. There are multiple options to tap into alternative revenue streams. We are hosting charging sites with 5G functionality, with our whole package best described as a kind of EV Plus that gives customers extra incentives to choose an mPower location.”
To help customers make the best use of its inter-connected ecosystem, mPhase provides retailers with a web-enabled, desktop software solution—the patented 21:32 Consumer Engagement platform. Customers, QSRs, or gas station owners, can log into the system, connect with consumers anonymously, locate them using heat maps, learn their behaviors and purchasing pattern, engage intelligently through a comprehensive data analytics dashboard, and provide the right offers at the right times using AI. With location learning, AI, and a comprehensive data dashboard, mPhase’s technology can help customers influence consumer purchasing decisions and draw them away from competitors. For instance, a donut shop using mPhase’s platform can identify consumers that pass by every morning and make a stop at a competitor’s coffee shop just ahead on the road. Using the dashboard, the retailer can send notifications to these consumers, offering special promotions and relevant offers that satisfy that consumer’s known habits and preferences. This highly focused targeting can drive down customer acquisition costs significantly.
“It was an extremely unpleasant experience for me. So, if you think from an individual’s perspective, where would you rather choose to go—a Dunkin’ Donuts store that offers superfast internet connectivity, attractive deals and discounts, along with EV charging or to a lesser location nearby with terrible internet speed and no great deals?” asks Bhatnagar.
A Melting Pot of Talent
With an incredible team of experts, mPhase is going through a hyper-growth phase and has many endeavors planned for the future. The company’s exponential growth is backed by the in-depth knowledge of its team of subject matter experts and the deep experience of its professionals. The company is staffed with an impressive management team, all of whom have multiple decades of business experience. To facilitate this growth, mPhase has recently appointed Luis Buentello—a veteran HR executive with over two decades of global experience working with large multi-national companies—as Chief Human Resources Officer.
"By embedding the EV charging model into our inter-connected ecosystem, we essentially solved some of the most glaring problems with the EV experience, while also future proofing retailers for that tipping point when EV will eventually dominate travel. Some EV solutions have to wait for that tipping point to be effective, but our set of tools improves travel today for all consumers and will reach its maximum effectiveness as EV becomes the most common form of transportation"
The results of the core technology speak for themselves. In a pilot implementation with mPhase, Subway—the world’s largest submarine sandwich chain with more than 40,000 locations around the world—was able to realize a 300 percent ROI, while McDonald’s— one of the world’s leading global foodservice retailers—achieve 810 percent in ROI. A publicly traded company, mPhase (OTCPINK: XDSL), is more than just a concept, as it already has secured over $30 million in sales and is aiming for $56 million for the coming year.
“We managed to keep our business intact even during trying times when many similar companies incurred severe losses. In 2021, conditions finally improved to the point where we could resume the aggressive roll-out program that we first envisioned. We are firmly embedded in one of the hottest categories in technology today, so our timing could not be better,” assures Bhatnagar.
All Eyes on the Future
Bhatnagar offers a sneak peek at his company’s future growth strategies; “We’re at a pivotal point in our company’s history where we are undergoing massive change. We are in discussions and pilots with a list of household names in the restaurant, transportation, energy, and retail industries. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal most of these partners yet, but suffice it to say they include some of the largest restaurant chains in the world.”
The company has also signed a development deal with NCR—a global POS software provider for retail and hospitality. To execute its EV-centric strategy, the company is forming partnerships with automakers, charging companies, and utilities. mPhase is also onboarding new users to its platform to create a “reverse auction” system, wherein it can not only drive traffic to a location but also drive traffic on demand. In just the first month of the mPower roll-out, the company signed more than 1,800 sites, part of a goal to secure as many as 30,000 sites during the first phase of the program. The company is on pace to make the “mPower” name a common sight at malls, restaurants, convenience stores, and similar high-traffic sites with EV/5G compatibility.