We talked to Jacob Babcock of NuCurrent about Wireless Charging Technology and Covid-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jacob Babcock: A little stir crazy, but we’re all healthy, doing well, and very appreciative of our good fortune during these very challenging times for everyone.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined NuCurrent.
Jacob Babcock: NuCurrent was founded in 2009 as an entrepreneurial project at Northwestern University while I was in law school. We initially addressed the unreliable power wires in implanted neurostimulators. Five years after graduation, I left my legal counsel role to join NuCurrent as the 5th full-time employee and set up shop in Chicago’s West Loop.
How does NuCurrent innovate?
Jacob Babcock: We are very fortunate that big and bold companies come to NuCurrent with challenges that they’d like to solve with wireless power. Solving real industry problems alongside these companies is one of our huge innovation advantages. Additionally, our CTO office keeps a close eye on the landscape of the wireless power industry to continuously stoke innovation: How are the wireless power standards advancing? What consistent challenges do we see clients looking to overcome? What consumer adoption trends can we identify? Through their ongoing research, the CTO office lays out a technology roadmap that drives our R&D, what inventions we create, the projects we take on, and so on.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Jacob Babcock: NuCurrent is having a record-setting year despite the significant challenges posed by the pandemic. We already exceeded our previous record annual revenues and have grown our IP portfolio by 50%. While there’s a lot we owe that to, Covid preparedness, quick decision-making, and flexibility were critical. Just weeks after CES 2020 in January, we were shipping PPE to our Hong Kong office. That triggered our leadership to create a decentralization plan for our headquarters, which we could act upon when Covid hit US shores. Since then, we’ve increased the frequency of our planning cycles and company-wide communications to keep everyone on the same page as we drive the business forward.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jacob Babcock: Many difficult decisions were made or concerned over the course of the year, especially in the winter and spring when everything was highly uncertain. In making these decisions, our leadership operated a process where we: 1) established priorities, 2) sought understanding of our situation, 3) developed options, 4) predicted the impact of options, 5) chose the best course of action given the info we had at the time, 6) executed, 7) constantly re-evaluated in light of new information and new issues. We continue this framework today and know that not everything we try will work, but we’ll keep working until it does.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and NuCurrent in the future?
Jacob Babcock: Authentic leadership is more important now than ever. For me, that could be underlining the importance of a certain client project or encouraging fellow parents to shift their online hours as needed. Projecting over-confidence or failing to acknowledge Covid-life would be a disservice to my team.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jacob Babcock: Years ago, I would have named other wireless power companies…but now, I think there are only a few organizations that can compete with the wireless power Center of Excellence we’ve built, and those are the dedicated wireless power teams at Apple, Samsung, and maybe a select other few. Whereas those captive organizations serve their parent organization, NuCurrent provides our decade-plus of experience, IP, know-how, regulatory expertise, mass production track record, and more to big and bold companies across multiple industries. It’s safe to say that no other company in the world has launched mass production wireless power technologies in as many market segments as NuCurrent. And, the exciting thing to me is we are just getting started!
Your final thoughts?
Jacob Babcock: Challenges like the Covid pandemic provide opportunities to try things and experiment in ways that wouldn’t be accepted in normal times. We are excited about how our recent experiments will be shaping the industry and how consumers interact with electronics for years to come.