So you want to start an electronics business in supercompetitive New York City. First order of business? Check your sanity. Second task? Find a niche. And it doesn’t hurt if you can find some truly interesting products.
Such is the recipe for success at Brooklyn-based EcoGeekLiving (www.ecogeekliving.com), an online electronics shop that specializes in eco-friendly gizmos and gadgets that take nibbles instead of chomps out of electric bills. Not only are the company’s products Green, says Chrystal Dailey, founder of the four-year-old company, but so is its mindset. For example, EcoGeekLiving is a supporter of MillionTreesNYC, a ten-year New York City project to plant a million trees, thus expanding the city’s “urban forest.”
Bailey says the company doesn’t just compile a list of products for its online catalog; it vets every product by actually using them to make sure they live up to their billing. “We try out ninety-nine percent of our inventory before we present it to the public,” she said in an e-mail. “We are very in tune to how it works, pros and cons.”
According to the company’s mission statement, “Our goal as the founding eco geeks is to help our customers make an easy transition from traditional products to earth-friendly alternatives. Making the switch to sustainable products doesn’t have to mean giving up comfort, variety or affordability, which is why our products are selected on the basis of utility, sustainability, and reasonable prices.”
At the recent Green Products Expo, sponsored by Propel Media at the Grand Hyatt New York hotel, EcoGeekLiving competed for the attention of the press with major corporations such as Panasonic, 3M and Petco. The company used the expo to show off some of its travel- and business-friendly gadgets. For example, gadget power is often an issue at business conferences when desks aren’t near power outlets, or at outdoor venues where AC power may not be readily available at all. In such cases, the $90 PowerFilm AA Battery Foldable Solar Charger could be a useful option. The unit looks like a large wallet when folded, but when open reveals its four credit-card size solar panels. Leave the open unit in sunlight and it can charge two rechargeable AA batteries in four hours or four batteries in seven hours. Metal grommets allow you to hang the solar charger or stake it securely in the ground.
For more-power-hungry devices, EcoGeekLiving offers the $250 Solar-Gorilla Solar Laptop Charger, which comes in a water-resistant clamshell case and, as its name implies, has enough muscle to charge a laptop PC. It comes with a standard 5-volt USB socket for small devices like cellphones, as well as a 20-volt output socket. Connectors for the most popular brands of laptops, cellphones, tablets and other mobile electronic devices are included with the 1.5-pound unit. Combine the solar unit with the $290 PowerGorilla Portable Laptop Charger, which is essentially a large rechargeable power brick, and you end up with hours of backup and charging power for your business tools.
At the expo, Dailey also showed off a novel flashlight that recharges not with light or AC power, but with elbow grease. The $10 LED Shake Flashlight uses high-efficiency capacitors instead of batteries that get charged as you shake the flashlight back and forth. The flashlight has three power-efficient LEDs instead of a conventional lightbulb and can generate a brightness up to 315 lumens. The transparent case can absorb a moderate amount of rough handling and can be submerged in water as deep as eight feet. Dailey noted that the flashlight proved so interesting, it turned up in O, The Oprah Magazine.
The mention in such a popular magazine might have been just enough to make EcoGeekLiving’s larger competitors turn green with envy.