A conversation with Josh Yank, CEO and Founder of Yank Technologies.
Congratulations to Josh and Yank Technologies on their win at CVC’s Demo Night earlier this month!
Let’s not waste any time, tell us what Yank Technologies does.
We’re a wireless charging startup in the Columbia University Startup Lab. We developed true wireless charging like WiFi, but for power. No point-to-point contact required. Imagine walking into your bedroom, your office, or your living room and all of sudden, all of your mobile devices seamlessly start to recharge. We have fully-functional prototypes demonstrating our novel technology, and protected IP. We can charge multiple devices simultaneously, multiple types of devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and two-way radios- also different brands of devices, from iOS to Android.
That’s amazing! What was it that inspired you to set out on creating this technology?
It’s the everyday issues and experiences that have inspired us. Have you ever used mobile GPS as you head to a meeting with no extra time to spare and suddenly your phone died? Have you ever been in the middle of an important conversation and again, your phone died? We believe energy distribution for our devices today requires a lot more development and innovation. Technology today is like a sexy Ferrari that’s very low on gas. It’s beautiful and it’s amazing, but it’s true potential has not been fully realized.
Where did Columbia’s Startup Lab come in to the process?
My partner, Jin Li, drew me and the company. Jin got his Master’s in Electrical Engineering at Columbia. We actually met via LinkedIn over a year ago. I told him I was working on developing a new wireless charging technology and he was so excited that he drove almost four hours upstate to meet with me that weekend. Shortly after, I moved back to the NYC area so we could work together. At that time, it was simply out of my parents’ basement. Jin really encouraged us to reach out more to the Columbia University ecosystem, and we’re really glad we were accepted into the lab and fortunate to receive the support, help and guidance from the university.
Did you always see yourself in this kind of position- starting and running your own company?
I always wanted to be a major influencer in the world around me. My passion developed into a company, but it wasn’t something that was an initial goal.
What has the three year journey been like for you, as a founder?
It’s honestly been a very difficult journey, but one that has been very rewarding. I have personally experienced poverty and starvation at our lowest points, but by facing these obstacles, we have learned and grown as individuals and as a team.
Is there anything specific within the way you’re building your company, or within your business model that you feel is innovative, or new to the startup space? Something that might inspire others, or shake things up a bit.
I think the way we’ve developed our technology is incredibly innovative. Wireless charging has been around for a very long time, since Nikola Tesla did his famous experiments in the late 19th century. Whether or not it could be done wasn’t the question, it’s how it can be done practically. For instance, if we roll out a new wireless charging technology, we risk negotiating with the FCC to get it approved, which can take years. Instead, we vastly improved certain aspects of magnetic resonance, a very safe, well-researched tech in many of today’s charging pads. This gives us a much more streamlined FCC approval process. The way we have structured the focus of our research and development has been as innovative as the actual developments themselves. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we decided to vastly improve upon it.
Is there any piece of advice you would give, or you have received, that you think is particularly important to founders of all types?
Be open minded and actively reach out to people with experience. I think what many founders initially struggle with, especially out of college, is that they think they know more than they actually do. I’ve been guilty of this. Even if you are well-educated in a particular field, you will undoubtedly experience new challenges even in your specialization, that you didn’t anticipate. If you don’t yet have strong real-life experience in an area, it is very important that you reach out to people that do.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about? (i.e. product launches, recent achievements, links to other interviews..)
We’re in conversations with many of the largest OEMs in the world who are looking to integrate our wireless charging technology into a wide range of systems from smartphones to TVs. We raised a Friends and Family round last month, and are preparing for a Crowdfunding campaign launch in the next few months. Our team is open to feedback. If you are an investor in the space and/or would consider joining us as a strategic partner or even a potential customer, please visit us at www.yanktechnologies.com and feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with the community. Best of luck to you Josh!