Kinetic Battery Startup Ampy Raises Seed To Shrink To Fit Wearables

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Kinetic charging battery startup Ampy — which makes a wearable spare battery pack charged by human movement — has closed an $875,000 seed round led by Clean Energy Trust and NewGen Ventures. Angel investors including Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871; Steve Olechowski, co-founder of FeedBurner; and John DiNardi, co-founder of Norlux also participated.

The Chicago-based startup says it will be using the new funding to work on shrinking its tech to fit wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, with the aim of expanding beyond its original consumer-focused proposition of a spare battery that can be charged while you walk/run/cycle.

“On integration [into wearable tech], we have prototyped it and proved the concept. We are now working on looking at our customers’ (wearables companies) needs in terms of not only size and power, but durability, comfort, etc,” CEO and co-founder Tejas Shastry tells TechCrunch.

The challenge is clearly whether it can shrink its magnetic charging tech to fit what can be very small wearable devices. Shastry touts the advantage of “flexibility in form factor” for manufacturers to work with it in reaching that embedded wearable tech goal. It is already apparently in talks with some makers.

The new seed financing will also be used for scaling production of its current consumer product — and expanding its six-strong team with new hires.

Ampy ran a crowdfunding campaign to turn its original human-powered prototype into a shipping product a year ago — going on to raise just under $310,000 on Kickstarter.

It says now that all devices will be shipped to backers by the end of November, adding that some have already been shipped. The campaign originally slated a June 2015 delivery schedule — but delay is no surprise for a hardware crowdfunder.

An Ampy spokesman says delays were down to it making some changes to the product itself — based on backer feedback (such as adding a LED to indicate how charged it is) — and also because it found that more work was required to get a supply chain in place and perform quality assurances on the first production parts.

The battery capacity of Ampy was also stepped up, from the 1,000mAh detailed in the crowdfunder — to 1,800mAh.