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These Memphis women are charging up the tech industry

Nahja Clayton and Kristy Craig's product keeps you charged up on the go.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Technology is still growing and is a huge part of our every day lives. 

However, a study from Anitab.org shows just 28% of the tech workforce is made up of women. Meanwhile, Black women make up just 2.2% of that group. 

Two Memphians have joined the tech world and are looking to keep phones charged up.

Cell phones are used all day, everyday, and when a battery dies, it’s a big inconvenience.

Meet Nahja Clayton and Kristy Craig, the founders of Smart Charge – a company trying to keep you juiced up.

"We are a powerbank rental company, the newest addition to the sharing economy, similar to scooter, ride scooters, Airbnb, Lyft. We now are allowing consumers to rent portable chargers on the go," Craig said.

Smart Charge works similarly to renting a Bird scooter downtown. It’s about convenience. Download the app, find a location near you, and get your phone charged up.

The first hour is free with a small charge for every hour afterwards. Keep it too long and you basically buy it. 

There are ports for type-C, IOS, and micro-USB users - which covers most phones for iPhone and Android users, and can also charge some laptops, tablets, and headphones.

The pair said the idea came to them while they were both teaching English in China. The powerbank sharing economy is already booming there.

"It was very convenient for me out and about. When my when my phone would go low, my battery would go low, I would simply rent a charger and it was very affordable," Craig said.

"I think they got a lot of my business when it came to me being out and about and needing a charger. I literally rented a charger while I was there almost every other day," Clayton said.

They brought the idea back to Memphis - Clayton's hometown - and launched in January.

Kenya Rose runs Noir Rose Salon downtown. She's one of over a dozen businesses that welcomed Smart Charge with open arms.

"It's been heaven sent because I do not like to lend my charger," Rose said.

Rose said there's a bit of a learning curve teaching older folks how to use a QR code, but other than that, there haven't been any hitches with Smart Charge.

"You get the first hour free, so you're not gonna be here that long anyway. By the time you leave, you have a full charge," Rose said.

Craig points out it can be especially useful for business owners of restaurants and bars, where a spill is bound to happen.

"A lot of these businesses have had, I guess, liability moments where they're placing customers chargers or phones behind the counters, especially with restaurants and bars, because in any moment a drink can spill on their phone. And that's a wrap, right? That's a lawsuit in the making," Craig said.

Craig and Clayton welcome the opportunity to work in the male-dominant world of tech, although it wasn't where either saw their career going. Craig worked in pharmaceutical sales, Clayton in finance. Entrepreneurship and technology are new for them, but they want to encourage other women to follow. 

"I didn't see a lot of people that looked like me that were in the tech field. And for me to be in this position is just, it's inspiring for me to be inspiring to others," Clayton said.

Smart Charge is available in about 20 business around Memphis including the Crosstown Concourse. So when you see that red battery, there's no more need to feel like you have to run home or run to the store and buy a charger.

Posted by Smart Charge on Monday, April 4, 2022

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