Startups of the week 13.1

Feeling powerless about being powerless? What if there was a portable charger that rewards you for use, helps you engage with your friends and is environmentally friendly? Step-up Changers.

1. Changers

There are a plethora of portable chargers out on the market, but one start-up's device tops the list as it not only gives you that extra boost of battery power, it is a social energy marketplace.

Changers believes that social energy is the next big thing – and with their A4 sized solar panel, called "Maroshi", you are able to charge your "Kalhuh-fummi", or portable battery. It will take around 4 hours in direct sunlight to charge you Kalhuh-fummi, which is then in turn able to charge around 2 iPhones. For more cloudy climates, the Maroshi will still charge but at a slower rate.

This explains how it is helping the environment but it is in the social marketplace where Changers gets really exciting. The "Maroshi" records how much energy you have generated and each gram of CO2 saved. You then upload this data to the Changer social platform and you are able to engage other users about your contribution to the planet.

To top it off, every Watt-hour of energy you create, you receive a credit or discount voucher to be used with partnering businesses. The device will set you back $149 (£93) and takes four hours of sunlight to charge up.

Changers, founded in Berlin in early 2011, was launched for beta-testing across the Atlantic in California to take advantage of the tech-savvy valley and it's all year sunshine. The company have now made it available worldwide, with people saving energy in such places as New York, Germany and Australia. It seems to be popular as Europe have sold out of the Starter Kit at the time of writing.

As quoted on the GoGreen website, co-founder and CEO of Changers, Markus Schulz said:

"Each of us takes it for granted that we have limitless energy on tap, and as a result we have become completely disconnected from how our actual energy usage impacts the planet. The Changers System aims to shift our attitudes and behavior by enabling each of us to produce our own energy, measure and visualize the real effect of this simple act, and then share our contributions with others. We think that if you can unite people in the pursuit of renewable energy, even small amounts of energy, it will lead to a dramatic transformation in how we source and consume energy."

Changers are looking to improve the environment, both natural and social, through a beautifully designed bit of kit. If it catches on, and we really hope it does, it could change the whole way we all look at energy saving. Rather than a necessity that is hard work and meticulous, it can be fun, engaging and beautifully designed. It also might be essential when 4G is introduced.