It is a common enough scenario faced by travellers everywhere: you stumble into your hotel room after a day out with the battery life of your electronic devices nearly flat, and you start searching for a power point to charge them all.
However, many a time, the only power points in the room are in strangely inaccessible locations, or the travel adapter used seems to be tilting precariously out of the wall socket from the weight of all the plugs attached to it.
This is where Chia Eng Kiat hopes that his latest invention, the USB Traveller Plug, will come in handy. It is a smartphone-sized device with two universal sockets and two USB ports for multiple device charging. It also comes with an extension cord to increase accessibility which can be wrapped around the device for storage.
"It took us more than a year to develop it, from the first prototype to the final finished product," said Mr Chia, describing how the USB Traveller Plug was developed from scratch by his company, Tredan Connections.
Despite not having any background in product design, Tredan's team was able to come up with an ideal design after making more than 30 drafts over the entire conceptualisation process.
The team placed a high priority on collecting user feedback and held frequent client consultations to look for further areas of improvement.
"We developed the product to meet the problem," said Mr Chia, explaining that every aspect of the device - from the wire cove to the curved edges - was painstakingly designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
He stressed that what sets his USB Traveller Plug apart from similar devices in the market are its portability and easy storage, which he hopes will endear it to travellers. "We want people to carry it like a phone, with the motto 'don't leave home without it'."
The USB Traveller Plug required a sizeable investment of more than S$100,000 to be brought to market, but Mr Chia is confident that his product will succeed.
By launching the plug at trade shows such as the Singapore Gifts Show in July, Tredan has received more than 20,000 orders for the first round of production. There are plans to sell the plug in retail stores and on e-commerce sites as well, for a proposed retail price of S$35.
Having already registered patents in both Singapore and China, Mr Chia also has big plans to scale production of the USB Traveller Plug upwards, expanding to markets such as the United States, Hong Kong and Japan, as well as to Europe. "By next year, we hope to be in these overseas markets as well."
This article by The Business Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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