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This Frederick company wants to revolutionize EV charging stations

Kobby Osei-Kusi, the founder of Pirl Technology, a start-up that creates better chargers for a range of household items and electric vehicles. (Submitted Photo)

If you’ve ever been frustrated that your phone is charging at a snail’s pace (most likely while the charger is overheating), you may be in luck. A Frederick company, Pirl Technology, is working to develop more effective chargers for not only cellphones but also for electronic vehicles and other devices throughout the household. 

The company’s first product, a multiport cellphone charger, delivers 25-30% more power to the device than other chargers and is cool enough that it doesn’t need a fan to stop from overheating. Additionally, it allows each phone or other device plugged into the charger to charge independently; most multiport chargers spread the power across the outlets, founder Kobby Osei-Kusi said. 

The product, which was launched through a Kickstarter in 2020 that ultimately raised $133,019, has been successful, selling to over 1,600 customers.  

Pirl is focused on developing modernized charging stations for electric vehicles as the market for these cars continues to grow. In addition to efficient charging, the company’s charging stations will offer a number of unique features aimed at enhancing the user’s experience. 

One of these features has little to do with the vehicle itself — rather, it aims to encourage customers to engage with the business outside of which they’re charging their vehicle. 

“(The charging station) is going to have a larger, interactive screen, and that is very useful for, especially, if you want to use our charger at your business facility. Let’s say you’re a coffee shop, and you want to allow customers to order on the outside (before) they come in, you can do that,” Osei-Kusi said “What we use the screen for is what I call website extension. Whatever’s on your website, you can push it into our screen and your customers can interact with that.” 

The chargers will be equipped with security cameras, which Osei-Kusi likened to Ring doorbell cameras, popular devices for homeowners that double as doorbells and surveillance cameras. Osei-Kusi said he predicts this element of the product will be useful to both of Pirl’s customer bases — consumers and brick-and-mortar businesses. 

“Our approach is to build a single device that can be used in multiple environments. It’s a single device, but it can be used for businesses, and it can be used for consumers,” he said. “For each type of market, we can turn on the software and the capabilities that they need and that they want. The hardware is the same.” 

The stations will also have sensors to detect when they’re broken or damaged. This will allow repair people to come fix them as soon as possible, rather than having to wait until someone notices the damage and alerts Pirl.  

The company won’t have its own in-house service team, at least initially, but Osei-Kusi said he is planning to partner with local electricians to service the machines. He also hopes to eventually fund scholarships for underrepresented and low-income individuals to get training to be electricians and subsequently join Pirl’s network of partners. 

To support the development of Pirl’s charging stations, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation — better known as TEDCO — has invested $25,000 into the company through its Rural Business Innovation Initiative. Osei-Kusi, who recently moved to Frederick after living in major technology hubs across the United States for years, said the funds will be used to continue developing the product and hopefully begin deploying pilots. 

The company’s ultimate goal is to “build charging devices that fully integrate with the home,” but Osei-Kusi said the company isn’t ready to reveal exactly which other devices for which it is considering producing chargers in the future. 

“(In) the future home, you would charge your phones, you would charge your computers, you would charge anything in your home with a Pirl product — and on top of that you would charge your car,” he said.