Monday, February 26, 2024

Tyler Johnson’s Journey: From Enterprising Student to Rising Tech Bag Co-Founder of POKIT

Tyler Johnson
Photo Credited to Tyler Johnson

With people relying on their smartphones more than ever, ensuring that their device remains charged and ready while on the go has never been so important. Running out of battery is a huge inconvenience and so people may rely on a battery pack. However, charging cables can be really unwieldy and could get snagged or damaged in crowded places.

Los Angeles-based engineer Tyler Johnson sought to solve this problem by co-founding POKIT with longtime friend and industrial designer Tanner Wills. The startup’s flagship product is POKIT™, the crossbody sling bag, which has a patent pending exterior phone pocket with an integrated wireless charger for Qi-compatible smartphones. It is powered by an internal removable 5000 mAh power pack, providing up to 2 full charges for a typical device.

Johnson says that the inspiration for POKIT™ came when they noticed someone struggling to find their portable charger and cable in the depths of their bag, causing the person to miss out on the moment at hand. This inspired them to create a product that can keep smartphones charged and running while on the go, without the inconvenience of dealing with cables.

According to Johnson, he has been a very active and entrepreneurial person since his youth. He shares that his first business endeavor was in high school fixing his classmates smartphone screens after he learned how to fix his own. 

While at Arizona State University (ASU), Johnson and his friend had an idea for a tank-top design that showed ASU mirrored as USA. After finalizing the design and self-funding the production of the tank-tops, Johnson would go around campus wearing them and selling them out of his backpack to anyone who was interested. 

“Whenever I see a gap in the market and a business opportunity, I always think about how to solve it in my own way. I often try to find different ways of how to do things and fix various problems encountered by myself and people close to me,” Johnson says.

Having majored in industrial engineering, Johnson has a keen mind for project management, value creation, and process change. He also frequently applies the Five Whys concept, where answering the question “why?” five times in the row helps him uncover the root cause of a problem. He says that the engineering mindset has helped him in his entrepreneurial journey, in designing the POKIT bag, and with his other businesses, which include his creative consulting agency, Still Loading. 

Johnson shares that he first produced the POKIT’s prototype in 2019, when he took a battery pack and a desktop Qi charger, disassembled them, then combined them. He says he got zapped several times in the process, but it served as a learning experience that helped him refine the product. 

Tyler Johnson
Sourced Photo

POKIT Logo

At present, POKIT is in a growth stage, with consistently improving sales, and it’s largely due to Johnson’s efforts to get himself and his product in front of the right people. He says that at events people would first notice how great the bag looks, and when Johnson tells them that it can also charge their phone wirelessly, their eyes light up and often say “why didn’t I think of that?”. Having mastered a 90-second pitch, Johnson has sold the product to people at places like airport lounges, bars, and coffee shops. Even if people don’t buy it on the spot, he often gets residual online sales from people who were impressed and later think to get it for themself or as a gift for a friend.

Johnson is now working on the product’s next edition, incorporating his insights from the various feedback he gathered along the way. While the POKIT bag’s cobalt black color goes with everything, there is demand for other colors to suit people’s outfits and preferences. Johnson is also in talks with various local artists to collaborate on limited edition releases, creating unique pieces that highlight their style of art.

Over the next few years, POKIT is planning to expand into the European and Asian markets, especially since the crossbody sling bag design is quite popular in those countries, especially among people who go to concerts and festivals and need a secure bag that can carry the essentials, such as their smartphone, some cash, and their identification cards. POKIT is also targeting more mutually beneficial partnerships with both local and mainstream brands.

“I believe that unabashedly being myself has greatly helped me in my entrepreneurial journey, and forcing myself to conform with others and holding myself back have only served to stifle my creativity,” Johnson says. “similar to when I was selling the tank tops in college, it is an awesome feeling to see people in Downtown Los Angeles wearing their POKIT. I call them the POKITCREW. Being all-in on the brand has enabled me to make such strides, because I believe that the world recognizes when you’re fully committed to something versus when you’re just half-heartedly into it. No one really wants to work with someone who doesn’t fully commit.”

 

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