Meet Monish Sabnani, The Tech Entrepreneur Who Creates Fashionable Wireless Chargers
Sometimes, a great business idea is as simple as doing one thing better than the rest. When Monish Sabnani and Evan Moskal couldn’t find any wireless chargers that fit in with their lifestyles, they decided to create their own. Courant was founded in 2018 when the pair set out to reinvent the historically “clunky product category” of wireless chargers after being disappointed by those on the market. “Everything available on Amazon had little allure. They were poorly made products with no brand story or concept of design,” Sabnani says. “We wanted to rebrand the product, which lacked perspective, brand identity and, quite frankly, effort,” says the entrepreneur, who was born in the US and raised in Hong Kong.
At a time when technology industry leaders Apple and Samsung had already begun integrating wireless technology into their phones, Sabnani and Moskal, both 27, saw an opportunity for well-designed, reliable charging stations that complemented consumers’ personalities. Their instincts proved right: after launching at the New York Now trade show in 2018, the duo took orders worth US$1 million within the first six weeks of operation, entrancing industry insiders and celebrity influencers alike. Courant chargers made it on to the wish lists of Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chrissy Teigen and Kim Kardashian and, last December, the duo were named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in the consumer technology category.
Sabnani, who began his career in investment banking, focusing on tech equities, says his business nous is guided by his love for design and aesthetics, and he draws inspiration from music, streetwear and cool New York neighbourhoods like SoHo and Williamsburg. “We obsess over good design and how it ties to the psychology of consumer behaviour. We know how millennials interact with brands and we spend hours talking about it,” he says. He and Moskal, a Tennessean who used to work for kitchenware brand W&P Design, met when Courant’s investors Very Great introduced them as “entrepreneur aspiring individuals” who were likely to work well together.
Courant’s line of charging stations, or “catches”, comprises single-device and multi-device chargers, and a wireless charging tray that has become a bestseller. From their Italian leather casing to clean lines and muted colours, the products are designed to be pieces of portable art that perform as well as they please the eye.
As well as selling in major retailers including West Elm, Anthropologie, SSense and Bloomingdales in the US, the brand, which is headquartered in New York and has bases in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, has also made strides into hospitality, and can be found in the rooms of luxury hotel chains, including the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, as well as private members’ clubs like Soho House.
However, not even the savviest of tech entrepreneurs could have seen the pandemic coming. With orders drying up at brick-and-mortar stores last year, the pair weathered the storm by turning to e-commerce and, as a result, Courant saw triple digit growth. “We started hearing doomsday scenarios around the future of retail, but what do billions of people trapped inside their homes, with no bars, restaurants or travel to spend money on, do? They order stuff online to generate a familiar level of dopamine they are used to,” says Sabnani.
When Courant launched in 2018, the global wireless charging market stood at US$3.82 billion and it’s expected to increase almost tenfold to US$33.48 billion, by 2024, according to Statista. Though Sabnani and Moskal don’t claim to be industry leaders—not yet, anyway—their gadgets are satisfying a demand among increasingly design-conscious consumers for statement-making necessities, and the Courant product line will continue to expand with new colourways and accessories. Or, in short, “We’re taking exactly what you need: a reliable wireless charger for your phone, packaged in a way that you’re extremely excited about,” says Sabnani.