You know it’s happened to you: A low cell phone battery might make you uneasy.

Entrepreneurs Ryan Levy and Brandon Afari have a solution. A startup called ChargeFuze.

They’re building a network of vending machines that rent portable chargers.

They are currently in 40 states and soon, internationally, too.

ChargeFuze portable charging battery
ChargeFuze portable charging battery

“We’re in all kinds of venues whether it’s a restaurant, bar stadium, shopping center, casino, you name it, we’re pretty much there,” explained Afari, who went to business school at USC.

We checked out ChargeFuze at the Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles.

Think food court, but uniquely LA.

Rental rates start at about a dollar for 30 minutes. You can pick up a charger in one location and drop it off in another – across town or even in another state.

The duo came up with the idea in 2018, inspired by scan and ride scooters that were popping up all over towns at the time.

“At the time it was difficult because people didn’t understand the concept that you could actually take this product with you,” explained Afari.

ChargeFuze founders Ryan Levy and Brandon Afari
ChargeFuze founders Ryan Levy and Brandon Afari

The rental process is easy. You scan a QR code on the vending machine screen or use the app to find a location and rent from your phone.

Then, use one of the built-in charging cables that works with your phone. Each portable battery has Lightning, USB-C and Micro-USB connectors.

ChargeFuze says their rental system is encrypted end to end. In some ways, it can be more convenient than carrying your own battery pack.

With recent warnings about plugging into public USB charging ports, you might be concerned about security. I talked to a security expert on my radio show and it turns out, those fears are mostly unfounded. You can listen to the entire interview below.

“We have partnered with some of the biggest companies around the country and around the world. The biggest joy is when someone rents our service and carries a portable charger with them,” concluded Afari.