How NRG Energy’s portable power kiosks made it from concept to the Super Bowl

Stacey Butler

An electric utility doesn’t always have the most positive interactions with its customers. One interaction happens monthly, like clockwork: the bill. Another happens less predictably: the power flickers out, and there’s a frustrated call to customer service.

So a new service offering from NRG, called NRG Go, is a big deal for the $15 billion energy company, which has dual headquarters in Houston, Texas and West Windsor, New Jersey. NRG Go’s automated kiosks rent out fully-charged battery packs at places like nightclubs, concert venues, and shopping malls so that people can recharge their phones and tablets — without hunting for an outlet and plopping down next to it for an hour or so.

And it progressed from an initial concept to launch in less than 18 months, says Stacey Butler, Senior Manager of NRG Go. This week, fans attending Super Bowl LI and the pre-game activities in Houston will be able to use the NRG Go kiosks around the city — and a dozen of them inside NRG Field — for free. (Ordinarily, a 24-hour rental typically costs between $3 and $4; users who decide to keep the powerpack are charged $40, minus the original rental fee.)

Butler shared with Innovation Leader six things that she regards as key to getting an idea into the market so quickly — and setting it up for success.

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