In the bag
Alumnus Michael Bates creates a seriously smart briefcase.
By Leslie Petrovski
Publish Date: October 23, 2015
When it comes to developing innovative technology, Michael Bates is on the case. Photo Chris Zhang
Michael Bates (B.S. marketing ’06) was living in China, burning the candle and his cell phone battery at both ends. Consulting for various international companies, Bates found himself in planes, trains and taxis with no way to charge his phone.
“I’d fly from Shanghai to Hong Kong and back in the same day,” he said. “Those are the days you take a shower and you return home and your towel is still wet – very long days. You don’t have time to charge a phone.”
Bates had tried auxiliary battery packs but found them too bulky to carry comfortably in a briefcase. Plus, he disliked the tangle of cables and wires he had to wrestle from his computer bag. Knowing that many of his colleagues faced similar challenges – ducking into coffee houses to juice their devices – Bates wondered whether he could produce a bag that would provide road warriors with a better system for managing their itinerant professional lives.
So last summer, he made the leap and founded Legion Concepts, a company dedicated to creating innovative business lifestyle products. One year later, he and his team launched a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign for the company’s first gambit, the Ultimate Device Charging Briefcase.
“This came out of necessity,” he explained.
Bates is a natural risk taker. A former competitive cyclist, Bates completed three internships during his final year at MSU Denver, regularly seeking the advice of professors about how to create a future that didn’t involve a cubicle and a commute to the Denver Tech Center. An internship with a company called AsiaPacific Access landed him a job in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. Today, he lives in Shanghai City and is working to marshal his smart bag into the marketplace.
The briefcase itself reflects the needs of the modern mover and shaker. Equipped with a compact 10,000 mAh removable battery, the water-resistant ballistic nylon bag allows users to charge a phone five times or a tablet once. Other slick features include a special laptop compartment for easy security screenings at airports, a built-in USB cable-management system to corral messy wires, myriad pockets and “bag-to-wall” charging with a dedicated power cord that can be easily retrieved and plugged into a convenient outlet.
While there are a handful of device-charging bags in the marketplace, including a few backpacks and wheeled briefcases, Legion Concepts’ Ultimate Device Charging Briefcase, Bates says, should stand out because of its quality and value. “We spent a lot of time sourcing from great suppliers and factories. We are working to create a better-quality product at a more affordable price.”
Clearly this is only the beginning. The company has five additional products in research and development that involve GPS, geo-fencing, proximity sensors and wireless charging, and they have been invited to the prestigious Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland.
“This is the jumping-off point,” said Bates.