June 4, 2018

From Hartford, HALO’s solution for power-thirsty gadgets finds worldwide customer base

Photo | QVC
Photo | QVC
HALO co-founders Garold Miller (left) and Dan Weinstein have found global success with their portable electronic charger marketed via the QVC televised shopping network.
Photo | Contributed
Dan Weinstein (left) and Garold Miller were neighbors who started HALO.
Photo | QVC
Halo 8000 wireless portable power charger with 2 USB ports. About $77.
Photo | QVC
HALO power wristlet. About $30.

Necessity, it's said, is often the mother of invention.

For West Hartford technology entrepreneur Garold Miller and his family, it was their frequently spent cellphones that drew him and a business partner to craft a solution that has taken digital-device users worldwide by storm.

"My phone was always out of power,'' said Miller, co-founder of HALO, a Hartford-based developer of a portable charger for electronic devices. "My wife's phone was always out of power.''

That was a decade ago. Miller at the time was running a jewelry design firm. He told his then Glastonbury neighbor, Dan Weinstein, an electrical engineer who previously worked for Massachusetts digital storage-device maker EMC, about his idea for the portable charger and other problem-solving ideas they ultimately agreed to tackle together.

"We were the first to file patents for portable power,'' said Miller.

Today, their bread-and-butter HALO portable electronic charger is selling like gangbusters via the QVC televised shopping network, where Miller says he now works as a product developer. The pair decline to talk sales or profitability for their HALO enterprise. A 2013 CNNMoney story said the company logged $90 million in sales that year.

HALO, also known as Halo2Cloud, has only grown since then, Miller said.

According to QVC, some 5.1 million units of various models of HALO chargers have been sold via its network since 2011. Altogether, Miller and Weinstein say they have sold some 22 million HALO products worldwide. They also sell via their website and Amazon.

"HALO is a perfect example of a brand that seeks to resolve a problem most of us face on a daily basis — keeping our electronics charged while we're on the go,'' QVC's buying director John Sadlier said via email. "The brand has enjoyed a great deal of success since launching in 2011, and our customers have come to rely on their HALO devices."

Growing footprint

As HALO has grown it has also shifted and expanded its geographic footprint in the state.

In 2017, HALO spent $762,500 to acquire downtown Hartford's Six Central Row, a historic office building erected in 1850 that now houses the company's headquarters. HALO previously called Glastonbury home.

Miller, a fan of old office edifices, said he fell in love with the location and the opportunity to be in the Capital City, which he is bullish on.

"We think the city of Hartford has become a very vibrant place to work and we enjoy the atmosphere," of working near restaurants, cultural and historical sites and other amenities, he said.

HALO occupies 6,000 to 7,000 square feet of the approximately 15,300-square-foot building, where its administrative and R&D operations are based.

The fourth floor contains HALO's "secret lab" for product development, Miller said.

The building's first floor was also redone and is being rented to local entrepreneurs as a co-working space.

Meantime, in Windsor, HALO is finalizing a lease to occupy 24,800 square feet of warehouse-distribution space at 90 Meadow Rd., to house its growing e-commerce business. The company will close a Newington warehouse location and move its employees to the Windsor space, where it plans to add 20 to 30 additional workers, Miller said.

HALO currently employs about 35 people.

Miller said HALO looked for warehouse space in Hartford, but the city's high tax rate made it unattractive. The Windsor space is close enough, he said, to the company's headquarters.

HALO's electronics are manufactured in China, where it also has an office.

Fashion meets function

Miller and Weinstein say their first HALO prototype was the size of a brick and weighed about a pound. They took it to QVC, which liked the prototype well enough but insisted it should be lighter and more compact.

Miller said he lobbied for the product to be sold in funky colors, but QVC initially balked at the idea, favoring colors more closely associated with electronics.

But when QVC launched HALO in white, it failed miserably, Miller said. Later, it introduced models in pink leopard, print and other bold hues, and sales took off, selling thousands of the $30 devices in seconds, he said.

"It blew out in 4 ˝ seconds,'' Miller said.

Both men say the future of HALO is already moving beyond mass-market products, to producing specialized power-charging devices and solutions.

The company is teaming with the U.S. Department of Defense on portable power sources for soldiers' laptops, field radios and military-issued electronics, they said.

Its HaloMD division, the pair say, is collaborating with Hartford Hospital and other caregivers to provide portable power for oxygen, blood-pressure and sleep-apnea monitors and other medical devices.

A Hartford Hospital spokesman confirmed talks with HaloMD about a "collaborative relationship … focused on bringing new innovation to healthcare." He did not elaborate.

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