Esteban, demonstrating his invention. / josele

A Costa del Sol waiter has invented a system that charges mobile phones at restaurant tables

Esteban Romero has already sold 1,500 units of his product, which also provides a useful way of keeping other items such as sunglasses and wallets off the table

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

Esteban Romero, 36, has been a waiter for the past ten years, in prestigious restaurants on the Costa del Sol and elsewhere, and he noticed a common problem: people often put their mobile phones, sunglasses, wallets and packs of cigarettes on the tables, taking up space and risking them being damaged when the orders arrive.

So this entrepreneur, who describes himself as “very creative, I have lots of ideas,” decided to come up with a solution. He sold his car and cut his expenses to a minimum to raise the money to put it into effect without needing a loan.

He then produced eight prototypes, thanks to a website that offers technical services. “I found an engineer in Sri Lanka, sent him my designs and he drew up the project for me,” he says. He then contacted a plastics company in Shanghai, which produced a mould for his product.

How it works

The idea is simple: a stand with a small tray which is placed under the table, fixed to the edge with clamps, and with two functions: one is that it enables two mobile phones to be charged, thanks to batteries which the restaurant charges up in advance, and the other, as a place to keep the objects which would otherwise clutter up the table.

Romero ordered 1,500 of his ‘Top charger’, as he has called his invention, which he has patented. His first clients were the luxury restaurants in the Puente Romano hotel, such as Nobu, where he was working at the time, but it was during a recent work placement in Antigua and Barbudas that he realised that his invention had a real future.

“When I arrived there I had 1,300 left, but some British businessmen arrived and bought up the whole stock,” he says. The selling price is around 35 euros.

He has now decided to take temporary leave and dedicate himself full-time to his business project. He has heard that his invention is being used by restaurant chains in the USA, and people have also suggested that he adapts it for videogame tables.

He is now working on a second, more advanced, version, with fast-charging batteries, personalised markings and even hooks for handbags. The problem so far has been that people are not buying through his website. “When they see it for themselves they really like it, and that’s what I need to happen,” he says.

So he is now looking for salespeople and distributors around the world, especially in the USA, Arab countries and Australia, to give demonstrations in restaurants and hotels. He is convinced that once the owners and managers see his design for themselves, they will want it as an additional service for their clients.