New Orleans-based MobileQubes, a network of cord-free, rent-and-return mobile chargers, plans to launch the pilot phase of its service this month with vending machines in Louis Armstrong International Airport, Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Ochsner Health Systems and Tulane University’s uptown campus.

“Basically we’re trying to solve the problem that’s out in the market right now for hundreds of millions of smartphone users: How do we keep people’s phones charged while they’re on the go without forcing them to pull over and plug into a wall, or stand around at a charging post, or lock their phone away?” said MobileQubes Chief Executive Officer Sean Carrigan.

Carrigan and partners Jason Palmer, chief technology officer, and Mike Melito, president and chief operating officer, spent two years developing the software and hardware that make the battery packs and the network of automated, self-serve kiosks possible.

MobileQubes expects to launch the network within the next two weeks or so, with 11 units at seven locations. Each kiosk holds 200 battery packs, which are compatible with all Android and iPhone devices. After charging their devices, customers can return the Qubes to any MobileQubes kiosk.

The battery pack rental is $4.99 plus tax for the first day and 99 cents each day afterward for up to seven days. If the customer keeps the pack for more than seven days, it’s the same as buying the battery pack: $39.99 plus tax.

With the pilot launch, MobileQubes plans to validate its product and service in real-market conditions, Carrigan said. The company is looking at venues where lots of smartphone users need to recharge their devices: casinos, hotels, airports, convention centers and so forth.

If the service proves successful for those locations, the company hopes to expand quickly to others like them.

For example, airports are a tight-knit community, Carrigan said. If MobileQubes proves to be great for Louis Armstrong — consumers like it and it’s profitable for the facility — other airports will look at adding the service.

The company has enough funding for the pilot launch, Melito said. Once the company has the financial data for the machines, MobileQubes will look for additional financing.

Already four venture capital firms are interested in looking at those numbers, he said. MobileQubes expects it will raise $3 million to $5 million to fund growth regionally.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter @tedgriggsbr.