Good Business: Kirsty Kenney, Solarbox
9 September 2014 - Impact Hub

Each fortnight, the Good Business column from Positive News catches up with people who are leading social change. It’s hosted by Impact Hub Islington, an incubation space in London for socially minded entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurs featured in this week’s column took part in the Hub Youth Academy, a two-week intensive course and year’s incubation period at Impact Hub Islington for young people to grow and develop their own social enterprise.

Set to launch in October, Solarbox aims to revive London’s iconic red phone boxes with solar and mobile technology. Co-founder Kirsty Kenney discusses the inspiration behind the idea and the ups and downs of starting a business while studying for a degree.

Here’s an excerpt, you can read the full article here:

Nicola: Kirsty, tell us about your business.Kirsty: The business is called Solarbox. The idea is to transform disused telephone boxes – the red kiosks that you see around London – into solar powered charging points for phones. Users will have a space inside the kiosk to charge their phones and we’ll have advertisements running on a screen. So essentially it’s a free public service for people to use that relies on the sun and capitalises on advertising to provide electricity for public good. We are planning to launch our first kiosk in London at the start of October.Where did you get the idea and how did you develop it?
My co-founder, Harold Craston, and myself have both just graduated from studying Geography at LSE. We started talking last July about what we could do with old telephone boxes because we were both interested in how they could be used. We decided that using them for charging made sense because they previously had been used for phones. We first got funding from Unltd in September to help develop the idea. Since then we’ve been doing focus groups and entering competitions to get more funding like the mayor of London’s low carbon prize, which we came second in. Neither Harold or I have any tech experience so we’ve taken on an engineer. He has designed this system for us, both in terms of the technology and the design. He can curve solar panels which is really important because we wanted to make the panel as discreet as possible.
What successes have you had so far?
As well as the successes we’ve had in various competitions, getting BT and the local council’s on board were big successes. Also finding the right engineer really helped push things forward. I also think coming to Hub Youth Academy has also been a big success for us. It has opened up a lot of ideas in terms of where we want to go and got us thinking a bit more holistically about business concepts.

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If you’re a Hub member and are interested in being featured in the next Good Business column, get in touch with Nicola Slawson from Positive News.