Virgin StartUp of the week: Spark

Businesses who do good are vital for the future of the world, which is why we are really excited to support Shake Your Power - an innovative way to produce clean energy through a musical instrument, Spark. Founder Sudha Kheterpal invented a percussion instrument that, when you shake it, generates electricity so that people can charge a phone or plug in a lamp - clean, sustainable, and life-changing for those in areas without readily-available electricity. It means that houses can be safely lit in the evening, enabling people to study or work, or someone making their way home in the dark can have a safer journey, or phones can be charged easily, giving access to mobile money transfer services. Let's find out more!

Richard B in lift

We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on Virginstartup.org each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? Please answer the questions below, keeping each answer to five sentences max. 

Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does

Shake Your Power provides clean, sustainable energy through the power of music. How, you ask? Our first product is a percussion shaker called Spark which generates energy as you play it, so it can be used to provide light or to power up a mobile phone. A life-changing product for many people in the developing world living off the grid.

Floor 1 to 2 - Where are you based?

The company is based in London, distributing across the developing world. We are also developing products for commercial sale in the UK and US.

Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?

A one for one sales model. For every Spark purchased in the UK or US we send a Spark to someone who needs it in the developing world.

SUDHA VIRGIN presshot

Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?

It’s great there are so many new sustainable energy products coming on the market. There really is so much need. The ones closest to us are a solar-powered light called Little Sun, a solar light called Waka Waka, and the Soccket – a football that charges a battery while being played.

Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?

Spark uses a dual harnessing technology – kinetic and solar – and it’s the only device on the market that harnesses clean energy through playing music. With my background actually being in music, Spark is being endorsed by a growing number of music celeb friends who are encouraging people to shake their power.

Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?

In short, I’ve been playing music as a professional percussionist for over 20 years, with artists including Faithless, the Spice Girls and Dido. I was playing with Faithless at a festival and the force of the audience jumping up and down actually created an earthquake which registered on the Richter Scale! I thought, wow - could we harness this energy and turn it into something useful? For the full story watch my TED talk here.

Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?

£25,000.

Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?

I self-financed the initial product development, and we have already worked in detail with the manufacturer. We’re currently reaching out to festivals to showcase Spark and drive sales, and we’re also beta testing. The loan is helping us with costs for tooling, purchasing product and extending market reach.

Floor 8 to 9 – Who’s your Virgin StartUp Mentor?

Rob Wills.

Floor 9 to 10 – What’s your workspace like?

WORKSPACE

Modest at the moment. The team is small right now and we use a lot of freelancers to keep costs down. But it’s light and airy, which keeps me feeling positive!

Floor 10 to 11 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time?

Next summer you’ll find Spark at major festivals in the UK and US and we’ll be driving sales both online and through CSR & sponsorship promotions. The plan is to have delivered over 30,000 Sparks to people in Africa and India.

To find out more about Spark, connect on Twitter and Facebook.

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