How to raise awareness of your cause: Shake Your Power

Sudha Kheterpal is a percussionist for artists including Faithless and Mel C, and the founder of Shake Your Power - an initiative bringing clean energy to the world through music.

With the invention of Spark - an innovative percussion instrument that generates clean electricity when you shake it - Sudha hopes to change the lives of countless people. A light in the evenings or a charged phone can make a huge difference, whether that's improving connectivity, keeping people safer, or reducing the need for harmful kerosene lamps.

As a professional musician, Sudha has a solid network of contacts and know how to gain awareness of projects she's involved in. We spoke to her about how other startups can get people excited about what they do.

Tell us a little bit more about Shake Your Powers’ journey

To give a bit of background, Shake Your Power is focused around a clean-energy generating musical instrument we have developed called ‘Spark’. Spark is all about the power of you, creating electricity and light simply by having a music jam. We’re distributing it to off-grid areas in the developing world through partnerships, and are looking to operate a TOMS buy-one-give-one model when we begin retailing.

Since the success of our Kickstarter campaign in July 2014, we‘ve had a number of great opportunities and exposure to national and international mainstream media. We were chuffed to win the London Design Awards 2014 for Best Product Design for personal use at the end of last year. The campaign allowed us to develop a few iterations of Spark and to identify manufacturing routes. We sourced a Hong Kong family firm with factories in China. Going out there to develop and finalise the Spark product has been interesting to say the least, full of challenges and a steep learning curve!

What are some ways to get people really excited about your cause or business?

Social media is an obvious one and really important. But it doesn’t stop there. Do talks whenever possible, as they’re a great way to get people listening and discussing your initiative. Exhibiting is good too – we were at an exhibition in Dubai this summer that gave us huge exposure to the energy world. Absolutely priceless. Design expos have worked well for us – Droog in Amsterdam and theBarcelona Design Festival were two particularly successful ones.

How have you built your own network?

I’ve been able to build on top of my existing music network, and then really it’s been quite organic. Things that have helped include going to events and talks related to our product, introductions through Facebook, remembering a contact from years ago who has then introduced me to someone in this field. Doing talks, as I mentioned above, is always a good connector. And any crowdfunding will be a good fund-raising platform, and one hell of a marketing machine!

When you meet people who could help champion your cause, what are some good ways to nurture these connections?

Taking them out for coffee and cake. Always a winner (the cake bit, of course.) And sometimes it’s hard liquor. Building up a personal relationship is key, and there’s also nothing like picking up the phone.

How have you used events or partnerships to get more people aware of Shake Your Power?

Music is our USP, so we’re using festivals as a key awareness driver and a way of providing exciting ‘always on’ PR activity. Spark is a product of social good, so CSR partnerships are particularly relevant to us - we’re just in the process of securing a couple of good ones. Whether it’s a large corporate or a cool collaboration, it’s a great way of keeping the word out about your product.

Has social media been important in spreading the word of Shake Your Power, and do you have any tips?

Indeed. During our Kickstarter, it was crucial. The constant sharing meant an endless amount of media and interview opportunities. I find that is a really good tool for building up followers on Twitter.

How do you maintain momentum in keeping people excited about what you’re doing?

By constantly looking for good, shareable content. Whether it’s an event, a video documenting the design process, interviews, talking to someone in the pub, it’s all a continuous drive for exciting opportunities.

What’s next for Shake Your Power?

We’re about to manufacture our first 5000 units of Spark and the development of our Spark educational kits is underway. We’re piloting them with students at UCL Academy, pulling in the resources of UCL, and are going to run a national pilot in Jan.
We’ve also just begun a collaboration with Ultimaker 3D printers, which brings a whole world of creative possibility! And we’re planning a series of global music events next year as part of a new partnership. Definitely shaking things up!


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