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Hubbub: Inspiring healthier, greener lifestyles

Hubbub

Hubbub Enterprise drives behavioural change and encourages more sustainable ways of living through fun and creative campaigns. The profits they generate go towards supporting Hubbub Foundation's work. They are looking for a mentor.

Our interview with Alex, Managing Director of Hubbub Enterprise

Describe your mission in a sentence or two:

Hubbub Enterprise is the commercial arm of the environmental charity Hubbub Foundation. We were founded to do two things: amplify the impact of the charity’s experiments and campaigns, and to create a profit. That profit goes to the charity to give it more freedom, and it can then come up with ideas that we can apply in commercial settings. It’s a kind of virtuous circle.

Who are your clients?

We work mostly with corporates and local government. For example, we take companies such as Barclays and Unilever 'Plastic Fishing' in Canary Wharf on the world’s first 99% recycled plastic boat. That income subsidies trips for schoolchildren. We also help companies engage their employees on environmental issues, and run campaigns for councils that boost recycling and reduce litter. The common thread across our campaigns is that we create genuine behaviour change by engaging people in fun, positive and creative ways.

What stage are you at in your business?

We’re business teenagers: there are a few things we have practiced a lot and do well, and yet everything is changing so fast as we grow that it’s hard to know exactly what we’ll be in a couple of years!

What is your current biggest challenge and how are you seeking to address it?

Our biggest challenge is baked into our model in some ways: it’s the sheer variety of projects that we run and opportunities we have to assess. At the moment we manufacture and sell a product (the Ballot Bin, a ‘voting ashtray’ you’ll find all over the world); we deliver an experience (Plastic Fishing); we run campaigns (such as a reusable coffee cup trial at Gatwick), and we have long-term partnerships focused on delivering comms and events. For a small team of seven people, at the time of writing, such a mix can be alternatively frustrating and invigorating, and it makes planning decisions much harder. To address it we are doing a couple of things. First, we're being more deliberate about what we take on and why. And we are establishing what success looks like early on so if a project or stream isn’t working out, we have nowhere to hide. Second, I’m focusing more on having the right mix of skills in the team so that we're resilient as well as resourceful. And a bonus third thing: learning to let go! It’s tempting as a manager to want to exert more control, but I’ve learned it’s often better to resist. Hubbub will always be more like a wild garden that a perfectly manicured lawn, and that’s part of what makes it so great!

What are you most proud of/excited about for your business?

I’m excited about driving the shift away from our culture of disposability. There’s a huge amount of work to be done to drive the uptake of reusable items - lots of people are railing against single-use plastics, but that reaction can only be effective if we can put better solutions in place and make them stick.

What does 2030 look like in your mind?

I’m torn between two contrasting scenarios: in one, government, business and civil society are all fully dedicated to responsible environmental stewardship and sensitive to the social upheavals wrought by climate crisis. In the other… well, let’s just say it’s pretty bleak. The reality, of course, is likely to be somewhere in the middle - and everything we can do to influence people now is crucial for shaping how the world looks in 2030.

What other UK impactful start-up do you love and why?

I love Change Please, the coffee company that trains homeless people to become baristas. They are providing well-paid, dignified jobs and they are not content with being a little nonprofit: they are taking over concessions in offices, selling coffee in the supermarkets, on trains and on planes. They are having a major impact and growing incredibly fast.

What’s next for your company?

We are about to roll out two recycling on-the-go campaigns in Swansea and Edinburgh. We get through a mind-bending 13 billion plastic bottles, 9 billion drinks cans and nearly 3 billion coffee cups every year in the UK, and much of it is consumed on the street. We hope the campaign, called #InTheLoop, can spread across the UK and Ireland next year to help put a dent in all this waste, and meanwhile we’ll be working on projects that help shift people towards a culture of reuse rather than disposability.

How can the SeedTribe community be involved in helping you scale your impact?

I’d love to find a mentor who can both give me a robust intellectual challenge, but also help me develop my soft skills as a leader. Experience selling services to the corporate sector would be a bonus!

Get involved today by joining one of Hubbub's fantastic initatives.

If you want to contact Alex, send us an email and we will put you in touch.

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