Sustainabus

Sustainabus

Oxford, United KingdomOxford, United Kingdom
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Sustainabus converts decommissioned city buses into renewably powered guest hoses operating on low carbon and low impact hospitality sites

Providing guests with the support to understand how renewable technology and sustainable strategies can be integrated into modern lifestyles.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we can provide the support and experience that empowers people to make positive sustainable change in their lives and their communities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There is currently minimal environmental or social initiative within the Hospitality and Tourism sector, furthermore there are few places where individuals can engage with demonstrations of 'what is possible' with renewable technology. Additionally, there is a need for renewable energy for community buildings, to inspire local residents, reduce carbon emission and reduce the cost of access to public space for the benefit of the community.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Each Sustainabus site will be low carbon, low impact and environmentally positive. Guests will have the opportunity to engage and learn about the project; how it works and why it works; promoting understanding through experience, empowering guest to have the knowledge and confidence to make positive environmental changes in their lives. The project operate as a non-profit, where all profits fund the Sustainabus Trust, providing free renewable solutions for community buildings, to maximise the projects impact; familiarising residents with renewable technology, and, importantly reducing the overheads on community spaces, facilitating space for individual and community growth, development and unity.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our first site based at Willowbrook Organic Farm is projected to launch in summer 2014. Over the 5 acres of previous grazing land, each converted bus will have all the facilities and amenities of a modern home, but everything will be low impact. Paying guest will have the opportunity to explore the beautiful site, local river, lake and site actives. During their staff guests can engage with the project to understand how it works, and how this technology and strategies can be utilised in ‘traditional’ homes; experiential learning to inspire and empower change. The Trust will prioritise community buildings in low socioeconomic areas, expanding the impact of the project by supporting local residents.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

So far we have raised £10k through personal funds, UnLtd and Think Big for the first prototype, been granted professional support from Pure Leapfrog and EP Hospitality Magazine, and secured a lease on Willowbrook farm! We are soon to start the conversion of the first bus! The future impact of the site will be measured by the reduction in guests holiday carbon footprint (estimated at 18 tonnes in year 1), the number of guests which have implemented ideas, technology and sustainable strategies to reduce the impact of their lives after the holiday which we will gather through post-trip surveys. The impact will reach beyond the hospitality sites and dive into our local community, reducing the carbon footprint and overheads to buildings at the heart of local residents, reducing the financial and carbon cost of the arts, sport, club, support groups, education and celebration.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Financial predictions based on existing market data indicate the future financial sustainability of the project by revenue generation of paying guests. This information has been examined by Oxford Brookes, UnLtd and ThinkBig who have also commented on the commercial viability and ability to scale Sustainabus. Further financial information can be provided.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Low carbon education and support is provided by UK groups however there is no existing destination where individuals can first-hand experience and learn about renewable technology. We believe this is key to success as the destination creates an environment where individuals are better equipped to engage with the information and support and integrate it into their lives. Additionally, there is no existing solar charity in the UK that provides free solar for community buildings. This project will facilitate positive social and sustainability culture change through environmental initiatives.
Team

Founding Story

The idea started when both founders identified a future housing issue for a friend. While on a bus Ben was struck by the amount of space available, after some investigation, computer designs and costing, we created a design prototype for a fully functioning home by recycling and converting a decommissioned bus, powered by solar panels, providing all the comforts of a 'normal' home! This idea progressed after attending the OxJam 2013 conference where the need for more social enterprise in the Hospitality and Tourism industry was highlighted. So, from a practical housing solution, it turned into a holiday destination, where guests can have fun and enjoy environmentally positive adventure!
About You
Organization:
Sustainabus
About You
First Name

Ben

Last Name

Wilkins

About Your Project
Organization Name

Sustainabus

Organization Country

, OXF, Oxford

Country where this project is creating social impact

, OXF, Oxford

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Your Solution
Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

The idea started when both founders identified a future housing issue for a friend. While on a bus Ben was struck by the amount of space available, after some investigation, computer designs and costing, we created a design prototype for a fully functioning home by recycling and converting a decommissioned bus, powered by solar panels, providing all the comforts of a 'normal' home! This idea progressed after attending the OxJam 2013 conference where the need for more social enterprise in the Hospitality and Tourism industry was highlighted.

So, from a practical housing solution, it turned into a holiday destination, where guests can have fun and enjoy environmentally positive adventure!

Select Sector(s): To which of Unilever's categories of sustainability does your solution apply?

Sanitation and Hygiene, Nutrition, Greenhouse Gases, Waste, Smallholder Farmers.

Measurable Impact
Audience: Who have you identified as your customers/recipients and why? How will you get your solution to them or engage them in your initiative?

We have identified many potential customer segments based on existing ‘glamping’ sites, however, from our market research and focus groups, we believe that the unique and convenient accommodation and on site facilities will appeal individuals who may not consider sustainable holidays or lifestyles. This is extremely important as this is the group that may not normally engage with environmental initiatives will have the opportunity to engage with the project; positivly changing views and culture

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date and expected impact in the future?

So far we have raised £15k through personal funds, UnLtd and Think Big for the first prototype, been granted professional support from Pure Leapfrog and EP Hospitality Magazine, and secured a lease on Willowbrook farm! We are soon to start the conversion of the first bus! The future impact of the site will be measured by the reduction in guests holiday carbon footprint (estimated at 18 tonnes in year 1), the number of guests which have implemented ideas, technology and sustainable strategies to reduce the impact of their lives after the holiday which we will gather through post-trip surveys. The impact will reach beyond the hospitality sites and dive into our local community, reducing the carbon footprint and overheads to buildings at the heart of local residents, reducing the cost and carbon impact of art, music, theatre, dance, sport, clubs, societies, support groups, community groups.

Growth, Finance & Leadership
Scaling the Solution: How do you intend to scale your activities over the next two years (e.g., reach new markets, diversify solutions, etc.)? What will make this possible?

Our current finance plan incorporates internal reinvestment to fund the expansion of the project. By year two we plan to convert an additional 4 buses and launch a second site in west Wales or east England in order to appeal to a wider geographical demographic. This will also expand the impact of the Trust due to increased revenue streams creating more funding to invest in more local community buildings; scaling both social and environmental positive impact. We plan to scale annually to increase this impact in the UK and anticipate entering the European market by year 5. We plan to continue to scale to maximise the projects positive impact and for the impact to be as wide reaching as possible.

Financial Sustainability: What is your business model to ensure financial sustainability?

Sustainabus is modelled around a commercial hospitality model charging guests to stay on-site and use the facilities. This will generate the majority of revenue alongside upselling of products (locally produced food, drink and goods). We are still grant fundraising for the total costs of the prototype. Once the prototype is completed (expected March 2014) we plan to secure this asset against a charity loan to raise the additional funding.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Ben has created many local projects involving climbing/gardening in Oxford and is the co-founder of The Oxford Ice Cream Co. He has previously managed estates and worked maintenance. Lewin has a masters in renewable energy and is an associate for a renewable technology company. Wendy is employed by Brookes Sustainability team and officer for PR/Marketing and has a masters in Sustainable Tourism. Andy is an engineer and Eryn works in conservation

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