SE100 2020 Growth Champion: Hubbub Enterprise

The Growth Champion award recognises social ventures that have experienced positive financial growth from one year to the next, thanks to an entrepreneurial and sustainable business model.

At the beginning of 2018, Hubbub Enterprise was losing thousands of pounds every month, but by the end of 2019, it boasted a year-on-year revenue growth of 96%. This success story piqued the interest of our SE100 judges who – as always – want to see evidence that growth is not only getting the money flowing in the right direction, but is also sustainable. 

Hubbub is all about encouraging greener living by campaigning and collaborating with local authorities, businesses and community groups. Managing director, Alex Robinson, has, over the two years since he joined in January 2018, dropped unprofitable and low impact activities while leading a growing team and a launching series of initiatives which have made an impressive impact.

Probably the most well known of these is Hubbub’s Ballot Bin (pictured above) which now has its own definition in the Swedish dictionary: ‘fimpomat’ means ‘bin for cigarette butts that allows smokers to cast their vote on a random question by throwing their butt into one of two possible bins’. Hubbub has sold more than 2,500 of these – the world’s first voting ashtray – in 39 countries and says the ashtrays cut litter by up to 46%.

Hubbub’s entry to the awards acknowledged how rapid growth can put pressure on a team. “As part of our commitment to growing responsibly, and with a smile on our faces,” it said, “we committed to more training for all of our staff, from public speaking to line management to financial accounting.” This ongoing team development, believes Hubbub, gives a firm foundation for future growth.

As part of our commitment to growing responsibly, and with a smile on our faces, we committed to more training for all of our staff

Future growth, however, has been stalled by the covid-19 pandemic. “Most of the work we do involves getting people together,” says Alex Robinson when Pioneers Post calls to share the news of Hubbub’s award. Sales of the ballot bin have dropped too, although not totally disappeared. “It’s the end of the growth story for the time being, for sure,” he says.

Fortunately, Hubbub’s recent financial success means that the enterprise has a comfortable financial cushion. The current crisis is an “enormous setback”, says Robinson, but he and the team are taking the opportunity to reassess some of the projects and consider what the enterprise will look like in the near future. Already they have launched a new project, Live Savvy, which is helping people to save money and behave in a more environmentally conscious way during lockdown.


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