Interviews

Archie Wilkinson, Co-Founder, Lifesaver

As part of a new breed of environmentally first start ups, Archie Wilkinson founded Lifesaver to have a positive impact, whether that be for the people he employs, the business he runs or the planet we so depend on.

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

Share


“We wanted to create a solution which is grab and go power.” For Archie Wilkinson, Co-Founder of Lifesaver, the idea for his company was rooted in a desire to solve a real-world problem. In April 2018, he ran the London marathon and, after his phone died and it took him hours to locate his family consequently making him miss his train back to Amsterdam, he realised there must be a better way to find “charge on the go.”

In an era where consumers increasingly see their smartphone as an extension of their very selves, Wilkinson identified a genuine gap in the market. After researching what was available, he concluded “all the solutions that we were looking at were inconvenient, outdated and old fashioned”, from frustrating charging lockers to impractical plugs. 

It was from this frustration that the Lifesaver battery pack was born. Pocket size and with enough power to give you two full phone charges, the packs are also “all powered with 100% renewable energy,” adds Wilkinson. It’s a product benefit which is particularly notable in a marketing ecosystem in which the climate emergency is fast rising up the consumer agenda.

You can hire better talent and also inspire talent because of the mission you stand for and because you are a B Corp business.

Archie Wilkinson

Becoming a B Corp

The brand’s mission is “to empower people in areas of need,” an ethos that lent itself naturally to the B Corp movement. To become a certified B Corp company, a business must adhere to the idea of a triple bottom line of profit, planet and people to use business as a force for good. 

For Lifesaver becoming B Corp was business imperative, a move which marks a fundamental shift from the 'move fast and break things' culture which has traditionally underpinned many start-ups. For Wilkinson, there were three reasons why he wanted Lifesaver to be certified. Firstly, the brand was seeking to have a positive impact on people; secondly it wanted to have a positive impact on the planet; and lastly it wanted to ensure it was building a long-term sustainable business plan to attract investors.

From a people perspective, Wilkinson believes that having a B Corp framework for the business means, “you can hire better talent and also inspire talent because of the mission you stand for and because you are a B Corp business.”

Sustainability will guarantee better business

Wilkinson is also clear that a key driver in the decision to certify Lifesaver was a financial one. We’ve seen many business leaders demonstrating that businesses with a purpose-led bottom line will be the ones to succeed in the long run. Wilkinson cites the CEO of BlackRock, Laurence D. Fink who believes that “companies that are geared up to be sustainable; those are the ones that will give you better return long term.”

Becoming a B Corp business, for Wilkinson, has allowed the company to sustain an important focus, that in turn lets them “make decisions differently.” This extends beyond just the financial growth of the business in the long term and into the types of investors the company can reach: “you open doors to a new sector of investors who are looking at B Corp as a key driver.”

You open doors to a new sector of investors who are looking at B Corp as a key driver.

Archie Wilkinson

Protecting the planet

Of course, a significant part of becoming a certified B Corp company is demonstrating a care and respect for the planet, something myriad businesses are recognising the importance of. As conspicuous consumption and its impact on the climate crisis has come under the microscope, maintaining the status quo is increasingly not an option. This is a shift which makes embedding a more environmental ethos into a new business a smart move.

Wilkinson cemented his commitment to the environment with the decision to “power all our batteries with renewable energy.” He reveals that this saves around 13g of CO2 per charge. For him, it’s also about being part of a bigger, more sustainable energy system, of sharing power, something that’s vital when it comes to reducing the amount of resources each person needs.

For Wilkinson this approach is all about having "a positive impact,” whether that be for the people he employs, the business he runs or the planet we so depend on. 

Working to give back

The business is currently developing its fifth product. Each time they innovate, they naturally leave behind older models in their wake. This is where the social aspect of Lifesaver comes to the fore as the business partners with the charity Liter of Light to provide power to those who don’t have access to it. Indeed, according to Wilkinson, 18% of planet don’t have access to electricity, which equates to about 1.3 billion people. 

The recycling process for a battery pack is two-step. First, they upcycle the plastic from the battery with UK recycling company First Mile. The battery cells are then given to Liter of Light who deploy those in areas of need. It’s a cyclical system that aligns with Lifesaver’s mission they started with: “to empower people while protecting the planet.”

[Our mission is] to empower people while protecting the planet.

Archie Wilkinson

Running a business

Becoming B Corp certified business is no mean feat but it’s a decision that a growing number of companies across the UK have been starting to make over the last five years. In 2014, there were just six certified businesses in the UK; today there are 217. Jamie Oliver recently announced that he wants to turn his business empire into a B Corp.

For Wilkinson having identified the product need, the key challenge was simply getting on with founding the business and securing its first contract. For Lifesaver, a vital first contract with Formula 1 gave them the break they needed. A two-year contract across 17 races globally provided the launch pad for the brand and paved the way for the Ryder Cup to also come on board.

Wilkinson emphasises the importance of the team he has built around him in being able to run a successful business. For him, the important realisation was to “try not to take an emotional stance.” In order to do that, Wilkinson believes, you need to surround yourself with people that “believe in you and back you but equally will be good sounding boards.” In essence, people that will tell the truth.

Ultimately, there will always be people who are waiting in the wings, convinced you’ve made a terrible decision. But, says Wilkinson, “Don’t worry about the naysayers.” You’ll always have people who’ll say you can’t do it. For him, that was all the more reason to do it anyway. As part of a new breed of environmentally first start-ups, Lifesaver is well positioned to prove those naysayers wrong.

Lifesaver will be at BITE LIVE this year, empowering attendees using power made from 100% renewable sources. Tickets now on sale