I recently interviewed Emily Mackay, founder of Cambridge startup Microgenius. Here's my interview:
Microgenius allows ordinary people to invest in green energy generation. www.microgenius.org.uk presents live community share offers in pioneering community energy projects for you to pick from, all offering great financial, social and environmental benefits.
What was the inspiration behind starting Microgenius?
I’m a totally impatient, get-it-done-now sort! So when I was told I couldn't install my own solar panels I defaulted to my internet geek mode and went a-googling to find a website that would allow me to buy into someone else’s project. There was no such website. So I went and set one up. It gathers together current community share projects and presents them to the public in one place. I love the idea of having a ready list of innovative community investment opportunities to pick from, all offering me a decent return on my money, doing good for the environment, and giving me bucketloads of feelgood factor.
How did you fund the company?
Grants, networking and ingenuity :-)
Being based in Cambridge, what do you think of the Cambridge startup scene?
The Cambridge startup scene is hot! Being a startup here is totally normal and very much encouraged. The infrastructure for enterprise is fantastic, with incubator facilities, funding, and mentoring; the networks work; everyone supports one another; we have inspirational entrepreneurial figureheads; and there is massive ambition. Cambridge buzzes with entrepreneurs and innovation.
Have you ever thought that moving to London would help progress your business or do you think Cambridge offers just as much?
Cambridge is very special for the reasons above. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. If I need to talk to people in London, I hop on a train or pick up the phone. Easy.
Having studied at Oxford uni, did you know much about the startup scene then and how about now, do you see much difference between Oxford and Cambridge's startup scene?
I have to say I knew absolutely nothing at all about start-ups when I was in Oxford. I didn't even know what a start-up was! From what I hear from others Cambridge has the slight edge over Oxford right now (sorry Oxford).
Have you had any support from Cambridge University?
Yes I have, but CEDAR (Centre for Enterprise Development and Research) at Anglia Ruskin University is where I won the CEDAR Enterprise Fellowship, have incubation facilities, and am mentored.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced in getting Microgenius of the ground? and how did you/plan to overcome it?
Fear. Fear of being ridiculed for having a poxy idea. Of not being bright enough. Of making mistakes. Once I shut my eyes and jumped I discovered that actually the doors are there for the opening.
What advice would you give to anyone else who is thinking about starting a business?
There are three (and a half!) blindingly obvious things you can do!
Emily created this presentation to explain: