Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Inspiring Enterprising Graduates

Graduate profiles

Babatunde Sobola Video Interview
Year of Study
2011 / 12

GreenHeart Wash – launched in 2009 – is an eco-friendly, waterless mobile car valeting service, based in Loughborough and operating throughout Leicestershire with a small team in Peterborough.

The company offers an affordable, healthy, safe and eco-friendly alternative to conventional water-based car cleaning services – and at a time and location to suit customer needs.

What prompted you to set up on your own?

From a very young age, I have always wanted to run my own company. Launching a business that I believe in and has a positive impact on the community is a long-held ambition.

I’m an ideas person, but have to admit that some of them might seem off-the-wall or risky. I knew that to realise them I would have start up alone – I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to try them out in a conventional workplace.

During my university placement year, I regularly cleaned my neighbour’s car and soon realised that she appreciated the convenience of having her car cleaned at home at a time that suited her.

This got me thinking about the potential market for a mobile car valeting service.

How did you get started?

I did a lot of research into similar businesses and suitable cleaning products and equipment. Meanwhile, I attended plenty of networking events organised, by business link, to learn more about running a business and communicating with potential customers.

My research and networking revealed a real appetite for the sort of service I wanted to offer. So, I went for it – launching Green Heart Wash in 2009.

I had a lot of support from Business Link as well as encouragement from the University. Winning the Santander Universities Award for Undergraduate Student Enterprise in 2011 was a real boost. It gave my business a positive cash injection, which helped to kick off an advertising campaign that was much needed.

Where is your company at now?

Business is good. We valet a range of vehicles – cars, 4 x 4s, commercial cars and vans.

Plus – when I set up – amongst the equipment I put together was a multi-purpose carpet cleaner. It dawned on me that I could apply my green cleaning system to homes and business premises. And
Green Heart Clean was born in 2010.

We now offer our cleaning services to domestic and commercial customers across Leicestershire and Peterborough.

In fact, Green Heart Wash is now trademark protected and we are exploring the possibility of franchising the business model. I want to be able to offer opportunities to unemployed young people, aged 18-24, to not only get into work but to build their own business.

My recently launched blog, Future Inspired, promotes young entrepreneurs who are doing inspirational things. I want to inspire more people to be creative – and have the confidence to grow their small ideas into something great.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Tenacity. Flexibility. Patience. Hard work.

It can be hard for us youths to know where to nest our future eggs, but the truth is that, we have very little to lose if our ideas don’t turn out as we thought. It is important to give those ideas a go however and try our best to learn from the experiences. You also need to be realistic and address your customers’ needs. If you provide a service that people want – and suits their wallet – you are more likely to be in business.

At the same time – be adventurous. Try out the things you really believe in and love. A business that you actually care about is more likely to prosper because you won’t mind the hard work and sacrifice.

How would you describe your Loughborough experience?

The School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering is highly respected and partners many national and global companies. So, graduates are welcomed into jobs across the industry. These links also mean that the School is able to offer some great work placement opportunities.

My placement was with British Sugar, and gave me the opportunity to work on various engineering projects relating to the environment. My major assignment was to complete the design of a system to capture the biogas from the anaerobic digester and purify the gas, making it suitable to burn in the plant’s gas boilers.

The system has since been commissioned, saving an estimated £300,000 annually in addition to a great reduction in the methane released into the environment.

Several of my friends received job offers from their placement company, but – even if your year doesn’t result in a career move – the confidence and experience you gain during the 12 months are invaluable.

During my studies, my lecturers were always on hand to offer help with projects and coursework – and when things got tough or confusing. The first year was hard work, but by the second year I was used to the workload and had learnt to manage my time.

The BEng Mechanical Engineering project modules gave me the chance to develop all kinds of skills. I led my group’s project which allowed me to hone my leadership skills – something that has really helped me manage my Green Heart Wash team.

There are lots of things to get involved with alongside your degree. I acted as President of my Christian Fellowship and played tennis in my free time.

During my second year, I became interested in starting my own business, so I participated in numerous business development workshops and events – some organised by the University's Enterprise Office; others, by external organisations.

Living on campus is great – having so many sports and recreational facilities on your doorstep really lets you pursue your interests, whatever they may be.

More than this, if you are passionate about starting your own business the support here is fantastic. Loughborough is the university for aspiring entrepreneurs.