Sasha Afanasieva is the Founder and CEO of Blubel, an easy-to-use navigation device that allows cyclists to get to their destination quickly and safely. She created Blubel to make cycling easier so that our streets are less polluted and congested and people are fitter and happier.
She started her career in investment banking at Merrill Lynch. She then went on to work for GP Bullhound, a tech-focused investment bank. After working with entrepreneurs from across the sector, she decided it was time to strike out on her own.
After looking into business ideas which had a social impact at heart, Sasha joined the On Purpose Social Enterprise Leadership Programme. During this time, she developed the idea as a solution to city congestion, pollution and commuter stress. Blubel not only steers cyclists along quiet and cycle-friendly routes, but also gathers relevant journey data that can provide valuable insights to urban planners.
Determined to make Blubel successful, Sasha learnt to coding and basic electronics to develop the first Blubel prototype. Then in January 2016, Blubel won the IBM Smart Cities Challenge, and received support from their engineering team. That Spring, the Blubel team also joined the European Space Agency Business Incubation Programme and won the European Space Agency Special Prize.
By the Summer of 2016, the Blubel Kickstarter campaign went live and raised almost £40,000 from 500 backers and was officially launched in December 2017. Blubel team has also received additional funding from the Department of Transport to crowdsource data for local authorities. In 2019 Blubel was shortlisted as social enterprise of the year at the Evening Standard Business Awards.