PowerSole is a shoe that creates electricity when you walk by converting the kinetic energy produced from movement into electrical energy, which can be used to power electronic devices, such as cell phones and iPods.

So how does it work? “As an individual walks, the magnet moves back and forth within the coil, which ultimately induces an electrical current.  The electricity is then stored in a thin battery in the front of the shoe and can be used to charge electronic devices like cell phones and flashlights through a USB port on the shoe’s side.”

The idea was born when Joseph Linzon (Commerce 2015) was volunteering in the Peruvian rainforest tracking biodiversity. “There I witnessed the ramifications of a society where individuals depend on electricity for everyday life, but have incredibly limited access to it. The poorest members of society are marginalized and forced into a cyclical state of poverty due to the instable power infrastructure. Viewing this injustice first hand is what empowered me to try and find an affordable solution with widespread benefits.”

Coming to the University of Virginia, he sought to “use social entrepreneurship as a means to rectify the problems that keep people disenfranchised.” During the first semester of his first year, Linzon represented the Social Entrepreneurship track in the 2010 University of Virginia Entrepreneurship Cup and took home $10,000 and second place with his concept for PowerSole. Over the next few months, he followed through with the business and pitched to real investors at the inaugural Galant Challenge in 2011, walking away with $200,000 at the end of the night. In 2012, Linzon received Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 youth award.

With these resources, Linzon was able to cover all legal fees to protect the idea and was able to surround himself with advisors, investors and a CEO, allowing him to better juggle being a student and an entrepreneur.  

Many of the obstacles Linzon has faced have been technical. “It took our team over a year to optimize the technology in a way that was flexible and slim enough to fit in the sole of a shoe.  Currently, we are in licensing discussions with several major US shoe manufacturers.  I hope that the technology will be able to help individuals in third world countries through a ‘Buy One, Give One’ model (similar to that of Tom’s Shoes).”

As a U.Va. 2015 graduate, Linzon recalls the evolution of the entrepreneurial focus at the University of Virginia. “Back in 2011, entrepreneurship wasn’t really considered an academic discipline; it’s amazing to see it slowly become integrated into the Commerce and Engineering School curriculums. Entrepreneurship is increasingly becoming a fundamental force at the University of Virginia. Students are now placed within an environment that fosters innovation and permits students to follow their respective entrepreneurial aspirations. They are provided with the resources necessary to develop their ideas, and funneled through a series of channels that help bring these ideas into fruition.”

The PowerSole shoe will be commercially available soon, so keep an eye out for it, and for the feats that Linzon will accomplish after graduation!

This article originally appeared on CollegeStartup.org, and has been cross-posted with permission here.

About the Author
Alex Zorychta
Author: Alex Zorychta

Alex is the Program Director of the Works in Progress community of student entrepreneurial projects at the University of Virginia. He is also the Managing Editor on the new online magazine, College Startup Magazine, which highlights the stories of student and alumni entrepreneurs around the world.